The bird has landed!” was the gripping Instagram caption that led me to Honeybird on the night of their debut. A photo on their feed showed a generous platter of fried chicken adorned with decadent sides and eye-popping cocktails. I immediately called and secured a reservation. Long-awaited Honeybird Kitchen + Cocktails is the latest hatchling from Nick and Tracy Rabar, owners of Avenue N American Kitchen and its offshoot, The Pantry, both housed in the micro-mecca of restaurants that make up the commercial level of the Rumford Lofts just a short drive away from the new kitchen on Massasoit Avenue.
Honeybird certainly has added some spice to the small industrial section of East Providence. The restaurant inhabits a brick building with double garage doors, which just so happens to be the former site of a gas station owned by my great-grandfather. I felt a strong sense of nostalgia walking through the doors, which was only enhanced when I spotted the vintage gas pump the Rabars included to pay homage to the building’s roots. The garage doors allow plenty of natural light to spill across the dining room and reflect off the honeycomb tile backsplash of the bar.
Our waiter was quick to greet us and offer us water while we decided on drinks. Initially in the mood for a PBR, we pivoted in the moment and ordered cocktails instead: a Side Chick for me and a Bee Sting for my honey. The Side Chick’s ingredients sounded so luxurious I would have believed it were a perfume – orange honey blossom, coconut milk, and mint with a base of gin. Yum.
For appetizers, we ordered Hushpuppies and Pimento Cheese. The deep-fried cornmeal balls elicited a mouthful-of-food “oh my God” from the two of us, mostly due to the accompanying green onion butter. The Pimento Cheese was served with a spread of celery, red onion, and Saltine crackers; we asked for more to get every last tangy bite.
We kept it traditional with the main course – a 10-piece Bucket of Chicken came with Texas toast, pickles, and a choice of sides. For sauces, we went with the Honey Cholula marinade and Black Truffle Mayo (which I may or may not have finished off with a fork). The chicken was fried to perfection and falling off the bone. I was so satisfied at this point that I could hardly consider eating another bite but managed to dip into our sides of mashed potatoes with gravy and honey butter-covered cornbread.
The plethora of southern staples was the epitome of comfort food – we left with full hearts and full stomachs. I’d return often to Honeybird even if it weren’t right in the neighborhood, but the fact that it is makes it all the sweeter.
Honeybird • 230 Massasoit Avenue, East Providence • 401-919-5885
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