Northern Chicken co-owner/chef Matt Phillips stays cool even when things are hot inside
Here’s what an entrepreneurial restaurant owner does when disaster strikes: Turns it into an opportunity.
We’re walking past Edmonton’s heralded new Northern Chicken. There’s a sign on the door saying the fried-chicken joint is forced to close for the night because of a vent failure. No problem (for us), as we’ve just finished eating at the nearby 124th Street Thursday night market.
We press our noses against the glass just to see what the inside looks like. A few seconds later, a bearded guy pops out to apologize and explain the closure. That’s fine, we say, other than to note that we’re from Calgary and I’m a food blogger. As we’re waiting for the lights to change, out he pops again.
“I’ve got eight pieces of chicken I can serve you,” says co-owner and chef Matt Phillips. “There’s also a long list of beers and whiskies, if you want a drink. It’s a little hot because of the vent malfunction, but you’re welcome to sit inside.”
Moist, tender chicken with a delectably crisp skin
So, more out of curiosity than hunger, in we go and order three pieces of medium-heat chicken and an outstanding can of Bench Creek Brewing’s (Edson) Apex Predator, a seasonal double IPA. The chicken, fried at a lower than normal temperature to give the skin a lovely crunch, is outstanding.
Matts pours us a superb Bench Creek double IPA
You’d expect Matt to have disappeared by now, to fret over the mechanical breakdown. But no, he leans against the counter and chats with us for 15 minutes, explaining the restaurant’s philosophy.
Before opening Northern Chicken last November, Matt and co-owner Andrew Cowan had been chefs in numerous Edmonton restaurants, perfecting their fried-chicken recipe along the way. Where I really notice the chef’s touch is in the sides: roasted asparagus salad, whipped sweet potato, charred-onion potato salad, honey thyme cornbread and one of the best, freshest cole slaws I’ve tasted.
You won’t find imaginative sides like this in most fried-chicken joints
It’s upscale comfort food, in a relaxed setting. Even when the shit hits the fan.
10704 124 Street, Edmonton
Monday-Tuesday 11 am-10 pm, Thursday to Saturday 11 am-11 pm, Sunday 11 am-late. Closed Wednesday