The Gist: Chef Cory Vitiello is largely responsible for the current chicken renaissance happening in the city (props also to Chef Daniel Boulud and everyone with fried chicken on the menu). Completed transforming the previously dry, boring, flavourless poultry we all grew up with, he’s not just revitalized it, he’s it made sexy again.
The second location of the FLOCK brand opens in the charming space formerly THR & Co.
The menu is simple – chicken, sides, soups and sides, all made fresh daily – and affordable. Just like the Adelaide location, exception here he’s added seating, booze, fried chicken and desserts. It’s everything you need.
Grub: Of course the main feature attraction here is the chicken. Vitiello chose the Rotisol rotisserie grill, made in France, for his birds. "It gives the most even cooking. You can have 40-50 chickens cooked to exact doneness in 55 minutes to an hour. The skin is crispy, but not the least bit charred." And a bit of blackness to the skin is good, he says. "It’s the spice that’s burning, not the skin."
The naturally-raised, no hormones, no antibiotics chickens are from Farm Fresh Poultry Co-op Inc. of Harriston, Ontario and are roughly 2.3 -2.6 lbs. each, the best size for the rotisserie. Any bigger and they dry out, says Vitiello. The combination makes for some of the best, most succulent chicken in the city.
Libations: A small yet smart selection of wine, beer and cocktails (Blood Orange Negroni, Cucumber Margarita, Lavender Gimlet, Spiced Pineapple Punch, Sweet Tea Mint Julep) is available and priced reasonably – wines by the glass $7-$11, cocktails $9-11. One of the best pairings to go with that chicken? Crisp, clean Ace Hill Pilsner ($8), the current go-to brew in the city.
Deets: The charming room has 54 seats, but that rockin' patio adds another 70 to the mix.
p.s. Did you know that you can come in, sit down to dinner and be out in just 45 minutes? Vitiello says, "Everyone’s got somewhere to be. They don’t have three hours for dinner anymore. We’ll get you a whole roasted chicken and sides on the table in five minutes and out the door in forty-five."
Dine in, take out (in fully biodegradable pulp containers) and delivery available.
Fixtures & Fittings: Vitiello did a lot of the overhaul himself. Bradley Denton (who did the initial THR & Co. design) made it more playful, "less destination-dinner spot, more friendly and whimsical," says Vitiello.
With new lighting, bar stools and dining chairs (found at a local antiques market), the space is comfortable, yet stylish. Retro signage – curved arrow and the word "bar" - light up with round bulbs that deliver a soft glow. And that wallpaper comprised of the FLOCK chicken logo? Amazing.
A take-out counter was created so that pick-up orders can be easily accessed without disturbing guests at the bar. Speaking of which, you can sit and have a drink while you’re waiting for your meal to go.
Off the Menu:
Spiced Squash & Lentil Soup ($6) This vegan soup made with coconut milk is one of the heartiest, most enticing bowls in the city. Packed with a variety of beans, chopped carrots and celery, pumpkin seeds, parsley, and a slow harissa heat, it’s not just healthy – it will tide you over until the next mealtime.
Boho Flock Salad (half $8/full $11.50) The energetic BOHO (with marinated kale salad, red quinoa, cherry tomato, roasted and raw beets, dried currants, pumpkin seeds, carrots, pomegranate, sweet peppers, with beet, basil and orange vinaigrette) is phenomenal. The kale has been softened but isn’t soft. A nice juxtaposition to the kale are the finely diced sweet peppers that are truly sweet and juicy, bright red tomatoes (not a stitch of white anywhere). The crunchy pop of pumpkins seeds and carrots is delightful, as is the chew of quinoa and currants.
Barbary Flock Salad (half $8/full $11.50) Another jam-packed salad (crisp romaine, cucumber, garbanzo, pickled onion, lentils, sweet peppers, dried apricot, pickled turnip, feta, olives, olives, pistachio, with tahini, sundried tomato and oregano dressing) that is perfectly balanced. Eat it and just try not to say, "I could have this every day for the rest of my life." Impossible.
p.s. FLOCK salads average about 14 ingredients - that's twice as many as you're used to. And you should see how big the half portion is. Good lord. The full is truly enough for two.
Halved Chicken ($9.50) with Rotisserie Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Beets with Crispy Onions ($4.50) Crisp, tasty skin that reveals tender meat beneath. So addictive. And even the side of sporuts contains not just a single ingredient, but three. The crispy onions put it right over the top.
5-Piece Fried Chicken Platter ($17) 5 pieces of buttermilk fried chicken with cheddar biscuit, slaw, honey & hot sauce Once you've tried the rotisserie chicken, it’s hard to imagine wanting anything else, but this fried chicken is the best in the city. Tender, moist, creamy white and dark meat is tucked under a thin crisp layer of spiced coating, free of grease. Complete with biscuit, slaw and hot sauce in hand, it's heaven.
How Cool is This?! Two more locations will open soon - 67 Richmond St. W. in mid-March and 75 Church St. mid-May.
Head Honchos: Chef Cory Vitiello, Chris Shiki, Benjamin Raine
Visiting Hours: Everyday all day - 11am to 11pm
Map It: 97 Harbord St. (near Spadina)
Phone It In: (647) 748-7199
Check out more photos on our Facebook page.