Last November, Dottie Walker was working as a cook at Captain Bly’s Tavern in Buckfield when then-part owner Jason Rowe sent a text to her cell phone from his seat at a football game: “I’m eating a great pizza, let’s open a pizza shop!”

The pair had tossed around the idea for some time, so the idea didn’t surprise her. Still, she admits to thinking he was crazy — until they really gave the idea some thought and agreed that maybe, just maybe, it might work.

When the location on Route 4 that was once the Chick-A-Dee restaurant became available, Walker and Rowe made their move. On April 2 they opened “Mockin’ Birds,” where the menu includes pizza and a whole lot more.

Walker acknowledged that the name Mockin’ Birds is both a nod to the Chick-A-Dee and an admission that their initial goal was to “mimic what has worked elsewhere, and then make it better. . . . We’ve tried to figure out what it is that people go out to get, and we put it all in one place.”

“A lot of thought went into everything we do,” adds Walker, who does most of the prep work and, along with several others, cooks during both the lunch and the dinner hours. “We make everything here,” she says, including “all of our own sauces.”

Regarding their pizza, business partner Rowe is, according to Walker, “a pizza fanatic, and I don’t know how many pizzas we made before we got it right. . . . We just kept going, and our pizza sauce was perfected, literally, a few hours before we opened.”

In addition to the pizza, with its homemade dough, sauce and secret blends of spices and cheese, the most popular dishes at Mockin’ Birds are the big and little racks of ribs, made with their own special BBQ sauce, and the baked haddock.

The haddock is a fresh fillet rolled in breadcrumbs – made with a mixture of rye, pumpernickel and white breads, mixed with parmesan cheese – and baked in butter. It’s served with a choice of sides, such as wild rice or potatoes and a pile of lightly steamed fresh vegetables.

Mockin’ Birds also serves up a variety of signature, quarter-inch, hand-cut French fries with names like “Mockin’ Jerk Fries” (seasoned and served with a mango chutney), “Mandarin Firecracker Fries” (seasoned with a blend of cayenne pepper and orange peel, and served with a hoisin ketchup) and “Parmesan Wedges” (sprinkled with parmesan, herbs and sea salt, and then drizzled with olive oil).

“Nobody else that I know of is doing the seasoned fries like ours,” says Walker, who owns up to having a particular weakness for the spicy “Smokey BBQ Fries,” drizzled with BBQ sauce and served with a ranch dressing for dipping.

Mockin’ Birds has an even more extensive menu when it comes to wings. From the “Mockin’ Hot Wings,” which come with a warning for the delicate palate, to the “Teriyaki Orange Wings” and “Steak House Wings,” which are dipped in a steak sauce, there’s something on the menu to please just about anybody.

The starter menu also includes items such as the bacon cream cheese portobello mushroom appetizer and bacon and bruschetta flatbread.

From the sandwich menu, the spaghetti sandwich is a surprising favorite at Mockin’ Birds. According to Walker, “It’s a gourmet sub roll brushed with garlic butter and toasted, laid with spaghetti and a homemade meat or plain marinara sauce, then topped with provolone and baked.”

For those who are trying to keep it on the healthy side, there’s a salad bar at Mockin’ Birds with a little bit of everything, including nuts, cranberries, kalamata olives, feta cheese, carrots and baby corn.

To finish things up, Kurtis Garland, Mockin’ Birds’ general manager, suggests the homemade “Dough Boy Bites.” These half-dollar-size balls of fried dough are sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar and served with maple syrup for dipping.

Very soon, says Garland, Mockin’ Birds will introduce the “Sweet and Salty Dough Boy,” dotted with butter, sprinkled with sea salt and drizzled with caramel.

“We’ve listened to our customers,” says Walker, “and the menu will evolve based on customer feedback.” For example, customers have requested quesadillas and nachos, and Mockin’ Birds will be doing both of these, but “with a little twist, to make them better . . . and to make them our own,” says Walker.

And when the warmer months roll around, Mockin’ Birds will begin serving soft ice cream both inside and outside at a takeout window. In addition to the ice cream, window service will also include anything on the menu, so families can eat lunch and dinner outside or fly home with some Mockin’ Birds favorites.

“At Mockin’ Birds we don’t do happy hours,” says Walker, “we do happy days, when we run specials all day.” Located just a couple minutes past Lake Auburn, “our goal,” adds Walker, “is to make this a happening place, where people bring their families.”

Chutney for Jamaican jerk fries

2 cups sugar

1 cup distilled white vinegar

6 cups mangoes, peeled and cut in 3/4-inch pieces

1/2 cup raisins

1/4 cup ginger, finely chopped

1 garlic clove minced

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes

Combine sugar and vinegar in a 6-quart pot. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add remaining ingredients and simmer uncovered until bubbly and slightly thickened.

Sprinkle french fries with prepared Jamaican jerk seasoning and serve with the chutney.

Chinese barbecue sauce for wings

3 cups hoisin sauce

3/4 cups honey

1 tablespoon ground ginger

3/4 tablespoon olive oil

3/4 tablespoon sesame seeds

Blend all of the ingredients together and then baste the wings as they are cooking.

Bacon cream cheese Portobello mushrooms

Serves 1. Double or quadruple the recipe to serve more people.

4 baby portobello caps

2 smoked bacon strips, cooked and diced

2 ounces softened cream cheese

1 ounce green peppers, diced

1 ounce red peppers, diced

1 ounce red onion, chopped fine

Clean mushrooms. Remove stems. Reserve stems and dice them.

Saute diced bacon, peppers, onions and mushroom stems. Cool mixture.

Mix those ingredients with cream cheese. Stuff mushrooms caps with mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling.


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