A once-controversial D.C. chef, whose fried chicken has been featured several times on the Food Network, is bringing that famous recipe to Williamsburg at a fast-casual restaurant next month.
Bagock — as in the sound a chicken makes — from Gillian Clark is headed to 173 Montrose Ave., between Humboldt and Graham avenues. It’s a very focused affair centered on that fried chicken and doughnuts. Clark’s fried chicken won out on a 2011 episode of Beat Bobby Flay and also made a star appearance in 2010 on Guy Fieri’s wildly popular Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. It’ll be served here in counter-service form, alongside a slim breakfast menu.
The casual restaurant is a departure from Clark’s past experience running full-service kitchens in D.C., like the once-very-popular General Store, which served that fried chicken. During her time in D.C., she generated a bit of controversy over videos she posted to YouTube that seemingly made fun of customers, prompting the Washington Post to ask if Clark was “the chef people love to hate?” Clark now contends that those videos were used as educational tools for her staff.
Since then, Clark has done a lot of consulting work, which led her back to her hometown of New York City. She and her longtime business partner Robin Smith wanted a place to escape the anxieties of living in New York City, Clark says. So they created their logo, a neurotic chicken named Bagock.
“We’re hoping the charm of the place is this overwrought chicken, because so many of us can identify with that emotion,” she says. “I’m trying to generate a relaxed vibe to shut what can be anxiety-riddling about living in NYC out of your mind for a while. Make a mess of yourself and forget about your diet and eat the best fried chicken in the world. And while you’re at it, have a doughnut.”
Though the 20-seat, barn-decorated restaurant is informal, Clark is taking sourcing seriously, just as many other acclaimed chefs tend to do when they enter the fast-casual market. At Bagok, Clark is using bacon from a farmer she knows in Alabama who serenades his pigs, free-range chicken from a local farm, and grits from a small mill in Georgia. Eventually there will be beer and wine when a license comes through.
When Bagock opens on February 1, it will be open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.