Chicken Scratch, Tim Byres' New Chicken-and-Tetherball Joint, Opened in Oak Cliff Yesterday
Chef Tim Byres, chef and owner of upscale meat palace Smoke and the latest recipient of Food & Wine's People's Best New Chef award, opened his new fast-casual chicken joint on Monday at Pittman and Fort Worth Avenue in North Oak Cliff.
Chicken Scratch is a small, corrugated-metal-and-glass building right next door to new bar The Foundry, which opened a couple months ago in the building that used to be Jack's Backyard. Chicken Scratch and The Foundry share a huge courtyard located in a sort of compound that looks like the home base of a local-seasonal hipster cult, if such a thing existed (and I'm not so sure it doesn't).
There's a garden area where various herbs and vegetables are just beginning to sprout, and the courtyard is littered with picnic tables, with more seating sheltered from the elements inside old shipping containers. There's a tetherball court and hopscotch for the kids (or drunk adults), a hammock, and a stage built of wooden pallets, plus a cactus garden. There were a ton of kids running around already today, and I imagine this place will be absolutely swarmed with families come summer. Luckily, for those of us less tolerant of tiny humans, you can get your grub and take it over to the bar.
Chicken Scratch's interior is charmingly rustic -- lots of shiny red paint, vintage couches and even a wooden swing. The chalkboard menu is simple and homestyle: chicken, either skillet fried or rotisseried, the usual array of side dishes (collards, mashed potatoes, fries, mac and cheese, biscuits), a couple light appetizer options (hummus, quinoa salad), plus delicious-looking housemade popsicles in a variety of fruit flavors. There's a few scratch-made sauce options for your chicken, too: red tomatillo, gravy, buttermilk ranch, and a tasty oregano-vinegar honey. Beverage options are limited to a basic soda fountain and pitchers of iced tea & water, but The Foundry's got plenty of draft and bottle options, plus a full selection of liquor.
Prices are reasonable, with dinner for two coming in at around twenty bucks. Make no mistake, this is not fast food; chicken is fried up in cast iron skillets rather than deep fryers (a method that's becoming harder to find these days in restaurants since it takes more time and attention), and it's made to order to expect a bit of a wait.
It'll be interesting to see what kind of crowds gather here, especially as warm weather approaches; it's really a one of a kind setting that seems tailor-made for large gatherings and parties. Scroll for more photos.
Photos by Catherine Downes