Lately fried chicken seems to be everywhere in foodie circles and restaurant menus, along with gourmet hamburgers and desserts with either salt or pork or both. Vertical Bistro launches its entry into the All You Can Eat fried chicken sweepstakes with a $29 Sunday dinner, a concept that Eva Restaurant had success with last year and which Le Saint Amour also launched in this month.
On a recent Sunday the meal began with a first course of poached hen egg, bacon grits and frisee (above). I ate the hen egg and skipped the rest of the dish with the pork in it. The egg was cooked just right with a warm runny center. The second course was the star attraction, the fried chicken, which came with a variety of sides including collared greens, slaw, loaded smashed potatoes and jalapeno corn bread.
The side dishes were great. The slaw was refreshing and didn't include mayonnaise, which earned bonus points with me. The potatoes were rich, light and fluffy. The sides were generously portioned and like the chicken were all you can eat. The fried chicken (below) arrived alongside the sides and was good but not amazing. The chicken was nicely crispy and the crispy outer layer stayed on when taking a bite. (Nothing is sadder than seeing all the breading/crust fall off of a piece of chicken once it has been bitten or cut into.) I just wish the chicken had been moister; it was too dry. That did not stop me from having a second portion.
The jalapeno corn bread was a nice balance between the sweetness of the corn and the kick from the japapeno peppers. This was not a dessert, as some corn breads often taste like.
Dessert was a choice of apple tart with vanilla gelato or blood orange & pear sorbet. I chose the tart and was pleased. The caramel and apple are a classic combination and this version did not disappoint.
At $29, for all the meal includes, the Sunday night Fried Chicken dinner is a good value and a fun way to eat. The chicken and the side dishes are served family style, and everyone can have as much as they want of anything. For only $9 more you can have a generous carafe of wine with your meal, which I gladly did. My dinner companion and I ate in the lounge and it was quite comfortable; I think I prefer it to the main dining room.
Vertical Wine Bistro: Upstairs at 70 North Raymond Avenue, Pasadena. Phone: (626) 795-3999. Website: http://verticalwinebistro.com