We've wanted to go to Root & Bone in the East Village for the longest time since we knew they were supposed to have good fried chicken, but every time we had passed by, they were pretty crowded (and we're not big line waiters if there are other good options around). When A saw something on Blackboard Eats recently offering a discount, we jumped at the chance to go and made a reservation for the end of January. It was Restaurant Week and their Restaurant Week menu sounded good (including a free drink), but we decided to order a la carte instead. (Couldn't use the discount on RW anyway, but we really wanted the bucket of fried chicken which wasn't a RW option.)
To start off, we got an order of Grandma Daisy's Angel Biscuits with honey roasted chicken jus, benne seeds, thyme, and sea salt. We had pictured Southern biscuits sort of like the ones you would get at Bojangles, but what arrived looked more like dinner rolls. The insides were soft and the outsides a little bit crumbly with a little sweetness, and they were pretty dense. They weren't exceptionally large but they were really, really filling. We thought that the chicken jus on the side would have a little bit more chicken flavor than it did, but it was still a good dipping sauce.
There were 8 pieces of fried chicken (2 pieces each of breast meat, wings, thighs, and drumsticks) in the main event, the Crispy Fried Bucket of Bird, which was described on the menu as "free range organic chicken, sweet tea brined, lemon dusted, with spiked tabasco honey" for hot sauce on the side. Our perceptions of the chicken were a little bit different since M only ate white meat and A had both.
From M: The flavor of the fried chicken seemed good, but the breast pieces were pretty dry. It was good that we had the honey tabasco hot sauce on the side, because I definitely needed to use it. Overall, I felt like the chicken was fine, but not great, just because the white meat was so dry. That said, I did have the majority of the second breast piece as cold fried chicken the next day (with more hot sauce, which they were nice enough to pack up with the chicken without even asking for it). It was a little less dry as cold fried chicken, and I actually think I liked it better as cold fried chicken than freshly fried. I didn't really get any of the citrus flavor from the lemon dusting until eating it as cold fried chicken, and it really came out there in a good way.
From A: This was a little disappointing for how much hype there was from the reviews. The skin and breading had a salty and sweet flavor to it, but the chicken itself seemed a little bland. The white meat was also on the drier side, and that's always a disappointment. The dark meat was nice and juicy, but suffered from the same overall mild lack of flavor. I don't know how it happened, but after the descriptions of their chicken preparation, I was expecting so much more and ended up disappointed. I ended up using a lot of the honey tabasco, and that was really tasty.
We got two sides with our bucket of bird, the first being the macaroni and cheese, "big pasta" with crunchy cheese and a biscuit thyme crust. Compared to some other tables nearby, we definitely lucked out in getting tons of the crust, and we love the crust on mac and cheese. This was really, really good. The pasta had a nice chewiness to it, the cheese was rich, it was nicely seasoned all around, and the crispy crust on top livened up the texture. At first, we thought the side order looked a little on the small side, but after eating it, it was just right. We were big fans of the mac and cheese here.
The other side dish was the brussels sprouts which were crispy fried sprouts with pickled serrano, bacon croutons, and bourbon sorghum. We didn't expect it from the description, but putting aside the serrano, eating these brussels sprouts instantly transported us back to Kin Shop. Crazy that they reminded us most of Thai-inspired brussels sprouts, but there was something about the seasoning and the sauce that was just so similar, and the texture of the crispy fried sprouts was pretty much exactly the same. Since we loved those brussels sprouts, we obviously liked these too, and it was nice getting that flavor again. A found (unfortunately by accidentally biting into one) star anise, and that helped shed a little light on why the flavoring of the sprouts was so similar as that's more of an Asian seasoning.
We had a good dinner at Root and Bone. The vibe was fun, we had a good time with our neighbors, and the food was good. Although we liked the fried chicken, we wouldn't call it the best in NYC and there are definitely other places we prefer for fried chicken, even in the same neighborhood. But we enjoyed our experience there, which is really all we could ask for. If we ever do make it back, we'd look to try some of their other menu items, and definitely more of their sides.