Location: 43 Canal Street (Between Ludlow and Orchard)
It’s always nice to know that no matter how fancy or simple a restaurant is, that a well-made piece of fried chicken will keep people coming back again and again. Fried chicken can take on many forms, from the wonderfully oily guilty-pleasure that is May Wah‘s fried chicken over rice, to the meticulous and delicate double-fried egg-shell consistency of Bonchon‘s wings, to the hyper-flavored spice rub covering every last inch of Hill Country Chicken‘s wondrous thighs. If it’s breaded and comes in drumstick form, I’m already 100% on board.
Pies ‘n’ Thighs started in a tiny hole-in-the-wall place in Williamsburg but more recently has expanded to another location in the rapidly shifting border between Lower East Side and Chinatown. The calling of carbs and deep-fried Southern goodness is pretty hard to resist.
If it’s breaded, deep-fried, and comes in drumstick form, I’m already 100% on board.
With space for maybe 30 people in the entire restaurant, Pies ‘n’ Thighs isn’t the tiniest place around, but we were still extremely fortunate to be seated right away mid-Sunday afternoon for brunch. The light wood tables and booths opposite stainless steel panels evoke a combination of old-school diners and someone’s house. Staff carry freshly-made pies and doughnuts straight down the aisle of seats and set them down to cool by the front window. The cooking is performed right behind the bar, so the scent of frying chicken and simmering country gravy completely fills the restaurant. All signs point to an extremely enjoyable and authentic culinary experience.
Every bite rings with a thoughtfulness about innovation of flavor while retaining an authenticity to their simpler origin dishes.
The chicken and waffles absolutely knock it out of the park. The chicken itself has a crispy, crunchy exterior that somehow manages to stay intact despite the incredibly juicy and flavorful meat inside. And its savory goodness is juxtaposed against the brightness of a not-too-sour cranberry walnut sauce, which is spread over a subtly sweet waffle that can soak up every last drop of flavor from everything else on the plate (and other people’s plates as well, in my case!) Every bite rings with a thoughtfulness about innovation of flavor while retaining an authenticity to the simpler dishes from which they were derived from. I can definitely get behind the little twists and fine-tuning that went into refining these recipes into the form that made it to the table.
And hopefully, my table, many many more times. Good times.