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SOUTHERN COMFORT: Burger and fried chicken joint does simple well

Rooster & the Crow’s fried chicken is now a new favorite in Wilmington. Photo by Rosa Bianca

 

Stepping into Rooster & the Crow is like entering a cozy medieval-castle-ski-lodge. Located in the former NeMa spot in Chandler’s Wharf, Rooster & Crow has received quite a facelift from its former eatery, including trendy Edison bulb chandeliers. The only thing warmer than the atmosphere is the service. My husband and I met one of our usual suspects for dinner, and as soon as we set foot in Rooster & the Crow we were greeted by a wonderful server who instructed us to sit wherever we’d like.

I found the restaurant’s menu on its Facebook page, as it doesn’t currently have a website. A perfunctory glance over the menu brought one word to mind: hearty. In other words: Go when a comfort food craving hits.

The burger menu is ripe with variety—and not just the usual suspects like mushroom and Swiss (but they have that, too). Rooster & the Crow’s options include the Barnyard Brawl—which has a patty topped with fried chicken and bacon—and the Graceland—which features bacon, peanut butter and caramelized bananas. For me less is more when it comes to burgers, so I went with the Water Street, garnished with only lettuce, tomato and cheddar.

One thing that made me raise an eyebrow: no condiments? Lo and behold, it didn’t need them. This burger had a secret, which I didn’t find until the succulent patty scooted over just a bit: a buttered and grilled bun. I ordered it medium, and it was cooked to perfection. The patty is a combination of brisket, short rib and chuck, which explains why it was so rich and full of flavor.

Color me impressed, Rooster & the Crow. I’m not just a Winnie’s girl anymore.

The sweet-potato waffle fries on the side were thin and crispy, just how I like them. I wondered if they were frozen, since they also tasted like others in town.

Rooster & the Crow’s burger is a homerun, too. Photo by Rosa Bianca

 

My husband opted for the fried-green tomato BLT with a side Caesar. The sandwich was flawless. I especially appreciated that the tomatoes weren’t cut too thick. The spicy mayo had just enough kick to balance out the rich bacon and luscious tomatoes. The side Caesar wasn’t anything to write home about, but it wasn’t offensive either. It was over-dressed for my liking, and lacked the garlicky bite I love so much. Though I loved the shaved Parmesan, store-bought croutons—while crunchy and delicious—felt a little impersonal, and the $3 upcharge didn’t add up to the quality.

Rooster & the Crow boasts it has “hands down the best fried chicken in all of Wilmington.”  Whoa there, boys. Thems some fightin’ words, especially after tasting the fried golden deliciousness from Truck’s last week. (Maybe we need to have a fried chicken festival now to settle the score.)

The menu explains the chicken goes through a brining process before being fried in a pressure cooker to produce “a wonderfully juicy chicken.” Of course, we had to try it. Our buddy got it with mashed potatoes and green beans (and won the comfort-food ordering challenge).

I am pleased to announce we have a new contender for Wilmington’s best fried chicken. Rooster & the Crow’s fried chicken was, indeed, wonderfully juicy, and the breading was crispy, crunchy and salty. The portion was extremely generous, comprising half a chicken and two sides for just $15.50.

 

 

 

 

We all loved the mashed potatoes, which were perfectly buttery with bits of skin throughout (#winning) and a little sprinkle of oniony chives. The green beans tasted like they came from a can and were under seasoned.

All of the portions were large enough that when a fourth friend joined us, we just gave her parts of our dishes. It was plenty to eat.

The restaurant has an extensive beer list with plenty of local options, as well as a humble but diverse wine list. I decided to go with a cocktail, Swamp Thing. It’s listed as being made with Mother Earth whiskey and orange juice, topped with grenadine. Simple, not too many frills, perfect. I caught a glimpse of the bartender making it and saw him use Jack Daniel’s instead of Mother Earth. I was surprised when our server presented me with blue-green liquid in a pint glass. (Swamp Thing; now I get it). One sip and I knew it wasn’t for me—which doesn’t mean it isn’t for someone else. I just would have appreciated a heads up that there’s Blue Curacao in it.

When our server noticed I hadn’t had much of it by the end of our meal, she offered to swap it out for something else. I politely declined. I think updated menu literature would mitigate any more being sent back.

Regardless, overall, our experience at Rooster & the Crow was wonderful. With a touch of work on the sides and menu, it would be excellent. The entrees and service were delightful, and I speak on behalf of our whole crew when I say we are looking forward to our return.

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, 910tix.com. Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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