bite-sized

Tastes Like Chicken

Classic Southern fare by the sea

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There’s a sparkly new, two-story building in Atlantic Beach that’s nothing like that chicken farm you could smell for miles around in the little town where you grew up.

Coop 303 is a contemporary restaurant serving regional cuisine and innovative cocktails, craft drafts and bottles and a slew of wines. Head in for Sunday game day or a weeknight meal. It’s an ideal place to hang at the bar–upstairs or down–or grab a table with the fam.

I love a good snack. Coop 303 has a nifty selection, reasonably priced. Pluck favorites like daily pickle, truffle popcorn, boiled peanuts, crispy hominy or pork rinds. Choose one for $2, two for $3 or three for $4. Got it?

I went with the three P’s: popcorn, peanuts, pickles. The day we went, the pickled veggies were a rough chop of green tomatoes, cauliflower, carrots, corn and more. It called for a fork rather than fingers, but it was worth it.

Coop 303 is fast becoming famous for its buttermilk fried chicken, so the Chicken & Waffle ($12) was an ideal Sunday choice. Two thin, crisp chicken breasts were artfully arranged on a fresh, toasty bacon waffle with onion jam, datil pepper jelly, and maple crema surrounding the main attraction. The boneless chicken pieces, marinated in buttermilk, are battered with flavorfully spiced flour. If the sauce choices included aren’t enough, ask for the spicy honey concoction to drizzle on the whole shebang. Honestly, the chicken had enough flavor to rock a solo bite!

The Jarred Bird ($7.50) is super-fun–you gotta check it out. Just the presentation alone of the chicken liver pâté is adorable! It’s in a cute little hinged-lid jar, with a slightly bitter frisée salad (aka curly endive) dressed with thin strips of pickled peach, basil and mint. Coop 303’s pâté is made with brandy, shallots and thyme–light as a feather and rich and creamy as butter. Try a bite solo–it melts when it hits your mouth. The salad could be enjoyed separately, but it was yummy adding a few pieces of frisée to the pâté toast.

If you like a handheld option, there are burgers and sandwiches, like the Boss Hog ($12), one hell of a sandwich. Pork done three ways, served on a potato bun. Tear into a layer of shredded, moist barbecue pulled pork, thinly sliced grilled ham and two thick slices of peppered bacon, topped with collard greens and thin, fried onions. You get your choice of side–two words: tater tots! Good ones,
too, crispy on the outside with a sit-up-and-take-notice seasoning.

Choose a bacon bourbon sundae or choc ’n’ waffle for dessert and don’t forget the cocktails … cockadoodle-do, indeed. No Soul, Kill-Devil, Bless Your Heart. ’Nuff said.

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If you have a recommendation or know of a new place, shoot me an email at biteclub@folioweekly.com.

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