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Aug 17, 2011 05:46 AM

Beasley's Chicken and Honey Opened in Raleigh?

Rumor mill was churning that this new outpost for Ashley Christensen's fantastic cooking was opening soon. Anyone have any details and whether they will take reservations or be more like Poole's?

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  1. $7.50 for a fried chicken quarter

    $6.75 for a chicken biscuit

    Wow...better be the best around for that kind of money.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Leadmine

      Just for price comparison, 1/4 fried chicken with 2 sides and bread is $11 at Mama Dips. Beasley's is nicer/fancier than Mama's, and based on Ashley Christensen's prior work, the food will be better (and use higher quality ingredients). The prices seem right to me.

    2. We had dinner there last night. No reservations, table service. We arrived about 10 minutes after they opened and were seated by a hostess (something that may not last once the big initial rush is over). It was completely packed by 7pm.

      Prices are high for fried chicken. As mentioned, it's $7.50 for a fried chicken quarter and $6.75 for a chicken biscuit. Those prices do not include any sides or biscuits. Sides are $3.25 each, I think, and an order of biscuits is a side.

      So basically if you want fried chicken, mac and cheese, and an order of biscuits, you've spent $14.

      We had fried chicken, an order of biscuits, mac and cheese, and potato salad. Everything was outstanding. The crust was really, really crunchy, and the honey didn't make it a bit soggy. The biscuits are on the firm/springy side (rather than the pillowy/crumbly side) and were very, very tasty. The mac and cheese is a pimento cheese/mac and cheese custard. I thought it was great. And the potato salad is very mustardy and bacony and was the best I've had recently.

      So in short, you have to be mentally prepared to pay a lot for fried chicken, but the quality of the food makes it worth it.

      I was pretty impressed with how efficiently the kitchen was running. They were getting the orders out fast in spite of the fact that they were completely swamped.

      I will add that the selection of local beers on tap was good and the cocktails on the cocktail menu looked really, really interesting.

      4 Replies
      1. re: rafeco

        I decided not to go last night, as it was opening night. So it's interesting that they handled it so well. I saw the menu in an article on - and I immediately thought how much I wanted to try each and every side dish - as well as a couple of the cocktails.

        Did y'all see the nice and interesting article in the Indy? These three new venues will serve no bottled or canned beer - it will all be on tap. No recycling - and no lost time re-stocking or refrigerating individual beers.

        1. re: cackalackie

          I read the article in the Indy the minute I picked' up the paper. Great stuff!

          We're heading to Beasley's tonight. We'll get there early to hopefully beat the rush.

          1. re: Tom from Raleigh

            We had a really interesting experience at Beasley's. The only main available was the quarter chicken. I think that's a smart move on AC's part as i had the best service i've ever had in a newly opened restaurant. Our server knew the menu pretty well. We were in and out in less than 45 minutes. Service is rarely this good, especially not in a new restaurant.

            The chicken was really tasty. The skin was crisp and had lots of flavor. The meat was moist and flavorful. This is a new take on chicken to me and the innovation is commendable.

            The potato salad was my favorite side, though the mac and cheese was a close second. The biscuits were triangular. The were denser than those from Bojangles and more sweet.

            On to desserts. We had the chess pie, the cheesecake and the apple pie. The apple pie was dense with apple slices and had a flavorful crust. The chess pie was ok, but not mind blowing. The cheesecake was served with fruit on the side. It was an excellent dish. What set it apart from the other dishes was its tart, lactic flavor. This flavor was intense and provided a necessary foil to the many sweet flavors of the meal.

            They have a solid selection of beer and an excellent cocktail menu. My wife had their take on a lime rickey, i think. It was made with rum and used chocolate chile bitters. I thought it was a sublime mix of well-thought out flavors.

            We'll definately be back. It was well worth the drive from Chapel Hill.

            1. re: Tom from Raleigh

              Have you eaten at Dame's Chicken & Waffles? Theychicken is just awesome with some sort of tasty herb coating and a really crispy exterior. Their waffles with the various toppings are so delicious. For a couple of bucks more than what AC is charging for just the chicken you get chicken, waffles with topping, and a side (best collard greens I've had in the Triangle-- braised rather than boiled to death)! Add the fact that Durham is closer to Chapel Hill than Raleigh...let's just say I'm in no hurry to try Beasley's.

              It was also disappointing that she got waxed by Bobby Flay on Iron Chef.

      2. I agree with Rafeco's review--excellent food but somewhat steep prices. I went the other day for lunch with intention of getting the chicken biscuit which I thought would let me try two main offerings in one order. Although that's quiet a bit more expensive than the Bo or Biscuitville I knew it would be worth it. Apparently others felt the same as I was at the end of normal lunch hours and they were out of the Chicken Biscuit. They had the quarter chicken and they had biscuits for a side so I could combine those and spend $10.75 and get probably more than I really wanted to eat for a late lunch. I'm guessing the Chicken Biscuit is some sort of breast filet so they couldn't easily have combined the remaining components? Am also guessing the fact they ran out may be a bit about ironing out early kinks and predicting demand as I think it's going to be critical to make sure they have all options available given the limited menu. In any event, I decided to just get the quarter chicken at $7.50 and no sides. Got a pint of tea for $1 so total tab was $8.50.

        The chicken was absolutely great--best fried chicken I've had in awhile. Maybe best I've ever had and the honey is a nice change / enhancement without making the dish completely new or too far away from the classic. Stuff was definitely finger licking good which I think is a testament to both the quality of the food as well as the fact that I was intent on getting my money's worth. I found out later that apparently there are no free refills on the tea (which was made great with the side of sugar water or simple syrup you can add yourself). You can order different sizes of tea at different prices but refills apparently count as a new order. This makes sense in the broader scheme of things but it's hard for this southerner to grasp. So, I left thinking I'd gotten some really great fried chicken and at that price I'd gotten really about as much food as I'd get elsewhere for lunch in a sandwich for around the same price. Glad I didn't get a tea refill though. Also, still wish I was able to get the Chicken Biscuit and will just have to go back to try that. Overall I found the food was great and the value not bad.

        Still I have some concerns about long-term success for the establishment. Here are my concerns: (1) I don't really "love" fried chicken the way some people do and I'm not sure how many people really do love it the way we southerners are supposed to and may have at some earlier time, (2) I unfortunately cannot eat that stuff diet-wise very often even if I did absolutely love it, (3) when I do eat it, I prefer the filet vareity rather than digging stuff off the bone and am willing to sacrifice taste and quality for convenience, particularly if I'm eating out in public and not at a tailgate, and (4) I will always be inclined (albeit unfairly) to compare the product / price here to a chicken filet biscuit and sweet tea at Bojangles. (I take the point prices are in line with Mama Dips but in my experience the Bo is typically better than Mama Dips so not part of my usual mindset.). All of that just has me wondering how often I will go back there unless there are some daily or rotating specials in addition to the chicken. I can definitely see going once and awhile and taking family and friends to show off some of our unique and excellent culinary attractions but I'm just afraid I'm not likely to hit them up for a typical lunch or dinner outing. Hopefully there are enough others out there that feel differently and will provide the needed long-term support. Maybe also there will be some expanded offerings in the future like a daily breast and vegetable combo plate or blue plate special or an ability to put together a plate of 3 or 4 vegetables and biscuit that aren't as expensive as the $13 or so it cost to do 4 sides now. I know friends of mine that don't eat fried chicken and will probably find it hard to assemble a meal from the current sides. Maybe we are just not part of the long-term target audience though.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Guilty Gourmand

          Thanks for the excellent and thoughtful review. Reading about this place (without yet going) my thoughts were similar to yours regarding price and variety. I suspect if it was anyone other than Ashley Christensen running it folks would be less accepting of the price...I have no issues with her, but have noticed that longtime Raleigh folks are just crazy about her.

          The no refills for ice tea is going to irritate a lot of people. It just smacks of pennywise, pound foolish in the face of tradition. That policy will make the high prices harder to swallow.

          I too know many who don't eat chicken. The price for 4 sides is steep. I'm not saying the quality isn't worth it, but $13 for a casual lunch before bev, tax and tip - that's going to eliminate a great number of people from working Beasley's into their rotation.

          1. re: Guilty Gourmand

            Sorry, but no refills on ice tea is a deal breaker for me.

            1. re: ucctgg

              A pint of tea (no ice) costs $1 and a quart of iced tea (no ice) costs $2. They'll refill your ice as many times as you like.

              I thought I drank a lot of tea and I couldn't get through half of the quart jar with my meal.

              At most restaurants a glass of tea (with refills) costs $2, so in the end the price is about the same for the iced tea at Beasley's as it is anywhere else -- cheaper if you can get by on a pint. I will add that the tea is very very good.

              1. re: rafeco

                I'll also add that they hit you with a glass of filtered ice water just as soon as you arrive, no charge. Get the big tea if you think you want that much, the little one if you don't. Either way you'll have enough to drink. For me, it's just not been worth worrying about.

          2. Probably a completely stupid question, so forgive me please. I didn't grow up in the south (I grew up in DC, which my Canadian husband thinks is the south, but I bet most southerners don't), so I'm not familiar with the idea of mixing fried chicken with honey. Is this a tradition?

            10 Replies
            1. re: LulusMom

              I have eaten fried chicken at many, many places, and have never seen it before prior to the experiments with it at Poole's and now Beasley's. It's surprisingly good, but I don't think it's superior to fried chicken without honey.

              1. re: rafeco

                Thanks for the information. I'm really not liking the idea of the sweetness with fried chicken myself, but I'd certainly be game to try a bite. So this isn't some big southern culinary tradition that I missed out on? That relieves me a bit, I have to say.

                1. re: LulusMom

                  I've lived my entire life in the South. I had always heard of this, but rarely seen it. Same with chicken and waffles. My ex-in-laws hailed from Tx. and Eastern NC - neither of them had been aware of chicken and honey growing up. Same with my Mississippi mother, who learned to cook at the knee of a very accomplished Southern cook/housekeeper. (Which was fortunate since my grandmother was a limited cook!) I lived in Tn. for some time and never encountered it there either.

                  I have tried it and the flavors work better than you might imagine. I seldom indulge in fried chicken and when I do I relish the purity of the succulent chicken paired with perfectly seasoned crunchy skin. Nothing more needed imho!

                  1. re: meatn3

                    I hear you on that (nothing else needed)! Thanks for the cultural history lesson.

                  2. re: LulusMom

                    I'm a lifelong Southerner and never heard of honey with chicken or chicken and waffles growing up. My first taste of chicken and waffles was at Roscoe's in Southern California a few years ago. I was plesantly surprised as to how good it was. I don't want my fried chicken that way everytime but it is really good. I'm glad Dame's is nearby when I have that craving.

                    Is honey mandatory at Beasley's? I'm not offended by the prices as I'm sure they are buying really good chicken and the staff I'm guessing gets paid better than folks that work at Bo/KFC/etc.but the no refils on iced tea is a little offputting.

                2. re: LulusMom

                  Hadn't heard of Chicken and HOney (except for like chicken tenders and dipping them in honey), but had heard of Chicken and Waffles plenty just that there were never places around here that offered it. For me it was like trying to find a Monte Christo sandwich until Dame's showed up with Chicken and Waffles.

                  1. re: LulusMom

                    This thread made me remember this soul food place in Winston named Chicken and Honey. It's been closed for at least 7 or 8 years and until recently they had a menu still posted; can't remember if chicken and honey was on the menu or where the name came from.

                    The building still sits there waiting for the next chicken entrepreneur.

                    1. re: quazi

                      Interesting! If I remember correctly, Christensen is from Kernersville so it's likely that she had visited this place. Possibly was an inspiration?

                      1. re: Leadmine

                        I thought I read a short article recently where she stated that honey over fried chicken was something her family always did? I think I read it on New Raleigh (blog.)

                    2. re: LulusMom

                      I don't know how commonly chicken is served with honey, but I can tell you it's delicious.

                      In fact, I've been doing it for years. Lee's Famous Recipe always served a package of honey with your biscuit. I'd get the chicken plate, pull the fried top off of my thigh piece and put it in the biscuit with the honey. Best thing ever.

                    3. In fairness on the iced tea, I'll point out that I got a pint of good sweet tea for $1 and regulated my intake (also got a glass of water) so I didn't end up needing a refill. That's not a bad price for a spot of tea I think--not sure where else you can get any tea for just $1. Also, knowing that I wouldn't get another jar allowed me to indulge the sweetener without as much guilt. If I understand the menu, I think you can get a quart jar for $2 so that's also not a bad price for that amount of tea. Just tough to not have automatic refills.

                      I'd never heard of honey and fried chicken either but I very much enjoyed it. It was just enough of a twist on the usual to be different but still classic.