locals i love | crispy bird
I met Martha Hoover during my first few weeks living in Indianapolis. I attended a Linking Indy Women networking event and she just so happened to be the speaker. I was greatly inspired by her words and the biggest thing I took away from her talk was that she said she didn't have a plan b when she started Patachou, Inc. She was going to make her dream work and she did just that. I approached her after the event to thank her for her time and she was just as lovely to speak to one-on-one. Before starting Patachou, Inc., Martha was a sex crimes prosecutor. She had never worked in the hospitality industry, but was a foodie and wanted to serve people the same foods she served her own family, which happened to be fresh and local to the state.
For the non Indianapolis readers, Martha Hoover established Patachou, Inc. in 1989 and has created five stand out restaurants that are on the cutting edge of food, service, and design for the Midwest. Stop by the site to read a little about Cafés Patachou®, Petite Chou Bistro and Champagne Bar®, Napolese Artisanal Pizzerias®, Public Greens Urban Kitchen® and Crispy Bird® and see what all the talk is about. In addition to her success with the above, Patachou Inc. also created a 501c3 called The Patachou Foundation. The foundation serves healthy meals to at-risk and food insecure children, making it clear that the initiative is to invest in our community. To quote an exert from the Patachou website:
"Independently owned and female-led, Patachou Inc. is a company that uses its 2020 vision as a guideline to create a radically different and radically better company in these five critical areas: Food Sourcing, Customer Experience, Leadership Opportunities, Sustainability and Commitment to the Community."
How amazing is that?? Hoover has been recognized countless times, but most recently as Eater's "2017 Restaurant Empire builder of the year" and Fortune's "1 of 20 most innovative women in food for 2017". Hoover's latest venture is Cripsy Bird, located on 49th Street in the idyllic Meridian-Kessler neighborhood. The best way to describe Meridian-Kessler is to just think of the house in the movie Father of the Bride. Beautiful residential streets lined with mature trees and young families. It is one of my favorite areas in Indianapolis because it is the only area that really looks like home (the south). We live in a suburb on the Northside, so the location of Crispy Bird is a welcomed option for us, meaning we don't have to trek downtown. I made a reservation for us a week out (it is the only way you are getting in right now!) and we were immediately greeted and seated upon arrival. The walls are a beautiful natural plank wood, complimented by black matte tables and booth seating. Painted white ceiling beams and exposed ductwork add the industrial, but warm, feel to the space. The walls have traditional, yet modern, chicken prints and the booths are adorned with understated, but implied, southern-esq cushions.
Chelsea, our server, came over right away with water. She was friendly, attentive, and a pleasure. Servers were in sleek black pants and seersucker button ups adorned with an old school logo patch. I LOVE the implied southern touches that feel like a real nod to our culture without classifying themselves as southern. I also love that it is the perfect mix of traditional southern elements coupled with modern ones, like black and white seersucker, for example.
I am usually a hater on "southern" cuisine outside of the south. Unless you grew up with southern grandmothers, there is very little chance you are making the kind of biscuits and fried chicken that I grew up on. I went into my first Crispy Bird experience having read rave reviews of said biscuits. When we first walked up, we overheard one guy say" Man, these are the best biscuits I've ever had". I was definitely intrigued.
We started with their homemade root beer soda and the Airmail cocktail. I loved my cocktail and found it hard to choose which one I wanted with all of the creative options. We ordered the biscuits and kale salad as our appetizers. Let me just say this, I had to eat the biscuits with my eyes closed. It's hard to say if it was the biscuits or the homemade maple butter, but it literally transported me to Sunday's at my Meme's in south Georgia. Are you clukkin' kidding me? (sorry, I had to) You see, there is a big misunderstanding about biscuits. People think they have to be soft and moist, but that isn't correct. The outside should be crispy and the inside should be a million layers of soft flaky goodness. They passed my test with flying colors. They totally wowed me. The salad consisted of kale, brussels, cabbage, and apple with a grand finale of pistachio dressing. The flavor in that dressing is robust, but not overpowering at all. It was so tasty and a standout in itself. It seems this entire experience is a mass of the best kind of contradictions.
For our main courses we both ordered the breast, served with pickles and coleslaw, the twice baked potato, and mac-and-cheese. The chicken was perfectly fried and the meat not a bit dry. The breast was larger than my hand! They serve American Freedom Ranger, which is a heritage breed raised exclusively for them by Gunthorp Farms, who uses old world farming and breeding methods. The quality absolutely showed. Mike's favorite was the potato, but it really tied for me with the mac-and-cheese. Mac-and-cheese is another dish that varies with region. I grew up on macaroni noodles with the crispy, gooey cheese on top. It's not all velveeta-y and creamy. I rarely find mac and cheese I like, but I'll be damned, they even got that just right! I actually looked at Mike and said " It's just like my moms!".
Every item we had was delicious. The design is clean and beautiful. The staff was friendly and helpful. The tunes were fun and the vibe was urban. We already have our list of what we want to try next time (hellooo desserts!) and we are so glad to have such a hot new spot for a fun night out. Not only being a transplant from the south, but also a New Yorker, it's really exciting to have options like this right here in Indianapolis. My only regret is that I did not snap a few more pics, but I was too busy enjoying the night.
Welcome to Indy, Crispy Bird!