75 Ninth Ave., at 15th St. 212-989-3332
Fried-chicken drumsticks, slushies, cupcakes, biscuits, five types of Chinese potstickers, and that’s it. Surely someone has brought together on one fast-casual takeout menu a wackier collection of foodstuffs than this, the brainchild of Roots drummer Questlove (drumsticks, get it?) and gastropreneur Stephen Starr. Or maybe not. You start to wonder. At which point you might even imagine the following preopening conversation: Starr: “Look, Quest—can I call you Quest?—I’ve been in this racket since I was in shortpants, and you can’t just offer people drumsticks and leave it at that.” Questlove: “Well, how about slushies, cupcakes, and dumplings like the ones you serve at Buddakan?” Starr: “Now, that’s what I call a fast-casual concept!” And yet, what’s not to like (except for the cupcakes, which are terrible, as all cupcakes are)? The biscuits are reasonably flaky, the watermelon-jalapeño slushies possess the perfect balance of hot to sweet that one looks for in a watermelon-jalapeño slushie, and the dumplings are terrific. And let’s not forget the drumsticks, each one built along the lines of a Julia Child balloon whisk and battered with a super-craggy crust that, when you unhinge your jaw pythonlike and bite into it, emits a high-decibel crackle. Ka-runch! If only they’d replace the cupcakes with cronuts, then they’d really have something.
What to Get: Two drumsticks, $7.50; truffled-egg dumplings, $7.