From the ashes of Mabel's Chicken & Waffles, the short-lived casual Fried Chicken joint that closed down in Downtown L.A., it appears the chef and owner have rebranded the concept into serving Fried Chicken and Gourmet Donuts and Intelligentsia Coffee, now known as Birdies.
I was excited to try Mabel's last year, but had mixed experiences with it. The server today mentioned that the Fried Chicken recipe is tweaked a little, and they use a higher quality Free-Range Chicken.
Fried Chicken Breast & Wing:
I didn't have high hopes after my experiences with Mabel's, but wanted to try the new Chicken and recipe. One thing that worried me was that after ordering, the server confirmed the Fried Chicken would be ready in "5 minutes or less." Clearly they're not cooking it from scratch (which would probably take too long), but I was curious how crispy or fresh it would be.
The Chicken Breast arrived boneless, but surprisingly it was piping hot, and decently crispy. It also wasn't too salty like my encounter last year at their old business. It was juicy, and the Free-Range Chicken tasted fresh. Not bad.
The Chicken Wing, however, was a disappointment: It was room temperature, and the skin was flabby, not fried very well. It also wasn't as crisp as the Breast. It felt like they pre-made the wings much earlier in the day and it sat.
Fried Chicken Leg & Thigh:
The dark meat portion was juicy and fresh and also relatively hot (not as hot as the Chicken Breast).
They also offered Free Samples of every single Donut on the menu today, which was nice. After sampling all of them, we picked up a bunch for friends.
They make two types of Donuts (from scratch): Cake Donuts and Yeast-Raised Donuts. Disclaimer: I'm not a Donut Fiend like many of the FTC'ers here. I generally don't eat them that much. So I'll leave final evaluation to the experts.
Cinnamon Toast Streusel:
It was still very fresh and slightly warm. Their Cinnamon Toast Crumble on top was also made from scratch according to the server. It was the sweetest Donut on the menu (too much for me), but the Cinnamon Toast crunch was pretty nice.
Horchata Twist with Dulce De Leche:
That was pretty awesome. I would've bought a half dozen to give away to friends, but they were sold out (they were dicing up the last one as samples to everyone). It was less sweet than the Cinnamon Toast, and more fragrant and delicate.
The Blueberry Lemon was a Cake Donut, so it was more crumbly. But sadly, it was too dry (overcooked) and tasted like we were eating a dry cake with Blueberry Frosting on top.
Candied Maple Bacon:
Real chunks of Candied Maple Bacon on top of this fluffy Donut made it a win. We've seen the combination of Bacon with Sweet before at Nickel Diner and Huckleberry and other places, but Birdies was also pretty successful. Definitely had to get this one.
Triple Dark Chocolate:
This was the least sweet Donut on the menu, in a good way. Rich, Dark Chocolate, with a nice bitter, cacao edge throughout each bite. I think I would've liked this better if I didn't recently have Bulgarini Gelato's ridiculous Dark Chocolate & Orange Gelato, which was so pure and resonated "Quality Dark Chocolate" that this paled in comparison. But it was still pretty tasty for Dark Chocolate fans.
Blackberry & Powdered Sugar:
This was filled with a fresh Blackberry Jelly. It was soft, fruity and a pretty good Jelly-filled Donut.
Lemon Thyme Pistachio:
Probably one of the most beautiful Donuts on the menu, it also tasted great. I loved the fresh, spring-like feel of the Lemon and Thyme, and the nutty Pistachio notes really completed it. It wasn't as sweet as some of the other Donuts.
Strawberry White Chocolate:
My favorite of the Donuts, the Strawberry White Chocolate had a really fragrant fresh Strawberry flavor, and the White Chocolate went perfect with it.
One other note: The server said Birdies is trying to make a fresh batch of Donuts every 2 hours, which is really nice. So they make small batches and try to keep fresh / warm Donuts on rotation throughout the day.
Birdies Fried Chicken won't make me forget about Flossie's (RIP) any time soon, and with Howlin' Ray's opening soon, I'd rather go there. If they can sort out their frying issues, and deliver a more consistent, crispy, hot product, I wouldn't mind stopping in if I was in the area.
They will start serving their Fried Chicken 24 Hours A Day on Fridays and Saturdays, starting April 15, 2016.
314 West Olympic Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Tel: (213) 536-5720
Or, (213) 536-5714