You know, last year was the birthday of Michelin stars, but this year I wanted to make it the birthday of fried chicken. I REALLY like fried chicken. Hungry asked me to give her a list of places I’d like to celebrate my birthday, so I picked a bunch of fried chicken focused meals, and eventually the list was culled down to Brooklyn Star, where for $20/person, they were offering fried chicken dinners. Hello, lovely! I made my darling KC go to Brooklyn
Though we didn’t really need the menu, Hungry and I looked it over while we waited for Beer Boor and KC to show up. (It was his fault they were late, I’m told.) I couldn’t stop laughing at the notation on the bottom of the menu: “All animals are killed humanely with five point exploding heart punch. All vegetables are yanked from the earth with extreme prejudice. Fritos sourced from Plano, Texas.” Five point exploding heart punch!!!
As it was my birthday, I ordered a sparkly drink. I like drinking bubbles for celebration. Actually… who’m I kidding? I drink bubbles all the time. That’s just who I am. In any case, this was prosecco with bitters, aperol and a cube of sugar on the bottom of the glass. I’ve had this exact drink elsewhere, I forget where, but I know I’ve had the same combination. I like it just fine, but there are better ways to make sparkling cocktails in my humblest opinion.
After KC and Beer Boor finally arrived, we quickly chose our sides and the food shortly started arriving. I admit here that I am a pig, and my eyes are bigger than my stomach, so we probably didn’t need to add on extra sides. But we did… In any case, first to arrive was piping hot, freshly baked jalapeno bacon cornbread with butter and honey on the side. So good – the texture was cake-like, and a drizzle of honey made it taste like the best damn pancakes I’ll ever eat. Love. Some bits were spicy with fresh jalapenos, and some bits were meaty with the bacon… so good. Oh my.
Cheesy grits served in another screaming hot cast iron pan. If you’d made me pick less sides, this is the first one I’d have ditched because I’m not a grits fan. However, Beer Boor likes his grits – his face lit up when the server told us that was the 5th side available – and I’m never going to tell someone they can’t order something because I’ve greedily ordered everything else again. (True story, because if we don’t finish everything, just take it to go, that’s my philosophy.) I thought these were OK but at the end of the day, they’re still grits, so easily my least favorite side.
Bacon mac & cheese, which surprisingly was pretty good – I say that because a lot of times, I find places somehow make mac&cheese in a manner that I just don’t like. Cheese too sharp, or they try to be fancy with the cheeses, or they just… do something that makes me bleh on it. The pasta here was cooked perfectly, the crunchy top was great, the cheese was just right and the bacon made its presence known without being overwhelming. My only personal preference is that there be more cheese sauce, some gooey creamy cheese on the pasta, but that’s a personal preference and I certainly still enjoyed this without the extra cheesiness.
Another item that surprised me: before I tasted it, I commented that I don’t often have collards that are excellent in restaurants. They either overcook the crap out of them, or they undercook them and I’m eating something almost raw. But these were seriously the perfect shade of done: they retained their texture but they were completely soft enough to stuff into my happy mouth. The flavor was spot-on; not too salty, not too bland. A little tomato, a bit of ham (it was cooked with ham hocks), and just fantastic. I could have happily eaten the whole bowl, but there were other things on the table to eat!
When this tray appeared, I got really excited because I get irrationally happy and excited over things like this. Cole slaw, buttermilk ranch dressing, a jar of pickled items (pickles, fennel, watermelon rind, Italian peppers, and green beans), and a small jar of ‘spicy chow chow’ which is like a cabbage relish type thing. There was nothing on this tray that I didn’t like. The cole slaw was great, the pickled items – oh my stars, I loved everything in there and now I understand the fantastic taste of pickled watermelon rind, which means next year I’m not going to stare at my watermelon rinds and decide eff it, and throw them away, nope I’m going to save them and pickle the love out of them! these were so good!!! – the green beans, even the fennel – and I don’t actually like fennel – just great. The chow chow’s appeal was lost on me, but I guess some people like that stuff… and the buttermilk ranch was so good – I love ranch dressing in general – but I wanted to drink it. The chicken didn’t need it though. At all. But we’ll get to that in a second.
Our fifth and final side: mashed potatoes with gravy. A few people around the table said that these were just mashed potatoes, big whoop, but as someone who loves potatoes more than is healthy (well, ACTUALLY, potatoes are super healthy and good for you, but my love of them is just… a little weird – and no, not like that!), these were very good. Not completely smooth, which sometimes gives me the feel of fake potatoes, but with texture and body to the potatoes… and a very peppery, lovely gravy adorning it. I could also happily eat the whole bowl of this and not blink twice. (I AM the girl whose sister once made FIVE POUNDS OF MASHED POTATOES for Thanksgiving one year… because I said I wanted mashed potatoes, hahaha.) (She also loves potatoes a bit much.)
And the main attraction: the fried chicken. Two pieces per person.
Knowing me as he does, Beer Boor quickly handed over a thigh. Look at the crunch on the outside of that. The skin was almost impossibly crunchy, while the meat was juicy to a fault and stayed hot a very, very long time. I nommed on this with abandon; holy crap, THAT IS GOOD FRIED CHICKEN. I might even… I might even dare say that this is easily the best fried chicken I’ve had in a very long time. That might scare some people, because I’ve long looked for a fried chicken to give this title. But the seasonings were all ON, the skin stayed crispy, and the meat was just that tender and juicy. And… I didn’t finish both my pieces of chicken, so I took one piece home to eat a few days later. Three full days later, the chicken was still tender, and a quick spin in the toaster oven to crisp up the skin did no harm to the chicken – it would have been good cold, too, but I chose to eat it warm. So effing good.
Our entire table as the feast began.
And my first plate. Yep. I chowed down on all that, then set about eating more of the sides I’d liked best. Which was just about all of them except the grits – and that’s no fault of the grits, just that I don’t prefer grits.
Then we rolled out into the night, the lucky birthday girl clutching all the leftovers, happy as people stuffed with truly excellent fried chicken can be… and headed home. I went straight to my couch to cuddle with the dog who licked all the chicken grease off my happy face… just kidding! I licked it off my own face. Duh.
A big thank you to Hungry for planning this, and thank you to all of you for taking me out for fried chicken for my birthday! You guys are the bestest!!
Yvo says: Excellent fried chicken, very well executed side dishes, a sense of humor, a lovely atmosphere and a gorgeous, comfy space all mean I’ll be back at Brooklyn Star before you know it. (Plus it’s only like a 15 minute drive from me, no joke.) Note that you must make reservations ahead of time for the fried chicken dinner, there is a minimum of 3 people, and it’s only available certain nights of the week… and that they recently started doing a Dr. Pepper rib dinner as well, which I look forward to enjoying very, very soon… yum.