In the mood for fried chicken? Take flight for American import The Bird at Marina Bay Sands!
I’m definitely partial to Chicken and Waffles, but am sad to say it’s a dish that’s become so widespread in Singapore it’s almost lost a bit of soul. Fortunately The Bird Southern Table and Bar, recently opened at Marina Bay Sands, serves up American Southern-style food so authentic that by the time you leave you’ll be saying “Y’all” and humming “Sweet Home Alabama” to yourself.
Originating as the James Beard-nominated Yardbird Southern Table and Bar in Miami, the Bird is the chain’s first foray into Asia (there are plans to expand to Hong Kong, the Middle East, and possibly Australia).
The design aesthetic is “modern rustic with industrial touches”: tables, floors and ceilings are rough-hewn wood, lanterns hang from the ceiling, and water is served in Mason jars.
Starting out with the Classic Buttermilk Biscuits – served up warm, flaky, and perfectly moist with delectable honey butter and house-made jam – is an absolute must. You get four per serving and my husband and I basically devoured them – calories be damned.
Our other chosen starter was the Fried Green Tomato BLT (a combination of two of my husband’s very favorite foods in the whole world). This is a deconstructed version with a heavily breaded tomato, topped with house-smoked pork belly, pimento cheese, frisée, smokey tomato jam (the star of the dish), and lemon vinaigrette.
My husband gave it two thumbs up; I feel like the tomato itself maybe got a little lost with such a riot of flavors, but the smoky tomato jam is excellent, and the pork was perfectly cooked. It’s a nice upscale twist on a Southern classic, for sure.
Although The Bird has a nice array of salads – I’ve got my eye on the Kale served with sharp Vermont cheddar cheese, apples, and cornbread croutons for next time – we knew we would be stuffing our faces so held off. I do love that they have lots of greens to offset all the fried-ness, though of course you can always add in smoked chicken, crispy chicken or seared shrimp for some protein.
For mains we tried the Shrimp n’ Grits and Chicken ‘n’ Watermelon n’n Waffles served with honey hot sauce, chilled spiced watermelon, a Vermont sharp cheddar cheese waffle, and bourbon maple syrup.
First, the grits. If you’re unfamiliar with this Southern favorite, I’d suggest you get up to speed by watching the classic movie My Cousin Vinny. This version is super creamy, with moreish PBR chicken jus, aged ham and red onions in addition to lots of plump, tender shrimp.
But it’s the Chicken ‘n’ Waffles that’s the true showstopper here (at $45, it kinda needs to be – and it’s truly worth every penny). Every element of this dish is PERFECTION: the chicken is tender and oh-so-juicy, with the succulent, crispy skin (brined for 27 hours!) clinging to the glistening meat without falling off. The sweetness of the bourbon maple syrup (not too alcohol-y) perfectly complements the savoury, cheddar-enhanced waffles (which have just the right amount of golden crispness). And the chilled, spiced watermelon is just a lovely palate cleanser. I seriously went home and DREAMED about this dish, mamas. If you’re a fried chicken fan, it’s a must-try.
If you’re not up for the massiveness (it’s easy to split between two people), or waffles aren’t your thing, there are two other varieties of fried chicken, or you try the yummy Crispy Chicken Biscuits. Of course there are plenty of other mains to tempt you, too, from St. Louis Style Pork Ribs, to a Swine Burger (short rib, brisket, ground chuck AND smoked pork belly), Low Country Laksa (a unique specialty just at the Singapore location with yummy red snapper and rich coconut broth).
I’m honestly not sure how I managed to do it, but I somehow saved room for dessert, and am honestly glad that I did. The Flower Pot Mississippi Mud Pie – with chocolate cake, homemade marshmallow ice cream, and Oreo “dirt” – is both a delightful visual treat AND super tasty. If you’re not a chocolaholic, the baked-to-order peach cobbler is the house specialty; it’s another fancy take on a Southern classic with marzipan crumble, vanilla ice cream, a Florentine almond cookie bowl, and cinnamon twist.
Meanwhile, I haven’t even gotten to the extensive wine list (I love that they specially highlight ideal fried chicken wines!), the American craft beers, the creative cocktails tailor-made for our steamy climate, or the impressive range of Southern bourbons. The bar alone is a great place to head for a night out.
So next time you’re ready for a decadent dinner – or you’re looking for a relaxed but delicious way to treat some hungry kiddos – hightail it to The Bird, mamas!
The Bird Southern Table and Bar, B1-07 (Galleria Level), The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, 2 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018972, Tel: (+65) 6688 9959, www.marinabaysands.com/restaurants/american/the-bird-southern-table-and-bar.html