Revival is located on the northeast corner of 43rd and Nicolet. When you enter the restaurant you are surrounded by vintage 1950s colors…oranges, browns and golds, with wallpaper adorned with large marigolds. The bar resides along the rear wall with a view of the pass from the kitchen with six metal backless stools. The remainder of the dining area includes tables with metal chairs and a long banquette under the front window that occupy the remainder of the dining area. Total seating is in the 40s, it is comfortable and the sound level allows for conversation.
Tucked behind the bar are three taps for beer (an additional two were not connected on the night I visited), and the menu offers an additional 17 beers in bottles and cans, wines by the glass, sweet tea, sparkling water, root beer and Mexican coke. The wine list is limited with a handful of whites ($28-$55), a few more reds ($30-$65) and half of the wine list comprised of sparkling wines ($30-$210).
I was glad I arrived early on a Tuesday evening since the place was already half full at 5:30 and by 6:00 all the table were occupied and there was only one bar seat unoccupied. I chose a seat at the bar so I could watch the food and have a chat with the bartender.
The menu is diverse (on line version very accurate) with appetizers (priced from $5 to $15) ranging from a simple farm greens salad, to fried chicken livers, to pickled pig’s feet, to a pimento cheese and meat plate or choose two pieces of fried chicken. Entrees include a larger plate of fried chicken, (offered several spice levels from regular to poultrygeist covered in a sauce made from ghost peppers), pork chops, shrimp and grits, and pork shoulder or opt for a burger, or a pulled pork or grilled cheese sandwich
I ordered a 2-piece fried chicken plate for my appetizer and the Revival Burger with bacon for my second course with a side of hushpuppies. The server brought two sauces, a sweet potato sauce with habanero which was very spicy and a North Carolina vinegar sauce that was a little sweet and delivered much less heat than the habaner
The two courses were delivered simultaneously and I decided to first eat the fried chicken. There was a leg and a portion of the breast. This was one of the best fried chickens I have eaten in a long time. It had an overly crispy crust and was still very moist on the interior. I asked the bartender about the preparation and he told me the chicken is first seasoned, then marinated in buttermilk for eight hours before being slightly floured and fried. As I watched the pass during my meal I would guess that half of the orders were fried chicken, after eating it I completely understood
I next moved to the burger. It consisted of two thin patties on a buttered and griddled bun with two thick strips of bacon, melted American cheese, mayo and a few slices of B+B pickles. The first bite was a shock, it was incredibly salty, the meat was incredibly salty and the bacon added additional saltiness. The server approached to check in and I told him…he immediately removed the plate to have the kitchen prepare another, and we decided to skip the bacon on number 2. The second burger was a different, and much more positive experience. The meat reminded me of the burgers I made as a youth, a good beefy flavor with the grind still evident, the exterior was charred and crispy and the meat was still very juicy. The kitchen was generous, maybe too generous with the mayo and cheese, it was a little difficult to contain all of the creaminess in each bite and it overpowered the meat, I would have preferred a little less mayo and almost scraped some from the bun. The B+B pickles were delicious and these are always welcome on my burgers. The hushpuppies were a little bland and delivered a touch of sweetness
Overall I highly, highly recommend the fried chicken. The burger needs a little work to balance the saltiness of the bacon with the beefiness of the patty and the kitchen should better balance the amount of mayo. The bartender and the other staff were exceptionally customer friendly and that went a long way to convert what could have been a disappointing night to a positive experience.