THOROUGHLY MODERN MISS: CrackBird, Dublin

I had received warnings shortly after arriving in Dublin that a trip to CrackBird could be dangerous, for, as the name implies, it can easily become an addictive habit. As a result, I held off until I had a particular visitor to stay who I knew would appreciate the opportunity to eat ‘posh KFC’ guilt-free.

Although essentially fried chicken is what CrackBird does, comparisons between this restaurant and that well known American fast food chain are meaningless. The owners of CrackBird are a very successful restaurateur team who also own Jo’Burger and Skinflint. These restaurants too, have taken the foods that we hate to love (burgers and pizzas respectively) and elevated them to new heights with quirky touches and culinary flair.

Located on Dame Street, just south of Temple Bar, the simplistic wooden banner above the full-length windows make CrackBird easy to spot among the neon lights of its neighbouring restaurants. And inside, the individuality of this busy spot continues, with walls decked with cool art works, wooden tables, and trendy looking staff. One look at your placemat, which handily doubles as the menu, will tell you that you really need to like chicken to enjoy a meal here. CrackBird does not falter in its intention to serve up Ireland’s most commonly eaten meat, but it aims to do so in an imaginative and most importantly, downright delicious, way.

CrackBird’s focus on chicken is so intense that the Menu is devoid of a single dessert. Certainly surprising, but it made us feel slightly less guilty about ordering a meal of a size to make the Irish rugby team proud. Between the two of us we chose a half-bucket (4 pieces – a thigh, drumstick, wing and a breast) of Buttermilk Chicken, the same order of Soy and Garlic Chicken, and some Chicken brochettes with a curry yoghurt crust. To accompany the star ingredient, we opted for some hand rolled croquettes, some sweet potato noodles, a carrot and cranberry salad, and on recommendation from friends who frequently visit CrackBird to feed their addiction, the burnt lemon and whipped feta sauce.

Like the style of the restaurant itself, the food was presented in a relaxed yet well-considered manner, which highlighted its inventiveness. Just managing to restrain ourselves until the waiter was a reasonable distance from our table, we delved into the buckets and commenced our chicken fix. The chicken was everything it should be: tender, juicy, and with expertly crisped skin. Both the buttermilk and the soy and garlic coatings gave great depth of flavour; the former offered both creaminess and a crunch, while the latter provided warmth and a well-measured saltiness. The curry yoghurt crust on the brochettes was another inspired topping, which worked perfectly with the sweetness from the carrot salad. The croquettes could have been marginally crispier, and I wasn’t taken with the noodles which, served cold, were a strange, almost slimy texture, but these were minor complaints. With a lashing of the feta sauce, which would have worked wonders on far inferior dishes, I was more than satisfied.

With chicken now so readily available at often very cheep (sorry) prices, it is easy to forget that it is a bird which, if cooked skillfully, can hold its own against its meatier rivals. A visit to CrackBird is a successful reminder of this, and it was a relief that the cost of the (exceptionally large) lunch was reasonable (€50), as I have no doubt I will be joining the crowds who give into temptation and head back for more.

More information here: www.joburger.ie/crackbird.html

Written by a Thoroughly Modern Miss, Lucy Freedman.