Experience: Newport’s The Cluck House is Worth Chicken Out

La Costa On Thames’ new pop-up is all about poultry, and it’s clucking good


As soon as I came across the building on lower Thames with blue walls, hot pink door, and giant pink chicken decals that read “The Cluck House” in the windows, I knew this wasn’t the colonel’s fried chicken joint. Drawn to the eye-catching exterior, I felt like a child about to enter a Willy Wonka-esque chicken land.

“Chicken land” is an apt description of the pop-up at La Costa. Portraits of roosters lined the brick column by the bar, as if measuring me up to see if I had the guts to try the spiciest sauce The Cluck House has to offer: the level five sauce – which requires signing a waiver – called “Death,” is made from the spiciest peppers on Earth. Full disclosure: I chickened out on that one. Just beyond the L-shaped bar, I could see, hear, and smell my way into the kitchen. Hot oil sizzled as the chefs prepped tenders and wings, and the scents of barbeque and hot sauce wafted through the air, leading me by the nose straight to a seat at the bar to be close to whatever was cooking.

I perused the menu, overwhelmed by all the choices. Chicken is obviously the specialty here, but what is the best way to eat it? Sticky, sauce-coated wings? Crispy sandwiches piled high with toppings? Cold on a salad? I received some advice from Connor, one of the managers: “If you came hungry, do a combo with the wings or the tenders,” so I chose the Tender Combo: five tenders, and choice of sides; I went with curly fries and mac n’ cheese.

With Connor’s help, I also picked out a sauce flight of four flavors, which are categorized by number, one through five, to rank the spice level (five is the highest), along with an international section. I opted for three with house-secret recipes and one international. The platter came out piled high with food. The tenders were some of the best I’ve ever had – super crispy on the outside, moist, warm, and tender on the inside. The curly fries were addicting – just enough spice, and a joy to eat plain or dipped in the sauces. The mac n’ cheese was oh so creamy and gooey, with a slight kick of heat to it, a callback to the house specialty: their sauces.

The Cluck Sauce, a level one, earned “most dippable” from me; sweet and with a slight tang, it was good on the tenders, fries, and just plain on my fork. The level two Spicy BBQ wasn’t overwhelming in heat and would be delectable on wings. The Seahawk sauce was the hottest I tried, at level three, but even then, it was a smooth heat, packing a punch that goes down easily with a tingly warmth spreading throughout my body. It was my favorite of the spicy sauces, and if you aren’t afraid of a little heat, the hotter ones would likely prove to be more addicting. On the sweet end of things, the Caribbean Jerk was like eating a barbecue-coated gingersnap cookie, surprisingly sweet and savory at once.

If I had been bolder, I might have tried a couple of level four offerings, such as the ghost pepper Mother Clucker or Spicy Peach BBQ, or even the Death sauce – but those are goals to work up to next time.

Sitting at the bar, stuffed like a hen, Connor told me that the best times to visit are in the evenings for their special deals, and The Bachelor Mondays, where all four TVs are tuned into the reality romance drama instead of sports. But no matter what you fancy – sports, wings, and beer, or tenders, wine, and reality TV – The Cluck House is making its name as a really clucking good spot for chicken.


The Cluck House

Pop-up inside La Costa

515 Thames Street, Newport




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