Just after Dizzy Birds Rotisserie opened in March at 65 Main St. in Biddeford, the Press Herald posted a story online that told the owners’ story and described what the restaurant had to offer.
Online commenters immediately started debating whether the price of one of the family-owned restaurant’s whole rotisserie chickens, $17.75, was worth it, when you can buy a bird at the grocery store or big box retailer for just a few bucks.
One of the owners of Dizzy Birds, Tom Peacock, often points out that his organic birds are minimally processed. The Canadian company that raises them, Giannone, air chills the chickens to prevent possible food-borne contamination, instead of dipping them in a chemical bath. (Giannone also carries the Certified Humane label, meaning the chickens are treated well.) There are no hormones or antibiotics in the meat.
All of this costs more, which translates into a higher price. But what the online commenters are missing is the effect on the taste and texture of the meat. I’ve now had a chance to visit Dizzy Birds, and I can tell you that their birds taste like real chicken. The seasoning on the skin (applied in-house) rubs off on your fingers, adding a nice zestiness, but the meat itself is flavorful down to the bone. Sorry Col. Sanders, but when it comes to “finger lickin’ good,” this is the real deal.
If price is an issue, Dizzy Birds sells plenty of sandwiches, and in fact all of them are priced right in line with sandwiches you’d find at any deli. The chicken sandwich with herbed aioli and New England cheddar is $9.50. The prime rib of beef sandwich costs $12.50. There’s also a leg of lamb sandwich and a grilled Tex-Mex tofu option for vegetarians.
I ordered one of the Spitfire Plates, which come with chicken, prime rib or lamb, two sides and either cornbread or a baguette. There’s a dark meat plate that comes with a thigh and a leg, and a white meat plate that features a chicken breast with a wing attached. I ordered the breast plate ($12.75), thinking it would be a good test. Would the meat be dry and flavorless, as so many chicken breasts are these days? As I’ve already hinted, I discovered the meat was both tender and delicious. (It could have been just a touch more moist, but I feel like that’s nit-picking.) I remember thinking as I ate it, “I wonder how many modern kids raised on grocery store rotisserie birds even know what a chicken is supposed to taste like?”
For my sides, I ordered Maine mashed potatoes and braised collards. Other options include roasted Brussels sprouts, kale and Brussels sprouts salad, macaroni and cheese, butternut squash, pork and beans, tortellini salad and potato salad. The mashed potatoes (skins included) were thick and creamy and clearly had plenty of butter whipped into them. They reminded me of the potatoes you’d make at home for Thanksgiving.
I was less impressed with the braised collards, which I immediately labeled “Northern collards.” Sure, collards made by Yankees are better for you because they spend less time on the stove, and that preserves nutritional value. But what good is a higher nutritional value if you don’t want to eat the greens because they are too chewy and vinegary? I judge all collards – unfairly, I’m sure – by my Southern mother’s and grandmother’s versions, which were flavored with ham hocks, onion and just a touch of vinegar (maybe even a pinch of sugar), and cooked for hours until they were ultra-tender. If you want something green to go with your chicken, I recommend the kale and brussels sprouts salad, which I got a small taste of; it was both tangy and sweet, mixed with a light dressing and dotted with craisins.
Let’s not forget the cornbread. A warning: It falls apart when you try to butter it, but once you taste it you won’t care. The cornbread was one of the best things on the plate, and I learned why from Barb Peacock – wife of Tom, matriarch of much of the staff and the restaurant’s pastry/dessert chef. (She uses her mother’s recipe to make the pecan pie.)
Peacock told me that she brushes every pan of cornbread with butter and brown sugar, adding a layer of yumminess on the top that makes it a slam dunk. (This technique, it turns out, was the result of a happy accident in the kitchen.) If I’d heard this story before I ate the cornbread, I would have expected it to be too sweet. But the brown sugar added just a touch of come-hither sweetness that left me wanting more. If they ever sell this cornbread by the pan, I’ll buy it.
If you’re trying to feed an entire family, try the full dinner that comes with a whole chicken (they’ll break it down for you if you ask), gravy, three sides and cornbread or baguette for $27.75.
Dizzy Birds calls its menu “elevated comfort food,” and it’s not kidding. Based on what I tried, it’s worth a few dollars more.
WHERE: 65 Main St., Biddeford
INFO: (207) 494-7089; dizzybirdsrotisserie.com
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday
WAIT: 5 minutes or less
PARKING: Small lot, as well as on-street parking
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes