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Willie Mae's Scotch House

I finally got to eat here last Friday after having been very disappointed when they were not yet open during Jazzfest. I love good fried chicken, and it is very hard to find these days. Fiorellas used to be good, but the recent postings on this board made me avoid the place. So I was so psyched.
I went with one other friend, and the place was about three quarters full when we got there, no waiting (well, at least for a table). We both ordered fried chicken and butter beans and had brought quite an appetite.
Wel, it took an hour and 15 minutes to get our food. I understand that the chicken is cooked to order, I appreciate that. But I'm sorry, I KNOW how long it takes to fry chicken. And like I said, the place wasn't even full and most of the patrons already had food on their plate.
What are they doing: frying one piece at a time?

The wait staff said nothing about what was going on and offered no apology.

I went back to the bathroom and saw no one that looked like Willie Mae in the kitchen, everyone was much too young.
When the food finally arrived, the chicken was WAY too salty, and I like salt!
Of course we were famished and ate every single bite. Butter beans were excellent.
I was so disappointed in what I had hoped would be a truly New Orleans experience.
I guess next time I'll stick to Jacques Imos (he KNOWS how to fry chicken ala the late Austin Leslie), but they were closed for summer vacation.

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  1. Ms. Willie Mae is no longer in the kitchen (she's 93 or 94 now, I forget which). Her offspring are running the place now.

    1. Just fill everyone in Willie Mae had a stroke and is in Poor health, lets cut the family some slake

      1 Reply
      1. re: localfoodie

        no offense, but aging & death is a part of of every human family, not just the Maes. should we cut all the restaurants some slack?

        also no offense, but it was really slow when i was there a year ago, and have read similar here.

      2. That's sad to hear. I went there a few months ago and my FC was spot on.

        1. I haven't been to Willie Mays, but I can tell you about Coops and Fiorella's. I was at each in the past couple weeks to compare fried chicken. Coop's chicken was teeny-tiny. I think they accidently used one of the rabbits that they put in the jambalaya or a pigeon. The jambalaya on the side was excellent though. Fiorella's chicken was wonderful when I had it last week. I asked what was going on there and was told by a waiter that the place was sold about 6 months ago and they lost all their kitchen help because the former owner wasn't paying them and the 2 main guys moved to different cities. It tasted like they had their act together when I went. It was big and juicy and very flavorful + the mashed and gravy tasted home made. Went to Jaque-imo's about 2 months ago and would put them in second place out of the three. Jaque-imo's side dishes were pretty weak though.

          1. WMSH was never a bastion of quick lunch service even before the storm, and no one familiar with the place would expect otherwise, particularly if you order the fried chicken. Chances were then and are today that, if others in the place order chicken before you, the wait will be longer. I never order it if I am expecting to get out of there in an hour. When I was there last week (I have been five times in recent months), with a near full crowd in the dining room (which I was happy to see), I ordered the stewed veal knowing it was already prepared. The two young waitresses are very efficient and cordial, although I miss being served by Slim. The one time I ordered the fried chicken it was a little salty, but nonetheless delicious.

            As an aside, if you want great fried chicken, try Cajun Seafood on N. Claiborne. I picked up a piece last week, when buying beautiful and inepxensive boiled and raw shrimp, and it was out of this world. Its an odd place, with a combination of soul food, chineses food, as well as boiled and raw seafood, but its worth a stop for the adventuresome.

            1 Reply
            1. re: pilaf

              Is that the place that advertises Live and Boiled Seafood Chicken Daiquiris?

              1. re: nospice

                realizing that nospice's comment is old...but really...can't anyone say anything nice anymore? can you do better, nospice? what's the name of your fine dining establishment? let's all visit no spice's place and see how overrated and over priced it is!

                now, overspice...sit down and think of three nice things to say about that experience. i bet you can...come on...try...

                1. re: renewable1

                  as consumers of a commercial product, im not sure its our our duty to be nice to the purveyors on an anonymous foodie site.. this is a marketplace, and we vote with our dollars. review sites such as this one are an extension of that and a platform for publishing our experiences.

                  if folks feel a place is overrate (Mother's) or overpriced (Morton's), then id like to hear about it. being an informed customer is important if we are to vote w/ our dollars.

                  that being said i feel with something as subjective as tastes that one should try to experience it personally...unless the consensus is simply overwhelming.

              2. I would just like to say that I have not been to Willie Mae's but I plan to go real soon. I was just watching food tv and Willie Mae's was voted as having the BEST Fried Chicken in America by Bon Appetit Magazine, and also won the won a James Beard Award. These are very high honors for any restaurant. Ms. Willie Mae has retired and her family now runs the restaurant. Can't wait to get to N.O. to try Willie Mae's

                6 Replies
                1. re: luvnofood

                  There is a special running on Food Network about Bon Appetit's top restaurants in America, and they did a nice little piece on Willie May's and how Katrina affected operations. NO ONE is awarded a James Beard by accident--the place sounds and looks great, and I hope to go soon. I really appreciate this type of establishment sticking around for the sake of family and community and sharing the love of food with others.

                  1. re: kmnola

                    I've recently discovered this forum-and since we are" obsessively" planning our trip in October(5 days in our favorite city) I am all ears when I hear New Orleans--I caught the Food Network piece- What a wonderful few minutes with Willie Mae and her family!! It spoke to the rebuiding-her retirement and family continuing the traditions at Willie Mae's---so with tears in my eyes--I added a stop to our places not to miss,sometimes it's NOT all about the food! So--long wait or not, salty or seasoned to perfection, we can say we had the experience and with any luck at all, maybe Willie Mae will be there that day watching over her dream!!

                    1. re: cheerstonola

                      Does anyone know Willie Mae's hours of operation?

                      Much appreciated!

                      1. re: mikemill

                        I have never been there so do not "shoot the messenger" if this is not correct but I saw this on another website relative of reviews of this restaurant .. The hours of operation are Monday - Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. It took me about two hours to find that information, so hopefully this is helpful to anyone else looking it up

                      2. re: cheerstonola

                        Lovely post, cheerstonola. Planning a stop at Willie Mae's in October, also.

                  2. Our meal there last week was just fine. The bottom line is, if you want "white linen" dining and service,go somewhere fancy. I would have liked my meal a little quicker,too,but guess what, I felt blessed to be able to even GO to WMSH after the hurt it took.The pork chop was superb and we had friend chicken for DESERT also.
                    The "relativity" factor for a restaurant (atmosphere,history,price,staff) etc. has to always apply to a fabled joint like this,so lighten up cookie don't go scarin' people off!!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: caborojo

                      I also went to WMSH and experienced slow indifferent service of very average food. I didn't feel particularly blessed to have the opportunity to spend my money there. This is a restaurant folks not a shrine. There is no correlation between the history, the strength, the power and good cooking. Customer support comes with a consistently good product. The new management has to get respect the old fashioned way, they 
have to earn it. Good luck to a New Orleans icon. How get to work

                      1. re: State St.

                        Willie Mae's is not and never was an "icon." It's a neighborhood hole-in-the-wall that was discovered by foodies within the past few years, won a James Beard award, and then was championed as a cause by do-gooders in the wake of Katrina. I sincerely doubt that even 5% of New Orleanians knew about this place five years ago.

                    2. Speaking of Fiorella's, their fried chicken is not that good. There's too much seasoning. You're better off at Popeyes or Piccadilly.

                      1. I talked my husband into going over to Willie Mae's and he's a vegetarian. Always willing to please his carnivorous wife, we waited, waited and waited some more just for a menu. We displayed amazing patience that day at Willie Mae's, but after sitting for what seemed like an hour, we finally decided to leave after another couple came in, one half of the couple left to get cash after learning that they didn't take credit cards, returned to the restaurant and their order was taken before ours. Major disappointment for me since I really did want to give it a try. I'm happy to read the above review. Maybe I didn't miss anything after all. I would never go back. The service is simply put -- TERRIBLE!!!

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Gallimore

                          Y'all would do much better going to McHardy's Chicken - 5 pieces for $3.89 and you'll hardly wait 5 minutes. There is only one bench to sit on at McHardy's, its really a take out place, but the fried chicken is superb.

                          McHardy's is located at 1458 N. Broad St, New Orleans, open 11-11

                          1. re: mimadeli

                            mchardys is gross. just go to fiorellas. ok.

                            1. re: mythomane

                              I tried McHardy's about a month ago. It was very good. I will go back.

                              1. re: mythomane

                                yeah wasnt impressed with McHardys. old chicken laying around, not much flavor.

                                for fast food style like this i prefer McKenzie's Chicken In A Box.

                          2. +1 Jacque Imos -- while 20 bucks for fried chicken is tough to swallow, the chicken certainly isnt. probably the best ive had in town.

                            for cheap chickin McKenzie's Chicken In a Box gets my vote.

                            McKenzie's Chicken in a Box
                            3839 Frenchmen St, New Orleans, LA 70122

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: kibbles

                              My wife & I just got back from NOLA after visiting our son who attends Tulane. He had expressed great interest in visiting Willie Mae's, even after I told him there was a lot of dispute in this forum & others about the actual quality of the chicken there. Regardless, I told him we'd have to get there just about opening time for lunch on the early side, so that's what we did. And hey -- it was great. The fried chicken batter was very lovely, very light and extremely tasty. The service was solid enough. The sides -- especially the butter beans -- were excellent. We got four in and out for $60 or so -- this includes two large male college students -=- and we were all very satisfied. The place has a great vibe and was definitely worth visiting again. When we came out, a little after noon, the line was long, but that should be something well known to anyone who reads this list. Bring cash, get there as close to opening as possible, and you will improve your chances for a splendid meal.

                              1. re: fatheryod

                                Glad to hear that you enjoyed it. We too are going to visit our son at Tulane, for the Thanksgiving holidays (next week Tues.-Sat.). I love fried chicken and was interested in sandwiching Willie Mae's in (so to speak) somewhere in our eating schedule, which is awfully busy already (Commander's Palace, Domenica, Cochon, Mr. B's and Dante's Kitchen). I hope he really likes at least one of them. We're from Philly and he deeply misses an Italian hoagie from Sarcone's (as do I when I haven't had one for a few weeks).

                                1. re: larrybard

                                  Introduce your son to the fried chicken at Dunbar's.....located at the corner of Dominican & Pine, just off of Broadway. Within walking distance of campus, over on the Loyola Law campus.

                            2. Well i am sick and tired of people claiming Willie Mae's as the Best Fried Chicken in New Orleans. It is like Kayne West running up to center stage saying "willie Mae's is the best of all time" when all of New Orleans know damn well that it is BS. I will be the voice for New Orleans and speak for the people. Hell, i will say it ONE TIME and ONE TIME ONLY!!! POPEYES FAMOUS FRIED CHICKEN IS THE BEST OF ALLLLLL TIMEEEE. Being a Patron for my whole life, i KNOW that Willie Mae is a guppy compared to Popeyes. If Popeyes was not a chain, i bet everyone (food network, travel channel, and etc.) would be all over the famous chain to broadcast the infamous glory of the mouth watering chicken. Come to New Orleans and see who is Chicken King. You want to see a line no matter what franchise you step in, come on over to Popeye's and see what the hype is about.

                              1. Just an update that Willie Mae's is still open and doing some brisk business. Just had lunch there and the service was fast and friendly. The chicken was tasty though a big on the greasy side. The chicken fried pork chop was a little on the dry side. Compared to the chicken I had the night before at Jacquimo's, I would rate this number 2 since the batter on the Jacquimo's chicken is lighter and less greasy. Most likely, the oil temperature for the Willie Mae's chicken might not be hot enough. All in all, I recommend visiting this place if you are in town and love fried chicken. As for all the posts about Popeye's being the best, I do love me some Popeye's but the consistency of fast food chains leaves a lot to be desired.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: nizzerbean

                                  This was a neat little place back in the day, way pre great hurricane of 05. Haven't been since it got so trendy in recent years. (But good for them business wise)....

                                2. My family and I were very, very excited to have an opportunity to eat at WMSH! One of the cable networks stated this was the place for fried chicken in New Orleans! Upon our arrival we noticed a crowd of 20 or so waiting to go in. This was a good sign! We parked our car a block away out of view but it did not matter. We entered and gave our name for a table. This is where the bad experience begun. We were told our large party of seven would be seated at two different tables and the tables most likely would not be near each other. We took our chances and agreed or no chicken! We waited against the wall in the restaurant, and waited, and 1 hour 15 minutes later, we were seated! After 10 minutes our waiter arrived and then returned with drinks after 10 more minutes. We placed our order for specific cuts of chicken and were told they decide what pieces we get. The only choice we had was white or dark meat. During our wait to be served we noticed people walking up to strangers tables as they were leaving, and commenting about how amazing the chicken was. We were going to wait as long as needed. After another long while they brought our food. The sides were OK but we were here for the famous chicken! I took my first bite and I could not believe it! The chicken had a salty burnt grease and sort of a pork rind flavor, that was overly battered and had enough grease to power my diesel back to Texas! My friends and family agreed this was far from good chicken. Aside from the bad chicken, our waiter forgot our cornbread and at one point forgot us. The waiter was to busy so we had to ask another waiter for our bill. Once again after another long while we asked the waiter for our change. He said there was a gratuity for a party of seven and kept our change. At this point we complained that he did nothing more than bring most of our food forgetting part of the order and he disappeared until we asked to be billed. They returned our change and we left an appropriate tip. We left very disappointed. The joke in the car was that Popeye's Chicken or KFC has better service and by far better chicken than Willie Mae's Scotch House and will cost 4 time less! We felt bad for our waste of money and time in beautiful New Orleans.

                                  Willie Mae's Scotch House
                                  2401 Saint Ann St, New Orleans, LA 70119

                                  1. I went to Willie Mae's a couple weeks ago and thought I'd add my 2 cents. I went on a Wednesday morning, right after it opened at 11, having been forewarned that the wait can be brutal and the quality of the chicken can suffer when it's busy.

                                    Ordered the plate of chicken with a side of butter beans. I'd heard that they will take white or dark meat requests, but I didn't request my beloved dark meat. I assumed I'd get a breast, a wing, and a leg or thigh. I ended up getting a breast and 2 wings. Initially, I was disappointed, but seriously, that chicken was awesome. The crust was amazing- not super crunchy, but almost tempura like with a little spice to it. The white meat was surprisingly moist and beautifully cooked, and I enjoyed it quite a lot.

                                    The butter beans were OK- nicely cooked but surprisingly kind of bland. I didn't finish it because I filled up on the superior fried chicken.

                                    I really liked the food as well as the lemonade they make (really excellent!) I ended up getting a takeout order to bring to Tom at the office- I requested the dark meat and got a leg, a thigh, and a wing. Scored major points there- he loved it.

                                    I'd definitely go back under similar circumstances- early during a quiet weekday. I enjoyed that chicken a LOT.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: noradeirdre

                                      While I've experienced the long waits and less-than-stellar service that lots of posters here complain about, I do love the chicken, and the red beans, imo, are better than the butter beans.
                                      I'm surprised to hear that you were able to order some for take-out. On two separate occasions we were refused when we asked to order an extra plate to take home after we finished dining. (Once, even after a tablemate explained that he knew his homebound elderly mother would really love their chicken.) It didn't make much sense (why wouldn't they want to sell an extra plate of chicken to a table of diners?), but they cited a firm "no take-out" policy. They had no trouble, however, bringing foil so we could take home the chicken pieces we hadn't managed to eat. I just chalked it up to the weirdness that is often part of the Willie Mae's experience.
                                      Maybe they're softening their policy?

                                      1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                        I'll try the red beans next time. Also, I saw another diner order to go first (after he finished his meal), so I did the same. (I tend to take my cues from others when I'm in a new environment)

                                    2. I think Mr. Ed's in Metaire near Bucktown has the best fried chicken. It's not greasy, and the crust is light yet crispy. It's extremely flaovrful without excess spice. You can't go wrong with Mr. Ed's!