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    Here in the South, we don’t need to be told that fried chicken is good. A regional staple and a bluegrass trademark, fried chicken is an integral part of the comfort food experience, the Sunday dinner table and even our own fast food empire. Now we have a restaurant dedicated to the good, homestyle essential.

    Gospel Bird opens this week in New Albany (207 E. Main Street), at the heart of an up-and-coming food scene that’s played host to joints like Toast, Dragon King’s Daughter and the new Brooklyn and The Butcher. Formerly housing Don Vito’s Italian Bistro, the Gospel Bird space features a main dining room with another room to house the bar area. A patio will be open out back when the weather warms up.


    “Three years ago, I think I just knew that this downtown was going to be [the place]. Ryan came over here and did Feast, Ian at The Exchange - with how saturated Louisville is, restaurants opening all the time, I wanted to come here.  There’s a lot - a lot of concepts, a lot of food - that hasn’t taken off over here yet.”

    According to owner Eric Morris (formerly of chef and co-owner of Loop 22, as well as chef at Epic Sammich Co., Ten Tables), the concept was originally going to be all-around Southern food, but people kept asking about the fried chicken and, so, the concept changed. The restaurant started as a joint venture between Morris and Dustin Staggers of Staggers Group, but after some discussion, became a solo project. “I felt most comfortable this time around doing it on my own,” says Morris. “Of all the restaurants that I’ve owned, I’ve never been a sole owner. I’m really happy to finally give a shot - to do it myself in the way that I think might be a cool restaurant.”

    The kitchen is headed up by Executive Chef Ethan Ray (formerly of Roux, Hammerheads, Ten Tables, Oak Room, Proof on Main) and the menu is pretty straightforward — fried chicken plates, rotisserie chicken, a number of sides, loaded biscuits and starters. The menu also includes some non-poultry entrees: shrimp and grits, rainbow trout, brisket and country fried falafel for vegetarian diners. On Sundays, Gospel Bird will be offering all-you-can-eat fried chicken for most of the day, that - paired with a pitcher of mimosas — sounds like the perfect brunch.

    The Willie Biscuit ($6): fried oysters, bacon, hot sauce, green goddess dressing, lettuce.

    The beverage program is headed up by Matthew Farley (formerly of Roux, Ten Tables, America. The Diner, Joy Luck) and features a list of modestly-priced cocktails. In addition, the brunch menu will include five champagne cocktails, Bloody Marys (with add-ons like chicken liver and fried green tomatoes), as well as pitchers of mimosas.

    Joe vs The Volcano ($8): house salsa fuego, mint-pineapple shrub, Sombra mezcal, Biutiful Cava Brut, sweet lime twist.

    For those that miss the old Loop 22, Gospel Bird is something of a callback. A lot of the menu items at Gospel Bird were found on the Loop 22 menu, including the chicken, the collard greens and the cauliflower grits. “Loop was my baby. I was sad to see it go,” says Morris. “For that building and that location, I just don’t think it worked. It needed to be something like this — for it, conceptually.”

    Already, the restaurant is making its mark in the neighborhood. During the soft open, neighborhood diners came in, some looking for a drink, others on the way to watch the game — all lured by the sleek bar and the sizzling sounds of the deep fryer.

    Gospel Bird officially opens its door this Tuesday, February 23. Follow them on Facebook here!


    What to order:

    Start with one of the biscuits. I'd recommend the Willie ($6) — tender fried oysters on a fluffy biscuit, sprinkled with bacon. Green goddess dressing and lettuce add a refreshing touch to the fried oysters.
    The southern fried chicken plate ($14) comes with a fluffy biscuit and a side. You basically get half a chicken that pulls apart on your plate. The cauliflower grits are delicious, but the baked beans get high praise as well. 
    For cocktails, Joe vs. The Volcano ($8) is a must. Its base is fruity (a mint-pineapple shrub), but has some heat layer over, giving it a slow burn and just enough smoke. I recommend drinking as you eat, as it adds a dimension to the fried chicken experience.



    Cover Image: Southern fried chicken with cauliflower grits.

    Michelle Eigenheer's picture

    About Michelle Eigenheer

    A Louisville transplant beginning to appreciate all the city's small things.

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