I first became aware of Sticky's Finger Joint, an all-chicken-finger snack shop in the West Village while shooting a short segment for Bobby Flay's show 3 Days to Open. The shoot was quick and involved watching scantily clad college-aged women chucking barbecue sauce and mustard at each other. I think there was a giant chicken talking about wasabi glitter and occasionally saying "BANG" as well. It was all a bit surreal and the place fell off my radar for several months.
It picked back up again when I tweeted a question about their chicken sourcing at them spurred by a press release I received. While their public relations strategy might be a little, shall we say, off-beat, there's no denying that a perfect chicken finger is a thing of beauty, so in due diligence, Robyn and I hauled over to test out everything on their pretty extensive menu of mostly-fingers and a few sides.
First off, I want to point out that Robyn and I were both "made" by the owner, who came over and talked to us and was overseeing our food preparation. In a subsequent visit I tried two of the original nine menu items we tasted (the classic finger and salted caramel version) anonymously and found them to be pretty much identical to what we had on our first visit, so take that as you will.
The prices are pretty steep—$7 to $12 for what essentially amounts to a glorified movie snack—but the portions are plenty filling, and the chicken fingers really are some of the best I've had around. A few of our favorites: the Finger ($7 for 3), a buttermilk-brined southern-style finger with a crisp, lacy, triple-dipped coating. We also enjoyed the Buffalo ($9 for 3), which claims to use aged balsamic vinegar and maple syrup in its sauce, but really just tasted like a damn good buffalo chicken finger. And then there's the Salted Caramel Pretzel ($10 for 3), a surprise winner with pretzel-coated chicken breast coated in a sticky, salty caramel sauce with more crunched up pretzels over it. Sounds like gross, tastes like win.
Less successful were the General Sticky Tso ($9 for 3), which had an unbalanced sauce too heavy on the soy and ginger and the Fiesta Finger ($10 for 3), which was perfectly crunchy in its crushed tortilla crust but had too many competing sauces and condiments to contend with. Similarly, we could have done with a little bit less sauce on our Bada Bing ($12 for 3), a take on chicken parm smothered in what they call "creamy tomato aioli" but should really be labeled "too much mayo." Once you wade through the sauce, the cheese-stuffed fried chicken underneath is really quite nice. Juicy and flavorful.
The only complete mis-fire we tasted was a curry-based special that used grilled chicken in place of fried. They are much better at using the fryer than the grill.
Sides were mostly good too. Battered and fried string beans got soggy real fast, but the Fries ($4) are fresh cut, thick, crisp, and crunchy and excellent even without the "truffle glitterbang" you can add for 50¢. (I'm not sure that I want glitterbang anywhere near my food.) You're better off ordering a few of their many, many sauces to dip in on the side.
They're open until 4 a.m., which my college self would have liked.
Check out the slideshow above for a look at ALL THE FINGERS.*
*Their selection varies regularly
Sticky's Finger Joint
About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.