When Dirty Bird To Go first opened I ruffled quite a few feathers with a less than laudatory write-up on my old Ed Levine Eats blog. Co-owner Allison Vines Rushing took me to task in an e-mail exchange for reviewing her fried chicken joint prematurely, before she had time to get the kinks (or should I say pluck all the feathers) out.
I've gone back a few times in the last couple of years and noted some improvement, but a visit the other day has me convinced that finally the fried chicken at Dirty Bird is up to Vine-Rushing's standards.
Every piece in my half-chicken order was perfectly fried to a gorgeous dark brown color that Giorgio Armani should use to make suits and sport jackets. The chicken was well-salted, just peppery enough, and was crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. It was everything fried chicken should be, but rarely is, in this town.
Decent chicken fingers were markedly improved by a dip in the honey mustard sauce spiked by fresh horseradish.
Sides were much-improved as well. Smashed potatoes had plenty of butter, salt, and pieces of scallion. Maybe better was the slightly spicy, incredibly flavorful kale, cooked long and slow Southern-style. Tangy mac and cheese needed some crunch. Skip the corn bread, which was dull, greasy, and characterless.
It took awhile, but Dirty Bird has indeed taken full flight.