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The bird is the word at Harbord Room chef's new rotisserie spot
Roast chicken is Harbord Room chef Cory Vitiello’s favourite food. “If there’s one thing I’ve obsessed over, it’s roast chicken,” he says. “It’s just healthy, it’s vibrant, it’s accessible. Roast chicken and salad – you can have a different version of it every day.”
He’s out to prove it with Flock, a brand-new rotisserie takeout spot that opened this week on Adelaide, at the western fringes of the Financial District. The short menu of takeout options – quartered, half or whole chickens, sandwiches, salads and sides – revolves around slow-roasted birds. That simple focus has allowed Vitiello to get restaurant roasting down to science.
“It’s so hard to do that in a restaurant where you have a really layered menu, because you can’t dedicate the time and the patience it needs to put out a perfectly roasted chicken, unless you can time it where your customer’s ordering it as soon as it’s out of the oven,” he says, “It’s really well suited for this environment where it’s all we’re doing. We keep it turning over all day long.”
A kelly-green Rotisol rotisserie, shipped in specially from Paris, keeps 40 to 50 birds at a time turning on individually-powered spits. (Sweet potatoes get a quick toss in chicken drippings before they’re finished at the bottom of the rotisserie to soak up even more fat.) They’re pulled off the spit after 70 minutes and served with sides, parked on one of three salads (which feature gorgeous add-ons like goji berries, just-boiled egg and roasted tomatoes) or stacked in a pulled-chicken sandwich with avocado and crispy onions.
Though this is Vitiello’s first foray into fast-casual dining, the no-frills format is in keeping with his own on-the-go eating habits.
“I like a lunch where I’m in and out in 20 minutes for $15 and I like healthy, vibrant, flavourful, made-from-scratch foods. Toronto is now at a time when the city’s starting to get really good lunch options for fast-casual. In the past, all these chains were rolling in. It’s a really exciting time to be cracking into this market.”