Decent fried chicken? Check.
Fairly priced? No doubt.
Charming decor? Utterly adorable.
And the pie? Outta this world.
And yet, I hate to say it, but as I scraped together the few last bites of now-tepid collard greens, I couldn’t push back that nagging question that’d been lurking near consciousness since my first bite: This is what all the hype was about?
The briefest background for those not super-saturated with New York hot-button food topics: Chatter about the imminent reopening of this beloved neighborhood spot by this city’s fried chicken obsessed legions had reached near-deafening levels since the New Year.
More than a little swept away by the crescendo of voices — writers, bloggers and Twitterers, you too — chanting for Pies ‘n’ Thighs return, I was prepared for it, (dare I say it?) … this could be the best fried chicken I’ve ever tasted in my life. And, of course with that expectation in mind — it wasn’t. Good? Yes. OMFG-mind-blowing-beyond-words? Not tonight.
The skin was thick and a bit saggy on the bird, and I find one of the great joys of eating fried chicken to be the skin that’s so crisp it’s to the point of translucence. But let’s get down to it: Was the meat inside moist? Certainly. The whole meal ($10.99) was generously portioned and I handily finished everything, even my giant bowl of mac n’ cheese and second giant bowl of pork-laced collard greens. (I was very hungry.)
Unexpectedly — as I’m always a savory-first, sweets-second sort of girl — my favorite part of the meal was dessert. I shared a slice of peanut butter pie (bottom) and coconut cream pie with the chef, and both of them were just sublime.
The peanut butter pie reminded me of nothing so much as one giant Reese’s filling, only better, and as dense but creamier. It’s the sort of slice that’s best enjoyed by one forkful at a time — savor the bite, let the flavors melt into your mouth, set down the plate and go back for another bite a few (or 15) minutes down the way. It’s the perfect slice of pie for watching a movie.
And the coconut creme pie was pillowy and tropical, a luxurious pudding that was best eaten in-hand (so as to keep the filling from sliding off the crust). A thin chocolate layer added to the decadence. I’ll be chasing after the memory of slices like these when I order pie again in the near future.
So will I be back? Most definitely, for more things that come with biscuits, more pie, to explore more of the menu, and yes, probably one day for more of the protein portion of the restaurant’s namesake — although it’s telling that the fried chicken is at the last in line. Maybe by that time the hype will have subsided and the chicken and I, we can have a proper introduction.
No wonder chefs, restaurateurs and almost anyone involved with the business of food have a love/hate relationship (more like, hate/lukewarm like/hate some more) with the food blogsphere — although, for what it’s worth, that chatter showed me the door.
Pies ‘n’ Thighs, 116 S. 4th St., at Driggs St., 347-529-6090. Open daily.