I’m a big fan of sneaking off with my husband to the Barn Bowl & Bistro on a weeknight in the off-season to grab a beer and some apps, so I was happy to try curbside pickup. In fact, I was so excited to order my bucket of fried chicken that I tried ordering at about 10 am Saturday morning. A quick call to general manager Mike Sawyer calmed my fears about ordering online — I was a little early, turns out. They’re open Monday through Saturday, from 5 to 10 pm, and doing curbside and outdoor dining. Once I settled that part, it left me the rest of the afternoon to think about what else we could order. We came up with a stellar lineup.
The thing about the chicken is that they brine it first in water, salt, and brown sugar, then they prepare it in a pressure fryer, just like Colonel Sanders did at Kentucky Fried Chicken. This makes for tender, juicy chicken with a crunchy outside. We chose an eight-piece bucket with a couple of sides — biscuits and coleslaw ($29.99). What I forgot to choose is a seasoning to go with the coating on the chicken — there are four to choose from — but it turned out just fine because the chicken is terrific without the added spices. In our house, everyone knows to order coleslaw as a side and then give it to me; I consider myself a coleslaw connoisseur. And I tip my hat to the kitchen, because this coleslaw is one of the best I’ve ever had, besides my mom’s of course — lots of crunchy cabbage and a sweet-but-tangy and non-mayonnaisey dressing that really stands out.
Even though it was the fried chicken I was after, there are three growing and adult men in my house, so I knew I needed to beef up my order. We added one of the newer BB&B favorites: Southwest Chicken Egg Rolls ($10 for two), one of my favorites, Bang Bang Cauliflower ($9), an enormous Shaved Brussels Sprouts and Kale Salad ($12), and something off the menu that we’ve never tried: Bacon Cheeseburger Pizza ($16). Yes, I’m aware that this is quite a spread. I had leftovers in mind when I ordered, in fact I’m eating leftover salad right now as I write this, and I recommend it very highly to everyone because it’s delish — tons of veggies, pecans, dried cranberries, and blue cheese crumbles. It’s one of those salads that I’m going to deconstruct so I can try to make it myself.
My son Dan promptly ate the Bang Bang Cauliflower so fast that no one else was able to get a fork in. My other son, James, concentrated on devouring the bucket of chicken, and my husband couldn’t stop raving about the Bacon Cheeseburger Pizza — basic burger sauce, shredded mozzarella, ground beef, bacon bits, fresh red onion, and chopped dill pickles. I believe his words were “I’d order this again!”
Mike said they’ve nailed down the fried chicken technique, something they were happy to add to the menu. “The chicken is very popular, because people really enjoy it, and it’s a good reason to look at our menu,” he said. Mike told me they brine the chicken for three or four hours before it’s ready for the pressure fryer, where it takes about 13 minutes to cook 40 pieces of chicken.
Besides the great food, the curbside experience overall was pretty sweet; one of the managers, Chris (Petro, a.k.a. “Captain Curbside”) Petropoulos, was the fabulously friendly greeter who checked on my order right away, and Mike (I could tell it was him even under the mask) brought the bundles of deliciousness right to my car. “You’ve got a good selection here,” he nodded as we piled it on my front passenger seat.
I think he was right.
Barn Bowl & Bistro, 13 Uncas Ave., Oak Bluffs, order online at thebarnmv.com. Open Monday through Saturday, 5 to 10 pm, with curbside pickup and outdoor dining.