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The Classic chicken sandwich takes time-tested ingredients and combines them to perfection. 

The story

Chef Dan Kardos has long been known in Fairfield County for his chicken sandwich creations. He’s made them at various restaurants where he has worked and they are among the specialties at his acclaimed Oar & Oak restaurant in Stratford, which opened its doors in 2018, and is co-owned  by Peter Massey. In late 2020, Kardos and Massey gave the chicken sandwiches the chance to take flight as the center of the menu at their new takeout-only restaurant Oar & Oak Birdhouse, also in Stratford. This is the second new project the team has launched in 2020, the first being Oar & Oak Creamery, an ice cream food trailer launched in the spring. Kardos says the takeout-centric model of his new restaurant makes sense for these times. “It’s a step away from our more formal sit-down restaurants, but it’s still very much the things that people love about Oar & Oak.”

The visit

There are arcade games to play as you wait for your order to be completed, a nice touch for a takeout-only establishment. But who cares about video games when there are seven varieties of chicken sandwiches to choose from? The Classic keeps it simple and straightforward with bacon, spicy ranch sauce and pickles. This is one of the best chicken sandwiches I’ve had in the state and will fulfill all your chicken sandwich cravings. The ‘63 Sting Ray, Kardos’ current favorite, has hot honey, onion jam, bacon, is topped with aioli and is anchored by the same mouthwatering chicken. I prefer The Classic but enjoyed both. The menu also includes burgers, wings, some veggie-meat creations as well as sides like crispy potatoes, cornbread, mac ‘n cheese and delicious thin-cut fries, but the stars are the chicken sandwiches. Kardos says the perfect chicken sandwich is built on chicken that is “crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.” He adds that cutting the chicken right and lightly breading and then employing the proper frying technique is key. After tasting his creations, no arguments here. 

Know before you go

The restaurant offers pickup as well as delivery through most apps in the Stratford area. Curbside pickup is not advertised but during our visit, an employee was happy to carry the food to the door.

Oar & Oak Birdhouse

2377 Main St., Stratford

203-502-1101, oarandoakbirdhouse.com

Hours: Mon.–Sat. 11:30 a.m.–7:30 p.m. Closed Sun. 

Erik Ofgang is the co-author of Penguin Random House’s “The Good Vices” and author of “Buzzed” and “Gillette Castle.” He is also an adjunct professor at WCSU’s MFA Program and Quinnipiac University