Fried chicken sandwiches certainly had their moment this past summer, set into motion by the frenzy surrounding Fuku, and sustained throughout the season by Shake Shack, Mighty Quinn’s, and lord help us—Micky D’s. But of the countless “best of” lists that followed, not a one of them name-checked The Heyward in Williamsburg, whose own combination of bird plus bread proved an admirable contribution to the craze.
Both marinated with and slathered in a punchy piquillo pepper paste, it’s part ode to Nashville hot chicken—already well on its way to emerging as a full-blown trend come fall. Although, in accordance with the Heyward’s fairly eclectic South-of-the-Mason-Dixon-Line menu, the sandwich skips from state to state for influence, borrowing downy torpedos of po-boy baguettes from Louisiana, laying down in the Low Country for piquant ribbons of pickled purple cabbage slaw, and gamely appropriating that most sacred Southern condiment—mayo-thickened, faintly spicy, and ebulliently orange pimento cheese.
So no matter how elegantly you approach it, the confluence of poultry juice, pepper pulp, pimento sauce and vinegar is bound to wiggle its way right down your wrists, making it a sit-down, rather than shovel in your gullet sandwich, best accompanied by a stack of napkins and some sort of slow-sipping elixir, preferably a smoky Sazerac or a bourbon and blood orange-infused Porchside Smash. All in all, The Heyward’s constructed a persuasive, carefully considered alternative to the slew of seemingly identical fast food-style sandwiches that have taken the city by storm, and — provided we haven’t seen the last of the trend—a welcome reprieve from compressed thigh meat cutlets, shredded lettuce, and Martin’s potato buns.
258 Wythe Avenue, Williamsburg