In the age of Instagram, the defining feature of a bar is often determined not by reviews, tastes or intent, but by smart phone. While some spaces are designed with this express purpose in mind, there are certain objects that become inadvertent icons through their unwitting “Instagram-ability.” In this series, PUNCH shares the stories behind the bar world’s most viral landmarks.
When Dan Perretta, executive chef of The Aviary and The Aviary NYC, describes the crispy pork skin that has become a staple of the menu in both outposts, nothing about it sounds out of the ordinary. “In terms of ‘bar snacks’ it makes perfect sense,” says Perretta. “It’s crispy, fried, salty and acidic.”
It’s also an astounding three feet tall.
“The main focus of the initial concept was ‘How do we do something that will wow people and still taste great and satisfy that craving,’” explains Perretta. “Naturally, with the tables in Chicago not being very large, the idea was to use the air as the real estate space.’”
Even this explanation, by virtue of its sheer practicality, reads as decidedly unremarkable. But as with everything at The Aviary—whether it’s a Bloody Mary or a bar snack—the ordinary is reimagined with a theatricality that manages to be over-the-top without veering too far towards gimmickry. The giant crispy pork skin is a prime example of that balance between quotidian and otherworldliness that The Aviary strikes so well.
One Instagram user, in a perfectly nonchalant caption, inadvertently sums it up perfectly. “Just snackin on a giant piece of chicharron.” No big deal.