Inside Matt Horn’s highly anticipated Oakland Fried Chicken restaurant

Almost two years after Matt Horn of Horn Barbecue announced his plans to open a second restaurant inspired by the great chicken shacks of the American South, the famed West Oakland chef and pitmaster is about to unveil his birds.

cowbird Opens on January 14 at 1733 Peralta St., about half a mile from Horn Barbecue, featuring four generously sized fried chicken sandwiches, chicken and puffed buckwheat waffles, wings and fries, chef-driven sides and desserts. Huh. The casual, diner-style restaurant, located in the former Pretty Lady Diggs, will be open for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and until 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Much of that retro vibe has been preserved, from the 1940s U-shaped countertop to the glass case filled with Key lime and sweet potato pies. Some modern touches, such as pixelated murals depicting black farmers in the South, homage to Horn’s roots, adorn the walls.

Oakland pitmaster Matt Horn’s new restaurant, Cowbird, is located in the former digs of the West Oakland diner, Pretty Lady. Chef Horn’s homage to Southern comfort food, including Cowbird, Fried Chicken. (Anda Choo/Bay Area Newsgroup)

Speaking to a small group of food writers on Wednesday, Horn explained that the Peralta Street location holds special meaning to them. They hosted their opening pop-up, which featured their Cali on Central Texas-style brisket just a stone’s throw away.

“There is so much history here in the community with this place that we wanted to pay homage with a lot of design elements and create a really unique space to be able to showcase our love of food,” Horn said.

Like many other Cowbird employees, Chef Adam Lawrence lives in the neighborhood. He explained how important it was to have a thriving restaurant on the corner of 18th and Peralta. “I’ve spent almost my entire life in this neighborhood, so it’s really great for me to be able to feed people here,” Lawrence said.

Not surprisingly, the Hot Bird, a fried chicken sandwich topped with dried peppers and sweet pickles and served on a potato bun dusted with fermented peppers, is already emerging as a menu standout. Is. Other fried chicken sandwiches are the original Southern bird, served with pickles and a zingy “bird sauce”; Honey Bird, finished with a spicy mustard seed-honey sauce, and the Early Bird, which comes with Southern-style gravy and a fried egg. Sandwiches are $12 each.

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OAKLAND, CA – JANUARY 12: Oakland pitmaster Matt Horn of Horn Barbecue prepares a hot bird sandwich at his new restaurant Cobird on Wednesday, January 12, 2021 in Oakland, California. Cowbird is an homage to Southern comfort food, and Chef Horn in particular, Fried Chicken. (Anda Choo/Bay Area Newsgroup)

Cowbird offers five sides ($5 each), which include a smoky fried cabbage with country bacon and an impossibly fresh chicory slaw with pumpkin seeds and perfectly carved wheels of blood orange. Also check out the Steak Fries, Fried Gizzards and Gouda, Mac and Cheese made with Havarti and Provolone cheeses, and with dehydrated chicken skins.