Atomic Chicken fills void left by Faym-Us in Clawson

Molly Abraham
The Detroit News

The air on Main Street just north of 14 Mile in Clawson has been perfumed with the seductive aroma of sizzling chicken since 1959, when Faym-Us Chicken opened in the little red building with the chicken perched on top. When it closed a few months ago after a run of 56 years, it left the chicken-craving public at a loss. But not for long.

In comes Matt Baldridge, Greg Reyner and Scott Moloney, all three already heavily involved in the local restaurant scene, yet willing to take on another project.

And they’ve come up with a winner, with a chef driven menu that is focused completely on the popular bird and appropriate accompaniments. Since opening in late April, it has been very much a work in progress, with several changes to the original menu already in place after just a few weeks.

Atomic Chicken serves carry-out entrees on biodegradable plates and utensils, or customers have the option to eat on the back patio behind the restaurant.

Fresh bone-in chicken has been added to the boneless thighs and breasts, and side dishes now include bourbon baked beans and potato salad along with sweet vinegar slaw. Some exotic seasonings originally offered have been dropped for a completely American take on the bird.

Carry-out it may be, but it is not fast food. The kitchen standards are as high as if it were a full-service restaurant. Picnic tables on the patio behind the building offer a haven for those who want to eat their buttermilk fried chicken or chicken and waffles — all with biodegradable plates and utensils — immediately.

Baldridge is the chef who devised the admirably focused menu. He has been tweaking it to reflect the tastes of the customers who have let him know what they want. And you have to admire a chef and proprietor who listens.

Tiffany Predisik, from left, Dwayne Shearill, co-owner Matthew Baldridge and Marcus Grubbs stand outside of Atomic Chicken with a plate of buttermilk chicken and waffles, which is one of three chicken and waffle pairings on the menu.

While several items, including a couple of my favorites, notably the Japanese-style fried chicken, are now among the missing, one of the original dishes definitely made the cut. The mac and cheese, made with orecchiette pasta and a mix of gorgonzola and white cheddar, is a hit. The pasta — in the shape of little ears — forms pockets for the cheeses, and the blue cheese gives the dish an extra jolt of flavor.

The new side dishes replace the original choices of mashed sweet potatoes and black-eyed peas. Desserts include butterscotch pudding from Baldridge’s grandmother’s recipe, a chocolate cake made with Faygo rock n’ rye, and the classic Boston cooler made, of course, with Vernors.

The atomic sandwich is made of pulled chicken, housemade hot sauce, American cheese, bacon and vinegar slaw.

Baldridge and his partners — Reyner, chef and proprietor of Café Muse in Royal Oak, and Moloney, owner of Treat Dreams and Woodpile BBQ — have plans to open an Atomic Chicken in Detroit, in the former Popeyes site at 6500 Woodward on the northeast corner of Milwaukee. It is scheduled to open in early fall.

Atomic Chicken

331 N. Main, Clawson

Call: (248) 268-3282



Hours: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. weekdays and Sun., 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Fri.-Sat.

Prices: Chicken sandwiches $7, chicken and waffles $9.50-$10.50, chicken by the piece $6-37, sides $3.50-$6.50, desserts $3.

Credit cards: All major

Liquor: No

Parking: Attached lot.

Wheelchair access: No barriers

What the ratings mean

★ — routine ★★ — good

★★1/2 — very good

★★★ — excellent

★★★★ — outstanding