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Buttermilk Brooklyn

In north Brooklyn, a fried chicken on every block.

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Map by Kagan McLeod and Jonathon Rivait  

Stephen Tanner is sick and tired of fried chicken. Cornered one night at Egg, his last place of employ, the founding chef of the now-defunct Pies-n-Thighs voices his irritation with the dish’s ubiquity. “You can even get it in the bowling alley,” he gripes, speaking of Blue Ribbon’s Cajun-spiced version at Brooklyn Bowl. It’s true—and partially Tanner’s own fault—that the nexus of New York fried chicken has shifted, seemingly overnight, from Harlem, where such faded relics as M&G Diner and Pan Pan have gone under, to Williamsburg and Greenpoint, where the down-home flavor fits the boho-hipster vibe. There’s greasy-spoon chicken (Jimmy’s Diner), chicken and cocktails (Walter Foods), and “chicken-fried chicken” (Enid’s). Even the vegan fast-food joint, Foodswings, serves southern-fried “drumsticks.” You can trace the dish’s trajectory from Pies-n-Thighs, to Egg, where Tanner reproduced his flour-and-seltzer recipe, over to Roberta’s in Bushwick, where fellow P-n-T veteran Carolyn Bane can be found cooking “Bane’s Fried Chicken” for culinary pilgrims like Michel Bras, who tucked into a crispy serving when he passed through town recently. This fall, Bane and partner Sarah Buck will reopen Pies-n-Thighs in new digs, this time without Tanner. He’s rumored to be involved with a new project of his own at the former Black Betty space nearby, which Tanner says will serve bar food like Applebee’s, “but better.” And will there be fried chicken? “Maybe a thigh.”


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