In what’s almost literally a hole in the wall between Rose Street Patisserie and Upton 43 in Linden Hills is The Dirty Bird. It’s part of Chef Erick Harcey’s Upton 43 complex and shares a kitchen with that restaurant, but that’s where the comparison ends. Dirty Bird is a grab ’n’ go shop (no eating-in) with a limited, frequently changing, menu of chicken and other items. But the chicken — oh, the chicken. Grocery stores with rotating racks of dry, flavorless rotisserie chicken should be feeling a disturbance in the force at the arrival of Dirty Bird’s iteration.
The menu offers a choice of a half or whole chicken ($9 or $16), plus your choice of several sides ($4 small, $6 large). Let’s talk about that chicken. The cashier told us it was brined for 12 hours, which no doubt contributed to its juiciness, and the skin was rubbed, on top and underneath, in a robust spice mix. The meat was tender and fall-off-the-bone, the skin was crisp, and the flavor was leagues ahead of the many sad supermarket specimens out there.
For our sides, we went with mac ’n’ cheese and “Wild Rice-a-Roni.” The mac ’n’ cheese was the only disappointment in our meal. It was surprisingly bland and in need of something as basic as salt. Perhaps this is meant to feed the extremely picky toddler in your home? It might do the trick.
But the playful turn on the old boxed standby Rice-a-Roni (“The San Francisco treat!”) was a winner. Good-quality wild rice along with vermicelli and white rice and a sauce redolent of rosemary took it way out of the processed food category.
The Dirty Bird
Grab ’n’ Go in Linden Hills
4312 Upton Ave S, Minneapolis
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / No
ENTREE RANGE: $9-$16
NOISE LEVEL: Moderate
Daily 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
PARKING: Lot and street