Redbird Evolving

Written by Mary Ann Fitzmorris May 06, 2024 23:24 in Dining Diary

When Willie Mae’s Scotch House started getting a lot of attention, Tom was the outlier voice, wondering what all the fuss was about. He noted that the batter didn’t stick to the chicken.

It wasn’t until recently that I learned that this type of batter is called “wet” and it is a distinctive process. Regardless, Tom is right and the batter separates from the chicken. We’re used to Popeyes, which is seasoned perfectly and the crunchy batter allows for some crust with each bite.

I only had Willie Mae’s once, and I agreed with Tom. The next time I had it was when we first sampled Redbitd, a newcomer to the fast-casual scene around town. 

Redbird is a new place from the brothers who brought us 3Bs in Lakeview and before that, Andy’s Bistro in Metairie. We went right away to Redbird, because we are big fans of the brothers.

The menu was pretty simple: fried chicken platters with two sides and a Parker roll. And sauces. A few of them, featuring their signature sauce, which seems to be the basic formula of everyone’s signature sauce.

And every place like this has a slew of sides. We liked the mac’n’cheese, the cole slaw, the beans, and the fries. We also liked the kid’s nuggets which were more of a basic fried chicken batter than the regular version. The chicken was the least interesting thing of all, but that doesn’t mean it was bad.

It has been a long time since we went to Redbird, but looking for a light meal and driving in the neighborhood today made us try it again. That, and running into Brandon Bennett last week where he told us they were opening a few more locations soon.

Our chat made me think there must be something I am missing, and I resolved to find out how they could be opening all these new locations.

What we discovered is that there’s a lot happening at Redbird. They’ve added new sides, and they are now serving fried seafood. There are daily specials each weekday, and today’s special was a BOGO, one of my favorite things in the world.

Tom got the catfish sandwich and I got the fried shrimp. The BOGO applied to just the sandwich, but we were going to try a few new side items. We got the fried okra, fried onion rings, and something they call smashed potatoes.

The sandwiches were just seafood, bread, and tartar sauce. They were not dressed, but they did come on my favorite bun. It is heavily seeded and just a regular bun. I love this bun, and I don't see it around often enough.

The tartar sauce was weird. Tartar sauce is mayo and chopped pickles, and if you are lucky, a dash of hot sauce. This was intensely herbal and filled with stuff. It was a distraction. Don’t mess with the classics. The seafood had a nice breading on it and was fried golden brown. The portion of catfish was adequate, but they were a little light on the shrimp.

It’s not often I see good ‘ol fried okra. This was a huge pile and they were just like popcorn. The onion rings were thick cut, which is not preferred in my opinion, but they were nicely battered and fried crispy golden brown,

The smashed potatoes are not like the ones seen everywhere. I expected roasted and smashed, or even deep-fried and smashed with skins on. These were mashed potatoes with a brisket gravy on them. I thought these were great after a few bites, but the more I ate them the less I liked them. There was an outsized black pepper component to these. I like black pepper as a light spice, but when it is heavy-handed, and in this case really heavy-handed, I find it inedible. I stopped eating after a few more bites.

I had signed off on Redbird after the last visit just because I am not a fan of the “wet” batter. But they are constantly tweaking the menu and offerings. The place is fun and the staff is great. It warrants re-visiting to see the evolution of what seems like a multi-location chain in the making.