It’s not every day a James Beard Award-winning chef helps create a fast-casual fried chicken restaurant. But leave it to the ever-inventive Ashley Christensen to pull off the unexpected.
As a highly regarded restaurateur and proprietor of AC Restaurants, a hospitality group that operates Poole’s Diner, Beasley’s Chicken + Honey, Death & Taxes, Poole’side Pies, and more, Christensen now adds BB’s Crispy Chicken to her portfolio.
BB’s serves elevated chicken sandwiches, wraps, salads, seasoned fries, and handspun milkshakes. The first location debuted in Raleigh, then Durham, and, most recently, at the emergent Parkside Town Commons in Cary.
“It’s really neat to focus on a singular concept that can be shared with many communities,” said Christensen, adding that the eatery was founded on her “love for the humble ingredient of chicken” and people’s “increased excitement for the crispy chicken sandwich.”
When it comes to BB’s primary menu offering, humanely harvested, antibiotic-free chicken is sourced from Bell & Evans, a family-run company founded in 1894. The poultry is air-chilled during processing to lock in natural juices, tenderize the meat, and reduce human handling.
Without question, what sets the cooked chicken apart most is its “shatteringly crispy” crust that holds its crunch long after guests receive their orders. It’s also as moist and tender as you’ll find anywhere.
According to Christensen, the bird is brined and then dipped in a buttermilk-tinged batter. “(It) then sees a two-part frying process at two different temperatures,” she explained. “Honing this technique was the most labor-intensive part of the development of the menu.”
Sandwiches are encapsulated by toasted locally made brioche buns with toppings like thick-cut dill pickles, red onions, fresh lettuce, and gold-standard Duke’s mayo.
Among the five signature sandwich options — from the simple BB’s Pick to the more involved BBQ Cheddar — we were most impressed with the Pimento Please topped with a heaping portion of scratch-made pimento cheese.
If you lean toward a spicier selection, go for the Tabasco-tinged Hot Honey, which captures the essence of sweet-and-savory virtuousness, or the five-alarm-hot Scorpion Red Fire.
Wraps such as the Chicken Caesar Salad and the Pimento Toasty are served in low-carb wheat tortillas.
Notable side items include sea salt-brined French fries, sweet potato waffle fries, and pickled cabbage slaw. For a multifaceted alternative, choose a BB’s Triple Play featuring both varieties of fries plus crispy cheese curds made with gluten-free panko breadcrumbs.
Whatever you do, don’t ignore the baker’s dozen house-made sauces that rise above what you’d expect to find in a quick-service joint.
Whether you try the honey mustard, mango sweet + sour, or the Texas smoky BBQ, you can’t go wrong. We strongly recommend the chipotle pepper-infused Southwestern ranch (among Christensen’s personal favorites) and the brown sugar-imbued honey mustard. For more intense heat, try the Green Jalapeno or White Hot Buffalo.
Prefer a salad? Consider a house or Caesar variety with your choice of five available dressings. If you want to add protein, top with crispy or grilled dunkers, which are essentially boneless chicken strips.
Pair your meal with fountain or glass-bottled soda like Coke or Cheerwine. Or take the caloric splurge and get a creamy chocolate, vanilla, or birthday cake milkshake.
Décor at BB’s is modern and approachable. Be sure to check out the vibrant wall murals crafted by Paint By S, a women-owned creative enterprise.
Friendly, helpful staffers make the dining experience pleasant for guests. Christensen said BB’s is committed to creating a welcoming and safe work environment that is always evolving and refining.
“We consider our diners and supporters to be part of our process and community,” she said. “We are listening and learning from them every day.”
BB’s is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. A spacious covered patio is available. In addition, a mobile rewards app is accessible for download.
BB’s Crispy Chicken
1147 Parkside Main St.
Parkside Town Commons, Cary
(984) 272-3500 | bbscrispychicken.com
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