Make an omelette or roast a chicken: If you want to test a chef’s mettle, ask them to do one of those things. Many chefs have built reputations on the latter — Thomas Keller, Julia Child, the Nashville-adjacent Jonathan Waxman — but few have done it as effectively or economically as Tom Bayless and Dauer Ellis, who are now serving from their new walk-up window BokBox in East Nashville.
Backed by years of fine-dining expertise (Bastion, Rolf and Daughters and The Catbird Seat, just to name a few), the duo has perfected the savory, smoky art of coal-roasted chicken. For $10 on weekdays, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., you can score half a bird, boxed up and ready to go, from the POP/Otaku Ramen walk-up window along Gallatin Avenue. That’s all the hits — breast, thigh, drumstick, wing — perfectly seasoned outside, and perfectly juicy in. The birds are cooked first with coal and smoke, then finished on charcoal so you get the salty, golden-brown, roasted-in-chicken-fat finish you want. Order online for pickup, via Postmates for delivery (I can verify it’s still delicious this way) or on the spot, enjoying your bird at the on-site picnic tables. For $1 extra, you can add sauce — the creamy, herbaceous Aji Verde is stellar — but honestly, you don’t need to. Covering up a chicken this good is kind of like putting Channing Tatum in a trenchcoat. Both are better au naturel.