Chambers Street is lined with restaurant after restaurant, but it’s easy to grow accustomed to the selection and find yourself in a set routine. Most Stuyvesant students, for instance, have worked out a small handful of places that they make sure to hit during their lunch periods and after school almost ritualistically. That’s why it’s nice to see a very new kind of place open its doors. The Dirty Bird, a mostly take-out fried and rotisserie chicken hideaway at 135 Chambers Street, presents a new option to Tribeca lunch-goers.
Though quite small, the new location is actually larger than the original Dirty Bird on 14th Street. The Bird’s staff had expected a much smaller turnout of customers eating in, since Dirty Bird was originally conceived as an almost exclusively take-out joint. One employee, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “The eat-in business has surprised us but we are actually happy about it. It’s bringing in more customers and more people.”
The crux of the menu is the “Dirty Bird” fried and rotisserie chicken. The restaurant also offers chicken fingers, salads and sandwich wraps, and a variety of sides including mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, and coleslaw. All of the food is free of antibiotics and hormones.
The fried chicken is by far the best item. It’s crispy, but not dried out, with a mild seasoning. The chicken fingers are less exciting; they’re somewhat bland and the breading seems to fall off the hand-cut pieces. As far as sides go, try the mashed potatoes, which are buttery and freshly made. Another solid choice is one of the salads: if you’re looking for something with more green, you can get a tasty small chopped salad with an unusual variety of vegetables for $5.95. Shredded rotisserie or fried chicken can be added to the salad for an extra $4. Aside from the chicken and sides, the menu is limited. According to Dirty Bird employees, however, it may be expanded in the near future.
The interior of the restaurant is tiny: the Dirty Bird has done a nice job of working what is essentially a single hallway into an attractive-looking take-out joint with a distinct city feel. While the menu is full of Southern comfort food, the restaurant itself seems very urban, with its modern, starkly decorated interior and some 1990s hip-hop playing in the background.
One thing that isn’t tiny at this place is the cost. Organic or not, Dirty Bird charges some very high prices for its food. A three-piece fried chicken with one side dish, for instance, is $11.75. Half a rotisserie chicken with sides: $16.75. There’s definitely some food out there that’s worth high prices, but for the fare offered here, maybe not. The food is tasteful and filling; It’s just not incredibly exciting and might not be able to attract a Stuyvesant crowd to offer up a large piece of its wallet. Even when looking for healthier or higher-quality food, Dirty Bird can’t beat the nearby Whole Foods Market, which offers a large variety of less expensive organic food and a more pleasant eating space.