There aren't many things I'd be willing to wait two years for. I have the patience of a rascally kid on Christmas Eve. The saga of Honey Butter Fried Chicken is one of biblical proportions, drawn out over two-plus years with more buildup and anticipation than all the seasons of American Idol put together. Sorry Kelly Clarkson, but you're no fried chicken. At long last, the anxiously awaited fried chickenstaurant from chefs Christine Cikowski and Joshua Kulp is open in Avondale. The public can get their first taste tonight, when the restaurant opens at 5:00 p.m. Rest assured, this was one bird worth waiting for.
The Honey Butter Fried Chicken concept originated from one of Cikowski and Kulp's most popular supper clubs at their quasi-underground restaurant, Sunday Dinner Club. Originated in 2005, the restaurant was primarily run out of homes and other private spaces that required diners to RSVP via the Sunday Dinner mailing list. This way, all diners at supper clubs are somehow connected to the chefs, thus amassing a large community within Chicago. ANYHOO. One of the most popular supper clubs among guests, not surprisingly, was the fried chicken. With honey butter. So when toying with the idea of opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant, Cikowski and Kulp began conceptualizing ideas around past successes. Most notably their deep-fried poultry.
The chefs announced their concept a little over two years ago, and Chicagoans have been salivating in ancitipation ever since. No one has salivated over poultry this much since Sylvester first spied Tweety Bird. Rather than rush into an opening, the duo took their time to find likeminded business partners — graphic designers Jen Mayer and Chris Jennings — nab an awesome sous chef in Cameron Waron, and secure the perfect space, a building on Elston Ave. in Avondale, just around the corner from food destinations such as Hot Doug's and Kuma's Corner. Eventually, they shifted their Sunday Dinner Club to the space above the restaurant, while still building out Honey Butter itself. Well the time has finally come. The 60-seater opens this weekend, complete with a sprawling back patio and all the homey comfort food you can dream of. Locally sourced fried chicken takes the cake, served with honey butter and love. Vegetable-based sides are market-driven, such as heirloom tomatoes and roasted corn with dill vinaigrette, roasted sweet potatoes with cilantro and lime, and Chinese broccoli with red pepper sauce and goat cheese. Chocolate toffee cookies and market plum dump cake (think cobbler, but revelatory) comprise desserts, while boozy libations include local craft beers, Vinejoy wines, and cocktails.
Make like claymation in Chicken Run and get thee to Honey Butter Fried Chicken, y'all.
(Honey Butter Fried Chicken. Photo: Chris Jennings)