On The Plate
Chicken Chain Of The Future
I remember the first time I went to Swiss Chalet with my parents, back in the day, when there were only a handful of locations in the city. The chicken, sauce, bun and french fries - you could feed a family of four for $10! And years later as a young parent, I appreciated the value, continuity and family friendly food. Cory Vitiello’s Harbord Room is sadly closed, but he’s happily focused his energies on Flock, a chicken based restaurant (on Harbord) and take out/food court chain (three downtown locations), that is both brilliant in its inception and execution.
I’ve only eaten at the restaurant, which has a broader menu than the other locations. It’s housed in the former location of THR & Co (Messis before that). It’s a modern, open room with booths, big tables and bar seating (for those who can’t get reservations).
While the focus of the food at Flock is chicken (which I’m told, anecdotally, is the same that is sourced at Cafe Boulud for their stellar roast chicken), the salads are every bit as good. All are $12.50 for a large and $9.00 for a ½, and are well thought out and composed. So much so, that my wife, the eternal “off-menu’ orderer, sticks to the script. Her favourite is the Boho Flock - marinated kale salad, red quinoa, cherry tomato, roasted & raw beets, dried currants, pumpkin seeds, carrots, pomegranate, sweet peppers with beet/basil/orange vinaigrette. While mine is the Fancy Flock -shredded napa/red cabbage, grated raw coconut, spicy carrots, sliced radish, pea tendrils, wheat berry, mango, cashew & mint leaves with cashew/lime/coconut/jalapeno dressing. The portions are large, the ingredients are fresh, and the bowls are beautiful.
On to the chicken. You can order the roast chicken, whole, ½ or ¼ a la carte, but those in the know opt for the Five Piece Buttermilk Fried Chicken Platter served with cheddar biscuit, slaw and hot sauce ($19). It’s a lot of delicious deep fried goodness. I’m happy to share a large salad, sandwich and a side or two - and there is plenty of food to eat. I can’t recommend the Fried Chicken Sammy ($10) enough. A deep-fried chicken breast is topped with avocado, slaw and hot sauce on a sesame milk bun. My wife loves the Pulled Rotisserie sandwich ($9) with crispy onions, romaine and a horseradish/beet/apple slaw, avocado and sesame milk bun. The sides are solid too. I recommend the Roasted Sweet Potatoes with chilli lime salt ($5) and the Yukon Gold Frites with herbs and aioli ($6). There’s also grilled rapini and broccoli or steamed green beans (but you’ve already had the healthy veggies in your salad, right?).
I also use the salad to justify my order of dessert. The Coconut Crust Key Lime Pie with fresh whipped cream ($7) is well worth the indulgence. It’s sweet and tart and the perfect end to the meal. I don’t know if Mr. Vitiello intends to expand Flock beyond his four current locations. If he does and he has the means to keep up the quality control, he’s hit upon the restaurant chain of the future. Flock - 97 Harbord Street. For more information go to eatflock.com