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Hot Chicken Takes Off at the Bird

The SoMa spot doesn’t put on any Nashville airs, but all the right ingredients are there.

I suppose you know that a once-obscure regional American food item has gone mainstream when KFC puts a version on its menu. So it goes with Nashville hot chicken, which is also having a bit of a moment in the Bay Area, mostly in sandwich form—at KronnerBurger in Oakland, for instance, and at Alamo Drafthouse in the Mission.

The Bird, the almost year-old SoMa counter-service spot from super-restaurateur Adriano Paganini (Beretta, Super Duper Burgers, etc.), doesn’t list the word Nashville anywhere on the menu, but chef Blair Warsham says the fiery Tennessean delicacy is, without question, the inspiration for his spicy fried chicken sandwich ($8).

In the manner of Nashville’s most famous chicken shacks, the chicken—at the Bird it’s batter-fried boneless thighs—gets its namesake heat from a post-fry dunk in warm oil and dry spices (including four types of chilies). But the little touches are what make this bird soar: the blend of vegetable and rice flours that makes the batter impeccably crisp, the cool crunch of the dill pickles and the cabbage-celery-apple slaw, and the toasted edges of the squishy custom-made bun. Note to chiliheads: This isn’t hot chicken that’ll put anyone in the emergency room. But it may make you reluctant to order a plain old non-spicy chicken sandwich ever again. 115 New Montgomery St. (Near Minna St.), 415-872-9825

 

Originally published in the September issue of San Francisco 

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