Chicken, Anchovies & More Chicken at Smorgasburg – NYC
After many repeated fails on my part (I kept forgetting Smorgasburg is only on Saturdays), David and I finally made it out to Smorgasburg two weeks ago. If you haven’t been, it’s a huge outdoor food market right by the East River in Williamsburg. And when I say huge, I’m not exaggerating. It’s food vendor galore! There are some issues of course like crowding, long lines, and a lack of shade (I have a burnt forehead to prove it), but nothing unmanageable and definitely forgivable considering the variety.
Yes, variety is the best part of these food markets. Unfortunately, David and I ran into a problem. BFC (Buttermilk Fried Chicken) was just too damn delicious. As soon as we got there, after a tiring bike ride over from the East Village, we decided to replenish our strength with fried chicken and a cheddar waffle ($10) before exploring the rest of the market. However, after one crunchy, juicy bite, we knew our plans would change. The chicken was moist, well-seasoned, and had a gloriously crunchy shell which reminded me of salty corn flakes in the best possible way. The breading was thick, but it was so good, I was grateful there was so much of it. The cheddar waffle was also really tasty with bits of cheddar studded throughout, and considering it was from a outdoor vendor, it was surprisingly crisp. What took it over the top though was BFC’s black maple (maple syrup with balsamic vinegar reduction) which is in a squeeze bottle on the right end of the table next to the napkins. Don’t miss out on it! It’s sweet but also acidic, so eaten with the cheddar waffle you get sweet, salty, savory, and sour all at once. It’s awesome stuff, and at the end, I was dipping the chicken in the black maple as well. Unfortunately, the small watermelon salad on the side was warm and soggy, but it wasn’t a big deal. It’s all about the chicken and waffle anyway.
After the chicken, we did a quick spin around Smorgasburg but ended back at BFC. WTF, BFC?! Why were you so delicious?! Round 2 was also tasty but unfortunately less so than Round 1. After we ordered, a line formed quickly behind us, and I think they felt a bit rushed, and the chicken may have been taken out of the fryer a little prematurely. As a result, the fat on the chicken skin hadn’t rendered out enough, and the breading wasn’t as crunchy as before. I guess that’s one of the dangers of outdoor dining: inconsistency.
We also had some fried anchovies ($7) from Bonchovie. Luckily, the table was next to BFC, and I’d grabbed an order before getting completely sidetracked by fried chicken. You can order the anchovies head-off or head-on, a.k.a. Jersey-style. Naturally, I got it Jersey-style. I’m sure Jon, or in this case Bon, would have wanted it that way. The fish were plump, meaty little buggers fried beautifully crisp, almost greaseless to the touch. There was some crunch, but more so from the fried breadcrumbs than the bones or the head. (The bones were soft and pretty nonexistent.) As for fishiness, anchovies being an oily fish, some was to be expected, but being fresh, it was minimal. Pickled peppers with a slight bite, smoked paprika mayo, and a lemon wedge on the side also helped curb the oiliness. The only thing lacking was a cold beer. Too bad the line for SmorgasBar, the makeshift bar in the center of the market, was crazy long.
Perhaps next time. My goal: more beer, less chicken. I dream big. But if I fail, I’m prepared to take my fried punishment.