As the proud father of a 16-month-old boy, I can attest that trying to find a “family-friendly” restaurant that actually gives a $#% about the quality of their food is no easy task in Dallas. And taking a kid to a fine dining joint is just not working out either. I mean, the last time I tried to take my kid to Lucia, the lil’ stinker spit out his foie gras and fig crostini like it was just another animal cracker and kept asking for hot dogs. The little ingrate. Well, lesson learned.
Needless to say, I was excited at the prospect of a family-oriented joint headed by one of the greatest chefs in Dallas (and probably in America), The Wizard of SMOKE, Mr. Tim Byers. Chicken Scratch attempts to reignite memories of childhood family picnics and communal eating, a happier time when eating was more than merely sitting down filling your pie hole. A time where the success of a meal was not merely measured by what’s happening on your plate but also by what is going on with the people you care about who are sitting at your side.
But don’t let Chicken Scratch fool you. While the thought of a “family-friendly” restaurant often conjures up nauseating memories of Cici’s pizza buffet, Chicken Scratch is nothing of the sort. In fact, it comes across less like a “family restaurant” and more of a community dining experience, an atmosphere free of pretense and Dallas glitz, where all comers feel welcome and comfortable regardless of age, social status, net worth, and number of plastic surgeries. Tim Byers is daring to challenge the Dallas norm.
(Tim's new backyard. That thar's a killer stage and lots o' picnic tables)
(Shaded outdoor space, for when it's 452 degrees outside in Dallas)
But how is the food? Dudes, the food is excellent. If it wasn’t any good, all this philosophical rambling would be a complete waste of time.
The fried chicken? One word: CRISPY! This stuff makes the Colonel’s original recipe seem like chicken coated in Jell-O. Byers know how to fry a bird. He made me a believer in cast iron skillet-fried chicken. You’ve probably read that Byers did a crap-load of research developing his chicken recipe, traveling the country to sample the various iterations of this classic dish. Well, he certainly found a winning recipe. Juicy, salty, tender, luscious.
The sides are no afterthought either. The biscuits are delicate and delicious with a smear of butter and honey. The mac and cheese is tangy and far from the gummy mess you would expect from the likes of Luby’s or Golden Corral. The mashed potatoes and fries are no slouch either. May I also suggest grabbing a side of their tangy and herbaceous buttermilk ranch. It’s the perfect accompaniment to the salty crust of the chicken.
Chicken Scratch’s website boasts these words: “Honest, Genuine, & Real. We are Slow Fast Food.” With most places, I’d say they are just blowing steam up your arse, but not with Chicken Scratch. These dudes are the real deal. Dallas needs more joints like this.
(Personal photo indulgence: The little rascal loves tetherball)
2303 Pittman St., Dallas