Growing up in America, you eat a lot of fried chicken and pies. At least my family did. In our refrigerator, if there weren’t a few slices of pizza wrapped in Reynolds Wrap, there was a red bucket of good ole’ Kentucky Fried Chicken (this was before the dawn of Korean fried chicken in the States). Pies were also aplenty. My dad, not a believer in moderation, would buy at least four Entenmann’s pies at a time. (It was general knowledge in the house not to say we liked anything within hearing distance of our dad. Tell my dad you liked anything and there would a carton or two the next day in the dining room. A week later, a moldy carton would find its way into the garbage.) And don’t get me started on the stockpile of McDonald’s apple pies in the back of the refrigerator. I think my dad thought my mom liked them, but I don’t recall her ever eating one out of the refrigerator.
Now as an adult wary of fast food, I still have pizza in the refrigerator, but rarely do I have any fried chicken or pies. But that doesn’t mean I don’t eat them. I’m just pickier now on where I get my chicken and pie fix. Last month I was seriously craving fried chicken and somehow resisted the peppery wafts of Popeye’s two blocks from my old apartment. Instead, David and I took a trip over the bridge and made our way over to the newly reopened Pies-n-Thighs in Williamsburg. Homemade pies and chicken together in the same place? Game on.
A Fried Chicken Box ($11) had to be ordered. A box, which is not really a box but a platter (boxes are more fun, didn’t you know?), comes with one side and a biscuit. The chicken, which is brined before frying, was juicy and well-seasoned down to the bone. The exterior, however, could have been crunchier. I like fried chicken that crunches and crackles when you take a bite. The chicken at Pies-n-Thighs had a soft crunch.
The biscuit, more dense than average, was decent. I imagine if served hot, it would have been better.
For the side, I chose the Mac N Cheese which is served with a few squirts of hot sauce. Cooked over the stove and weak on cheese, I could have passed. The macaroni and cheese at P-n-T isn’t baked in the oven, so if you like a nice brown crust on your mac & cheese, order something else. As for the hot sauce, it’s interesting. I imagine if the mac & cheese was cheesier, the vinegary hot sauce would have helped cut the creaminess, but P-n-T’s version didn’t need it. I would have preferred more cheese instead.
French Fries ($4) were also needing more crunch. The fries were thin, but only vaguely warm. I suspect the fries had been sitting out for a while before they were brought to the table.
The Brisket Sandwich Box ($12) — three generous slices of smokey brisket between hearty slices of toasted white bread slathered with tangy barbecue sauce and mayonnaise — was far better. Eaten while hot, the steaming meat was soft and tender. As the brisket cooled, the meat seemed more dry, but that’s when the barbecue sauce and mayonnaise came into play. I’ve had better brisket that was more melt-in-your-mouth elsewhere, but the brisket sandwich was filling and more than satisfying.
The brisket platter also comes with a side, and although a side of vegetables seemed wiser, I went with the delicious Hush Puppies. The golden nuggets were crunchy on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and full of corny goodness. And covered with a dollop of gribiche with chopped pickles and lots of fresh dill, the fried hush puppies actually tasted light. I’d go back to Pies-n-Thighs for the scrumptious hush puppies alone.
Soon it was time for pie and I was torn between Sour Cherry and Cheddar Apple ($5/slice). Cherry is my all-time favorite pie filling, but the apple comes with a cheddar crust at P-n-T, so in the end the apple won out. Firm and tasting of warm caramelized sugar, the fat apples slices were quite good. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about the crust which was soggy and doughy. The baked on shredded cheddar did little to revive the floppy mess. Perhaps the cherry would have been better.
It wasn’t the best fried chicken or pie ever, but Pies-n-Thighs satisfied my fried chicken cravings for a night. If in the ‘hood, I’d swing by again for brisket and hush puppies on top of some pies and thighs. It’s also conveniently by the Williamsburg Bridge; perfect for a leisurely stroll back into Manhattan and past Popeye’s.