Fried chicken at T-Rex: meh.
Finally got around to trying the fried chicken dinner at T-Rex tonight based on some positive reviews on this board (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/484882). On the whole, I wasn't impressed. The positives: for $18, this was a HUGE portion (breast, drumstick, thigh), and the sides that it came with (especially the mashed potatoes) were pretty good. That's about it.
The chicken itself was competently fried--crisp skin, moist and tender meat--but was almost utterly flavorless! Maybe they were having an off night, but I could barely detect even a hint salt or pepper--neither on the skin, nor for the meat itself. The texture of the breading was unappealingly reminiscent of Shake and Bake...but with no flavor whatsoever.
Now, I'm normally a fan of T-Rex, and I really wanted to like this chicken. Like I said, maybe it was just an off night, especially since others have had positive experiences...but it's going to be hard to convince me to ever order this again. I'll be sticking with the BBQ.
My current East Bay fried chicken rankings (bone-in only):
1) Pican- by a wide margin
2) Brown Sugar Kitchen- excessive grease is its downfall
3) Merritt Bakery- fairly reliable if unspectacular
4) Luka's- OK
5) T-Rex- meh
While we're on the FC tip, does anyone know of a place in the Bay Area with chicken like Gus's in Tennessee? Spicy, very thin crispy crust that breaks like glass, not greasy. Only downside is that the chicken itself is what you'd expect from a factory farmed, mass market bird. Perfect in all other respects.
Finally got around to trying the fried chicken at Nellie's. I thought it was pretty good, on par with the chicken at Merritt Bakery. Juicier, for sure, but not as well seasoned. The sides at Merritt Bakery are almost inedible, though, so that makes Nellie's a more desirable option--the corn and okra side (only available Fridays) was especially tasty. Mac and cheese just OK. Friendly folks, even though I was just getting takeout.
At $15.29 (for half a chicken--four pieces--with sides), this is not exactly a bargain, though it's enough food to split between two people. I wish they offered a 2-piece fried chicken dinner for around $10 instead of $13.29. The Pican fried chicken is a few dollars more but superior in every respect, though obviously you're not going to do something as upscale as Pican all the time.
New E.B. fried chicken rankings:
2) Brown Sugar Kitchen
4) Merritt Bakery
2295 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612