2/14/2013 02:37:00 PM

First Look: Down-Home Southern Charm (And Vegetarian Fried Chicken) at Sweet Chick

Looking to meet a sweet chick this Valentine’s Day? Guess what: we’ve found one for you! Well... sort of. Sweet Chick is the latest hipster Southern spot to arrive in Williamsburg, serving up fried chicken and waffles, mini cookie jars, cocktails named after Chris Rock jokes and plenty of down-home country charm. We decided to check it out to see if it could satisfy our mid-winter comfort food cravings.

Opening the restaurant has been a labor of love for founders John Seymour and Sam Saleh, who also own Pop's of Brooklyn across the street. The pair salvaged most of the rustic decor from old buildings, antiques shops and flea markets in Brooklyn, giving the space an authentically old-fashioned look. The wainscoting is made from old doors they bought from a retired fireman in Bed-Stuy, the wood on the rafters came from a building in Bushwick and many of the antiques hanging on the walls were purchased at Brooklyn Flea.

Photo courtesy of Sweet Chick
They also worked very closely with chef Randy Reppel to develop a menu of witty takes on Southern favorites, such as macaroni and cheese topped with crumbled Ritz crackers, collard and carrot slaw, pickled watermelon rinds and double chocolate pudding served in Mason jars. Of course, there's also fried chicken. ("I've been eating chicken for months. I'm starting to look like a chicken," Seymour joked.) The chicken is served with waffles that come in flavors like bacon and cheddar and rosemary and mushroom (plus maple syrup and strawberry butter on the side).

However, as much as we enjoyed the classic fried chicken, we were even more intrigued by the vegetarian fried chicken - a recipe that Reppel is especially proud of. "We make the seitan in-house, which is a long, complicated process," he said. "Then we put our own spices on it and fry it just the way we fry our chicken." The result tastes like a piece of super tender fried chicken - and there's no weird fake-meat aftertaste, either. Seymour said it's quickly becoming one of his favorite dishes on the menu. "I never even heard of seitan before I moved to Williamsburg," he said. "But now I'm a believer. I think we can make anyone a believer."

While the focus here is definitely eating, Seymour said he hopes people will "come for the food and stay for the bar scene." Not hard to imagine, given the fun, playful spirit of the cocktails. The Tiger Woods Y'all is a grown-up version of sweet tea, made with cognac, honey bourbon and Arnold Palmer soda from Brooklyn Soda Works, while the Purple Drank is made from gin fizz and Welch's grape juice (don't worry, there's no codeine involved - though we could imagine rap songs being written about this drink).

Brunch is in the works (naturally), and Reppel and Co. are beginning to cure bacon and develop recipes for a menu of sausages and hot dogs, which will also be made in-house. We got to try a sample last night and let's just say we can't wait to stop back in and check out the offerings once they're officially on the menu.

The Deets: 164 Bedford Ave., 347-725-4793, opens February 19


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