The Budlong, the Nashville hot fried chicken shop that just opened in Lakeview this past Tuesday, May 17 in the former Bunny, the micro bakery space, managed to do brisk business. They sold out of biscuits early on, canceling the sale of “spudnuts” (their doughnuts) so that they could fry more chicken, and selling out of chicken completely by 7:00 p.m.
Owner Jared Leonard was ecstatic when asked about the first day of business. “It was great! Good energy – good crowd.” He added that they’ll be building “a walk-in to handle the amount of chicken we’re gonna go through.”
Leonard, who also owns Rub’s Backcountry Smokehouse in West Ridge, along with chef Jonathan Zaragoza (Fat Rice, Sepia, Birrieira Zaragoza), are working hard to get their Lincoln Square location of The Budlong up and running and just announced a third location in Edgewater that will also feature a brewery.
I stopped by the previous week to talk to the duo as they were fine tuning things and training staff (so did a number of other passersby – all who were curious got some chicken and sides to try out) and to try the chicken.
Zaragova laid out a two-piece dark with pickles and white bread, along with a side of red potato salad that made me a believer in the dish. The spice level I got was the “Classic,” an “intro to Nashville hot.” It was spicy but nothing too crazy. I’m a bit of a heat freak of late, so I’m going to work my way up from the medium next to eventually try the “X-Hot.”
The menu is very simple: small dark or white (a two-piece, conjoined together) or large (four pieces – but, sadly, only dark or white, not a mix of both), white bread, pickles (made in house) and choice of sides (KB’s biscuits, collard greens, elote, black eyed peas or the aforementioned potato salad).
The drinks are all 100% cane sugar (Mexican Coke, Cheerwine – amazing, btw, Hank’s Orange Cream, Bubble Up, Dad’s Original Root Beer) and they even have a vanilla bourbon wafer milkshake.
A proper review is forthcoming, that’s why this isn’t nestled under “Linger Fickin’ Good,” but I can say that I enjoyed the chicken and am looking to ratcheting up the heat level in the future.