When to Order the Chicken

Chicken gets a bad rap. In restaurants, it is often the neglected dish. People who order it can be seen as being unadventurous or boring. When served boneless and skinless, it’s often associated with diet food. But me, I love chicken. There are few dinners more comforting than a roasted chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy. I live in Harlem, where exceptional fried chicken is rarely more than a stone’s throw away. I have powerful childhood memories of chicken parmigiana.

Recently I investigated how chicken has changed in restaurants, in a story for Bon Appetit. In At Restaurants, When Do You Order the Chicken and When Do You Avoid?” I talked to chefs and food critics for their take on the current status of chicken in restaurants. I wanted to find out if the chicken dish is a symbol, if it can be seen as representative of the philosophy of a kitchen. If the chicken is exceptional, will everything else adhere to the same standards?

A recent trip to Raoul’s sparked the idea for this investigation. Raoul’s is a classic bistro in SoHo that is known for its steak. While the steak au poivre is excellent, my choice for the perfect night at Raoul’s is a seat at the bar watching the bartender mix icy martini after icy martini while waiting for the organic roasted chicken. I was thinking about it weeks after my cleaned plate had been cleared. For details on how Chef David Honeysett prepares his exceptional chicken, take a look at my story on Bon Appetit.

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