Chicken + Whiskey = Lunch?

July 17, 2017
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Before you start judging me based on the title of this post, hear me out.  Just the name of this new restaurant (Chicken + Whiskey) made me giddy. I thought – what evil genius combined two of my favorite things into this delightful restaurant called …(you guessed it) Chicken + Whiskey.

In today’s world of complicated restaurant concepts, the simplicity of this concept and name alone made me want to come back.

The restaurant is divided into two areas.  In the front, there’s Peruvian-style chicken with all the usual side dishes and plus more.  In the back, behind the faux freezer door, there’s a bar full of whiskey.  There is one rule at Chicken + Whiskey. Chicken ordered at the front of the restaurant may not travel to the bar, but alcohol may travel to the chicken in the front.

Your plan of attack should be to grab a menu and head straight to the back.  Pass through the freezer door into the bar — a cheerfully decorated space with light streaming in from the skylights and booze a-flowing, where a DJ starts spinning tunes at 3pm on Sundays. The ice is hand-carved, which is a nice touch, though it unnecessarily increases  the bartender-to-drinker travel time.

The selection of whiskey is not extensive but it’s well-curated. Two-ounce pours range from about $7 to $30 and, for a small additional charge ($1 or $2), the bartender will convert your whiskey of choice into an Old Fashioned, Manhattan, Rob Roy, or Sazerac.  Our bartender was pleasant and recommended a few options for us that were tasty. If you don’t feel like walking back to the front of the restaurant because you’ve had more whiskey than you originally planned, there is a separate bar menu that includes wings and sandwiches, among other selections, which will allow you to satisfy your hunger pangs without embarrassing yourself as you bob-and-weave your way back to the front. (Yeah, you know who you are.)

After enjoying our cocktails, we traveled to the front of the restaurant where we split a half chicken and two sides for about $13.  One side tasted like a smooth guacamole, but had a fancier name. The rice dish was a clear winner. It contained bacon and hence had me at first bite.  Interestingly, the rice dish was chifa-inspired which means it has its roots in Chinese cuisine.  Having traveled to Peru recently, Chifa restaurants are common so I appreciated the restaurant’s recognition of this important component of Peruvian cuisine.

The chicken itself met my expectations for Peruvian-style chicken, but the two sauces, available in squeeze bottles at each table, were nothing to write home about.  The green sauce packs some heat so start slowly.  The yellowish sauce was creamy and balanced out the heat of the green sauce nicely.  The contrasting flavors paired well together, but I can’t say I’m dreaming about these sauces.

Overall, I think Chicken + Whiskey delivers by providing solid offerings of chicken and whiskey in one convenient location. It’s a place for all occasions – it’s an easy place to start or end the evening, or, in my case, it’s an easy place for grabbing lunch on a lazy Sunday.

Chicken + Whiskey 1738 14th Street NW, Washington, DC.

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