With this mantra in our minds and empty stomachs desperate for some food, PHOENIX Photography Editor and fellow foodie Ellen Bauch and I ventured to The Roost Carolina Kitchen (1467 W. Irving Park Road). After a debate, we decided we should walk the 0.7 miles from the Sheridan Red Line stop instead of taking the bus as a pre-chicken workout.
The store itself was a lot smaller than I had imagined, with only two long tables and maybe 20 seats total. However, it turned out to be a comfortable size for the steady stream of customers that were coming and going around 6 p.m.
The menu matches the size of the restaurant, but you can customize meals and try something slightly different each time you go. You start by picking between bone-in fried chicken or a bone-out sandwich (with a biscuit or Kaiser roll for a bun), and then select your spice rub: herb-seasoned, spicy or Nashville hot.
After choosing either the sandwich or the two-piece bone-in fried chicken, you can make it a meal and add two sides for only $9. Sides include biscuits, cucumber coleslaw, hand-cut potato chips, baked mac and cheese, bread pudding and peach cobbler.
We both decided to get the sandwich, and were told that the answer between Kaiser roll and biscuit is always biscuit (the Kaiser roll is the only thing they don’t make in-house). I added chipotle ranch and pickles to my sandwich, and chose mac and cheese and peach cobbler as my sides (a balanced meal if I do say so myself).
The woman behind the counter was extremely helpful and answered any question we had. On the menu, the options for the sandwich are either “spicy” or “Nashville hot,” but when Ellen asked if there was a less-spicy option, they offered not to dunk the chicken in the spicy flour mix.
The only thing the Roost gets marked down for would be that they only have bottled soda, and at $2.50 I was better off just sticking with water, despite wanting a Coke. I didn’t notice until I sat down that they also offer lemonade and sweet tea for $2, so I might have to splurge and try that next time.
After we ordered and grabbed our drinks, we sat down and waited in anticipation. The chicken is cooked to order, so it took about 15 minutes before our names were called and we got our food from the counter. The wait was well worth it, though.
I started with the mac and cheese while I waited for the chicken to cool. It was pretty tasty, but could have used a bit more flavor from some seasoned bread crumbs or different types of cheese. I enjoyed it as part of my meal, but I don’t think I would pay $3 to get it as an a la carte side.
The chicken sandwich, however, was perfection. The buttermilk biscuit was the best I’ve ever had. It was warm and flakey and had its own buttery flavor that was able to stand up to the chicken. If you choose to get the bone-in chicken, I would definitely get a biscuit as one of your sides.
The chicken had just the right amount of spice that creeps up on you as you’re eating it, and it was perfectly complemented by the chipotle ranch sauce and pickles. Comparing this sandwich to Chick-fil-A in any form seems like world’s biggest insult, but, without exaggerating, this sandwich was exactly a million times tastier and fresher with a much better value.
Finishing off with the peach cobbler was a great end to an even greater meal. It was warm, with a slightly crispy crust and a ton of sweet peaches and brown sugar.
Verdict: Go here. Go for breakfast, go for lunch, go for dinner. Just go.
Bonus points if you can find The Roost’s food truck one day when it’s near the Water Tower Campus (check here for location updates).