When Leghorn Chicken finally opened last Thursday after a few years of speculation and previews, the restaurant had enough chicken for about 600 sandwiches. According to an interview with Eater Chicago, co-owner Chris Dexter hoped that would be enough to cover the lunch and dinner rush. Instead, Leghorn sold out of sandwiches in 90 minutes. What the hell is going on here?
This is the latest project by the Element Collective, the same folks who cure their own sausage at Old Town Social and mill their own flour at Nellcôte. So it makes sense that the restaurant would go the extra mile at Leghorn Chicken. That starts with the chicken itself. The chickens are sourced (according to website) from "local and sustainable farmers." Those chickens are also butchered daily, and divvied up for various uses. That explains why there are chicken tenders on the menu, and also why they only have a small amount to sell each day.
But make no mistake, this is primarily a fried chicken sandwich joint. You'd think that would make ordering easy, but as I'll try to explain, things get overwhelming very quickly. You start with the choice between breast or thigh. Next, you need to choose whether you want the meat Nashville Hot (which is actually both a specialty of Nashville and spicy) or Pickle Brined (the pickles on each sandwich are also made in house). From there, you need to settle on a soft housemade bun or a buttermilk biscuit. Still with me? Believe it or not, this just the beginning of the decision making process, because now you have to decide how many of the 12 different topping choices (the majority are 25¢ a piece, while three are 50¢). Oh, and there are also sides...
Is it worth all this effort? Because the restaurant just opened last week, it's too soon for a review, but there is no questioning the quality of the locally sourced chicken, which is juicy and full flavored. But if you want to see what the fuss is all about, check out our slideshow of a few of the dishes I tried yesterday.