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First Bite

First Bite: Whistle Britches

This new chicken restaurant is located in the space formerly known as Spork in North Dallas.
By Nancy Nichols |
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First Bite: Whistle Britches

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I’m going to be honest with you. I miss Spork.

For those with the attention span of a moth, Spork was a family-style restaurant built in an abandoned Sonic location at the corner of Frankfort and Preston Road. The patio was dog-and-kid friendly, the burgers were great, the happy hour cocktails were $5. My family met there all of the time. My nephew cried when I told him they’d closed.

That was last January. In March, we noticed a permit on the door with Dallas chef Omar Flores’ name on it. The talented chef at Casa Rubia in Trinity Groves told us he was going to open a fried chicken restaurant with sandwiches, whole fried pieces, biscuits, salads, and other Southern-style dishes.

I took my family for a quick dinner on Wednesday night. It was brief because we could not hear each other talk. Despite a complete overhaul of the interior, the restaurant is somehow louder than Spork. Maybe it was because there were no kids there. The place was full of adults drinking.

The chicken-centric menu is small. We sampled the deviled eggs. Six half eggs were served on a oh-so-cute ceramic egg carton. The eggs were hard boiled, the yolks were not whipped, they were covered with a squirt of Japanese Kewpie Mayonnaise, a little dill relish, a dot of pickled mustard, and a slice of Benton’s country ham. How all of those ingredients resulted in a bland version of a deviled egg is beyond me, but they were tasteless. Maybe popping the whole thing in my mouth wasn’t the best way to eat one, but that’s how I ate it.

My brother had trouble holding the massive Pitmaster sandwich in his hand. After each bite, huge sections of bread, chicken, cilantro slaw fell across his plate and on to the floor. It a mess to look at, but in between bites he managed to flash me a thumbs up on the barbecue chicken concoction. That’s how guys eat and report.

The much anticipated fried chicken was good, but not great. The Sir Mix a Lot has 3 pieces of chicken, a side of potato salad, and a rectangular biscuit. The crust on the chicken was nice and crunchy, but again not highly spiced. (A double dose of cracked pepper would have been welcomed.)

The best dish was the Hot Dang, an open faced sandwich with a highly hot Nashville-style breast of chicken covered with a dill-spiked ranch dressing. I swiped my nieces bread and butter pickles when she wasn’t looking. Loved the pickles.

I ordered the Auntie Louann without the bread. I was served a nice piece of grilled chicken covered in pimento cheese, heirloom tomatoes, and thousand island dressing. Despite the jalapeno zing in the pimento cheese, the overall flavor was boring. The tomatoes were lovely, but the thousand island salad dressing was without any distinguishing taste. I added ketchup, pepper, a chopped up pickle and swirled it on top to improve the dish.

I’m not sure how this joint is going to do in this finicky location. It was crowded on a Wednesday night and the crowd was mostly young professionals. I did notice that the snake bit location across the street that was recently Pat’s and Mike’s is now a seafood joint called Pinch the Tails. The parking lot was almost empty.

Maybe North Dallas professionals will take to this place. It’s certainly not a typical suburban restaurant. The cheery interior, loud vibe, and professional service is more like a spot you’d find in Uptown, the Design District, or Deep Ellum. Let’s sit back and see how it all goes.

In the meantime, I hope chef Flores puts more substance in his style at Whistle Britches.

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