When you eat the Ay Ay Ron, the weirdly named biscuit sandwich at Figgy’s Takeout & Catering in Portland’s West End, you will feel like a toddler.
The huge biscuit will break down in your hands and your fingers will get covered in the mashed potatoes and gravy layered atop the crispy fried chicken breast. Make no mistake, it’s a messy sandwich.
But I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. It’s totally worth it.
Figgy’s hasn’t been open long, and it’s tucked away on a side street, but people have had no trouble following the scent of skillet-fried chicken wafting from Natalie Dibenedetto’s new takeout stand. (The last time I was there, there were about a dozen people waiting to pick up food.) It is an oasis of southern-style cooking where you can get a half bird (drumstick, breast, thigh) for $12 or a whole chicken for $24. Sides include picnic staples such as sesame cole slaw, buttermilk mashed potatoes, German potato salad and mac and cheese. Sides cost $3.50 a cup, $6 a pint or $10 a quart.
The fried chicken is not as crispy as I thought it would be, but the flavor is very good and the pieces are so incredibly juicy – juicy, not greasy – that you’ll need a napkin between bites. Biscuits accompany the birds, and this was my only complaint. I found the small biscuits in my order to be so dry they were almost inedible.
The larger biscuits that make up the sandwiches were much better. All of them are under $10. The chicken breast on the Ay Ay Ron ($9.50) – apparently named after a Key & Peele sketch on Comedy Central – is much crispier than the regular fried chicken, and it is topped with slaw as well as the mashed potatoes and gravy.
Other sandwiches are the Pork Tender – breaded pork, shredded iceberg lettuce , garlic mayo and sorghum molasses for $9 – and a vegetarian option, the Smoky, with smoked Gouda, roasted eggplant, sprouts, red onions and paprika mayo for $8.
If you’re just looking for a snack, Figgy’s offers Korean-style chicken wings by the dozen and half dozen.
Customers order at one window and pick up at another. During the wait – it’s never very long – there are a couple of picnic tables to sit at and chat with friends (if no one is eating there, of course).
Once you’ve downed all that fried chicken and a couple of carby sides, might as well destroy your diet completely and order dessert. I was thrilled to see they have a decent banana pudding (or as we call it back home, nanner puddin’), complete with Nilla wafers and whipped topping. The other dessert option is a homemade ice cream sandwich, with flavors changing daily.
What have I left out? Oh yes, there are a couple of salads on the menu, but if I were you I’d save the self denial for another day and another dinner. Don’t visit Figgy’s without trying the fried chicken.
722B Congress St. (corner of Congress and Walker), Portland | 207-805-0085 | www.facebook.com/figgystakeoutandcatering
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday
WAIT: 15 minutes when it’s busy; 5 minutes when it’s not
PARKING: On street, and a very small lot next to the take-out stand
WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE: Not applicable
OUTDOOR SEATING: Two picnic tables.