Wednesday, I found myself running errands through the confusing “P” streets of Plano: West Park, Parker, West Parker, West Plano Parkway, they all make me crazy. They are all concentrated in one area which makes it more difficult to know where and when to turn.
People in Plano drive fast. If a non-Plano person has to slow down to try and read which “P” street they are approaching, they are likely to get an emphatic honk or the ire of a driver with his hands up.
I bring this up because I got all my signals crossed and took a wrong right turn because some nimrod was riding so close to the rear of my car, I turned to avoid the distraction. In hindsight, I wonder if the botched turn was the work of a supernatural French fry goddess. During my semi-scientific, no-list search for great fries, I have been mysteriously steered to fries as if I was a human planchette on a ginormous Ouija board. Wednesday, the goddess took control.
I swung into a Preston/Parker crossing to turn around, and there, beaming at me like a video screen in Times Square, stood Farmbyrd Rotisserie & Fry. It’s a funky, fast casual chicken spot run by restaurant veterans. Chef Ryan Carbery (Redfork, Nosh, Bailey’s, Patrizio) and Tim McLaughlin, his longtime friend who happens to be a co-owner of Lockhart Smokehouse. The menu features rotisserie and fried chicken, creative side dishes, wraps, and salads.
There’s also a friendly bar area with craft cocktails and local beers. The interior is light and bright and family friendly. I sauntered up to the “order here” sign and asked the nice lady if they made their own fries. I guess I should have been more explicit. She replied, “Yes, we cook them here.” I clarified my request and asked if they cut the potatoes in the kitchen before they cooked them there. She said no and named the company that delivered the frozen packages.
Before you stick your nose up in the air—remember we’ve talked about this before—not all frozen French fries are created equal. Chefs can choose different cuts, sizes, and grades of potatoes. Many high-dollar restaurants use high-grade frozen fries and dress them in butter or fresh herbs. Making hand-cut fries is a tedious task that involves a lot of labor and not everybody is willing to make that commitment. Especially since 90-percent (my estimation) of the customers cannot taste the difference in cost. Wait, make that 95.
I placed my order for a quarter chicken (dark meat), fries, and slaw. As is my usual course of action, I was in my car one minute after I received the bag of food. I flipped open the cardboard box. Holy smokes, these skinny fries were glowing neon red. They were coated with a healthy dose of blended spices. The freshly fried stiff soldiers were nice and hot. They had a lovely crunch. It took a few bites of the heavily spiced fries to temper my mouth. This wasn’t a usual salt-laden mix, it was a complicated blend that included paprika, oregano, cinnamon, thyme, and a touch of sweetness.
Later I called to get the skinny on the fries. The nice lady on the phone said she couldn’t tell me all of them. “Chef Ryan has a Lebanese background,” she said. “He hand mixes 14 to 17 different spices each morning. He is very particular about that mix.” I managed to confirm the thyme, cinnamon, and oregano, and she shard the fact that Carbery uses three or four different types of paprika. He uses a lighter version of the blend on the rotisserie chicken.
Carbery makes all the salad dressings and five sauces for the chicken. I picked the Shut the Cluck Up, an Asian red chile sauce. I forgot to put it on my chicken and, instead, used it as a salad dressing.
I think Carbery would support my improvisation. They encourage it in the restaurant. If you sample the sauces and dressings and find one you love, they’ll toss a hot order of fries with it. That is a fun-with-French-fries-day project waiting to happen. Make sure you turn on West Parker Road in Plano.