Flocking for Fried Chicken: Northern Chicken

After All is Bright two weeks ago, Mack and I wandered over to Northern Chicken. The brainchild of Chefs Andrew Cowan and Matt Phillips, Northern Chicken took over the space vacated by Relish Gourmet Burgers on 124 Street.

Much of the interior has been retained, but Andrew and Matt have made some changes – adding accents to the walls, expanding the open kitchen, and transforming the rear seating area into a rumpus room that can be booked for private groups. The space feels comfortable and unpretentious, and coupled with the excellent service staff we encountered that night, is a welcome sight.

Northern Chicken

Northern Chicken

The fried chicken concept is one that Andrew and Matt have been developing for some time. Both chefs have worked their way through many local kitchens (I met both of them years ago when they were at Century Hospitality properties), but are happy to finally be their own bosses. They’ve tinkered with recipes since their first pop-up back in April, and I think they’ve landed on some great flavours.

We ordered their three-piece fried chicken ($14) and a fried chicken sandwich ($14), both served with baked beans. For sides, we selected the honey thyme cornbread ($5) and the bacon creamed corn ($6).

Northern Chicken

The full meal deal

The restaurant was nearly full, so we were pleasantly surprised that the food arrived as quickly as it did. It was also incredibly hot – I had to let the fried chicken cool before I was able to handle it. I loved the breading, well seasoned with just a hint of spice. The chicken underneath (soaked for twenty-four hours in buttermilk) was incredibly juicy.

Northern Chicken

Three piece fried chicken

Mack was similarly delighted with his sandwich, which featured a very generous portion of fried chicken. He was particularly happy to encounter a soft bun more suited to this dish, a change made since that pop-up.

Northern Chicken

Fried chicken sandwich

Mack is the cornbread junkie between the two of us, and appreciated the thick-cut slice and dense crumb of Northern Chicken’s cornbread. That said, it was just a touch too sweet, with the honey overwhelming the cornbread itself.

Northern Chicken

Honey thyme cornbread

The bacon creamed corn, on the other hand, was the star of the show. I would have never anticipated this, but the texture and flavours hit all the right comfort food notes – I would look forward to curling up with a bowl on a cold winter’s night.

Northern Chicken

Bacon creamed corn

Before we left, Matt commented about how foot traffic really slows down after 9pm; it’s a reminder of how the area has changed since the Roxy Theatre burned down nearly two years ago. Given the cluster of establishments that have opened up within several blocks, however, I’m optimistic that diners will continue to flock to this neighbourhood for some great tastes. Congratulations to Andrew and Matt on the opening of Northern Chicken – see you again soon!

Northern Chicken
10704 124 Street
(780) 756-2239
Monday – Tuesday 11am-10pm, Thursday – Saturday 11am-11pm, Sunday 11am-late, closed Wednesday

Recap: Northern Chicken Pop-up @ Dovetail Deli

Restaurant pop-ups are still alive and well in Edmonton, showcasing everything from entrepreneurial concepts to collaborations with out-of-town chefs. Personally, my favourite pop-ups remain those that function as testing grounds for new ideas – they feel more raw and honest, with chefs putting out their heart and soul with the hope of being embraced by Edmontonians. Prairie Noodle is the most successful example of this, launching their brick and mortar shop after a series of sold-out pop-ups to test flavour profiles and their contemporary take on ramen.

Northern Chicken is the most recent pop-up of this nature, beget by the industrious chefs Andrew Cowan (of Packrat Louie and formerly of Century Hospitality Group) and Matt Phillips (most recently of Century Hospitality Group). The duo’s Northern Chicken celebrates comfort food done right, focusing on fried chicken and all the fixings.

Northern Chicken Pop-up

Chefs Matt Phillips and Andrew Cowan

Their first pop-up took place at Dovetail Deli on Sunday, and the weather couldn’t have been better. Mack and I took advantage of the sunshine and walk over to 124 Street, and upon arrival, was greeted by a (thankfully) fast-moving line.

Northern Chicken Pop-up

Hungry for fried chicken!

It was great to see many other chefs in attendance to support Northern Chicken, include Blair Lebsack from neighbouring RGE RD, Paul Shufelt (formerly of Century Hospitality and currently at Workshop Eatery), Levi Biddlecomb (of food truck Attila the Hungry, and fresh off his own pop-up at the nearby Prairie Noodle). Avenue Calgary Magazine recently conducted an interview with several Calgary chefs who spoke very highly of their collaborative, supportive food community, and I’m fairly certain something similar could be said of the scene in Edmonton.

At any rate, the menu was short and sweet – the choice between Matt’s fried or Andrew’s spicy chicken, a fried chicken sandwich, and sides of bacon truffled cream corn, Doritos mac and cheese, and coleslaw. Apple and buttermilk pies also tempted on the counter.

Mack and I both opted for the fried chicken sandwich ($9), and chose to share a side of mac and cheese ($8). We grabbed a couple of cold drinks and took our takeaway order outside to the picnic tables down the street.

We were most impressed by the size of the sandwich, with a hefty piece of breaded white meat, between a housemade sourdough bun, pickles, slaw and spicy mayo. We found the breading to be crispy, sealing in the juices of the meat. I also loved the thick slices of pickles for texture and taste. Our only critique was dense sourdough bun – we appreciated that it held up nicely, but our preference is for a more yielding type of bread.

Northern Chicken Pop-up

Fried chicken sandwich

The Doritos mac and cheese didn’t quite live up to its name – we were expecting a very obvious dusting of chips on top, or somehow visually integrated into the pasta. But besides the vibrant orange of the mac, we were left with an aftertaste we couldn’t quite place.

Northern Chicken Pop-up

Doritos mac and cheese

It’s great to see more concepts bubble up in Edmonton. I wish Chefs Andrew and Matt all the best as Northern Chicken comes closer to fruition. Follow them on Twitter to find out about their next event!