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Fried chicken rant

Okay, I'm cranky. What is it about New Yorkers that makes them (and I am one, but I except myself from this category) fawn all over all sorts of mediocre fried chicken? I was raised by a native North Carolinian mother who makes the best fried chicken ever. (Washed and well-dried chicken, a simple shake in a bag of flour and salt, frying in a minimal amount of oil--sauteeing, really.) And yes, I can make it too.

But I get so excited when I read about new fried chicken places in NYC, and inevitably they are incredibly disappointing. Latest case: Bobwhite Lunch and Supper Counter. I wanted to like this place, but what a letdown. The chicken was moist, yes, but that's because the moisture was trapped inside by the soggy coating. Overbreaded, soggy, not crispy, not much discernible flavor. Blah. Yech. I got the chicken supper plate, which came with a biscuit that I have not much to say about. It wasn't inedible. But it wasn't good. The salad, meanwhile, was pretty awful. Salad out of a bag, with an overly sweet dressing on the side. I didn't try any of the other sides, so I can't comment on those. My main concern is the chicken.

Yes I've tried the Redhead's fried chicken, a couple of times, and though it's been awhile, it wasn't memorable. I can't remember if it was better than, or about the same as, Bobwhite's. But it definitely wasn't great. (I took my mom there once when she was visiting, promising her the best fried chicken in NYC. Upon eating it, she looked at me with some bewilderment and a slightly accusing expression as if to ask why I had promised so much and delivered so little.)

I haven't tried Carmellini's fried chicken at Locanda Verde or the Dutch--and I do love Locanda Verde--but I'm so disheartened by my chicken experiences here that I can't bring myself to do so.

This is mostly a rant. But if anyone has any thoughts about the overpraising of fried chicken in New York, I'd love to hear them.

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  1. I like Georgia's ( Orchard St.) fried chicken and Maharlika has good fried chicken. Next time i'm in North Carolina i'll have to try the fried chicken, I usually just get BBQ in NC. The fried chicken I had in tennessee was good.

    1. I stick w Popeye's or KFC-Consistent!

      2 Replies
      1. re: UES Mayor

        I don't think I've ever tasted KFC--but I agree that Popeyes is much better than most of the fried chicken I've had in NYC. A sad state of affairs.

        1. re: UES Mayor

          Another vote for Popeye's (sigh). Their biscuits kick a$$, too...

        2. Have you tried Momofuku Noodle Bar's fried chicken? I found both the Korean and Southern styles to be well seasoned, very crispy, and totally greaseless.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Lacrosse_Gastronomic

            No, I haven't tried Noodle Bar's--but I will. Thanks for reminding me about Korean fried chicken--it's (obviously) different from southern, but I've liked it when I've had it--twice-fried, extremely crispy, minimally battered and greaseless.

          2. I wasn't as high on The Redhead's FC as some others were. Same for The Dutch - excellent crunch:moist ratio at The Dutch, but I found it curiously underseasoned.

            The best in town for me is still at Henry's End in Brooklyn Heights. Really interestingly seasoned, great crunch. Heartattack on a plate, yes, but damn tasty.

            It may not your mom's (because nothing's ever better than mom's) but hey, it might work in a pinch.

            2nd Place: Peel's wasn't bad, though I've only had it in their build-a-biscuit breakfast sandwich (and smothered in red-eye gravy) and not as a solo entree, so I can't fully judge.

            5 Replies
            1. re: sgordon

              Had not heard that about Henry's End, but thanks for the tip!

              1. re: equilibrist

                I come down on the other side about the chicken at Henry's End. It's oddly seasoned in a bad way, like somebody in in the kitchen was experimenting and the results weren't good. Yes, they've been making it this way for years so obviously some people like it but I'm not one of them.

                1. re: Bob Martinez

                  While I don't personally know anyone who's disliked it, I could see how the spicing might throw some people - on first taste, many are surprised. It's fairly aggressively spiced, whereas the seasoning on most FC boils down to salt & pepper - and maybe a dash of cayenne or paprika or garlic powder - there's something like a dozen ingredients in HE's blend. And unlike the Colonel's Secret Recipe, you can actually taste them in the finished product.

                  1. re: sgordon

                    Ohhhh, I taste the seasonings in the Colonel's secret recipe...

              2. re: sgordon

                I concur on The Dutch, great crunch, moist juicy chicken but the DP found it was a little underseasoned. Nothing a liberal dose of hot sauce can't fix though. And not being a fried chicken lover, was very pleased that it wasn't super greasy.

              3. Popularity is not always an indicator of quality, especially in NYC where word of mouth can have disproportionate weight depending on whose mouth we're talking about. There is definitely good fried chicken out there -- the Commodore stands out most in my head, Charles Gabriel's when it's fresh out of the fryer -- but a lot of other examples leave me almost convinced that the popularity of Southern restaurants here derives far too much of its strength from its appeal to nostalgia and taste makers than people with actual taste.

                1 Reply
                1. re: JungMann

                  +1 for Charles Gabriel. How could I forget?

                2. I really have no idea why people in NYC eat fried chicken or barbecue. I never eat bagels or pastrami or brunch in North Carolina.

                  75 Replies
                  1. re: barberinibee

                    Because we have acceptable fried chicken and barbecue - even some that's beyond acceptable, and very good.

                    On the other hand, maybe they only have shit bagels and pastrami in North Carolina. I dunno, never been there.

                    1. re: sgordon

                      Disagree. Fried chicken and barbecue in NYC is like eating chop suey. New York in the past has had hideous Mexican food and hideous hamburgers. It takes awhile for some regional foods to take root in NYC. I think the problem with fried chicken and barbecue is that people from the regions of America where those dishes are native don't move to NYC in large numbers.

                      1. re: barberinibee

                        Chop suey doesn't have to be bad, does it? It's just a wok fry of whatever odds and ends are left over. At least, that's what it was, traditionally.

                        1. re: Pan

                          Lord, it's getting hard to find decent chop suey. I read that in the '90s when American companies were opening in China, there was a growing market for Americanized Chinese Food like chop suey and General Tso's Chicken, which doesn't even exist over there. So you had Chinese cooks having to learn how to make American Chinese food because that's what was selling. For the American expat, THAT was the comfort food they were craving.

                        2. re: barberinibee

                          Charles Southern Kitchen is pretty good by southern standards as is Fette Sau for BBQ. It seems people like to assign mystical qualities to these items but they can be done well outside of these areas.

                          1. re: barberinibee

                            Yes, that regional hamburger took a long time to take hold in NYC. As did the hot dog.

                            1. re: barberinibee

                              The first hamburger ever served in America was served in New York City in the 19th Century.

                              Hamburgers may have been bad here 20 years ago -- but not because they come from some other region and took a while to take hold.

                              ETA -- I see mitcheleeny beat me to this.

                                1. re: Sneakeater

                                  I've seen many an argument over the first hamburger in the US, for Loius' Lunch, for the guy from Athens, for a couple others... but not once have I seen a New York City institution part of the debate.

                                2. re: barberinibee

                                  Fried chicken isn't any more "native" to the Southern US than it is to Nunavut. The fried chicken we know today is a bit of a mishmosh of West African and Scottish (of all things) traditions, both groups that wound up in the Southern US in large numbers.

                                  As to there not being large numbers of people in NYC with ancestry from the American South - it appears you've never been above 110th St.

                                  1. re: sgordon

                                    I had forgotten about this thread!

                                    Touche, sgordon, but i don't think African-American southern cooking has yet to have much penetration on NYC foodie habits, buzz or on restaurants opening, do you? What little there is outside of black neighborhoods has been a long time coming given the sheer numbers of the population. I would say the same about Puerto Rican cuisine, knowledge of which lags even further behind.

                                    1. re: barberinibee

                                      NYC foodies have been going to Charles Gabriel's, Amy Ruth's, and the late lamented M&G Sould Food Diner for years.

                                      Not that I feel that there's such a thing as "authentic" fried chicken, but for that particular Southern style, those in the know have known of them for a long time. There's Sylvia's as well, but they're more of a tourist trap nowadays. There was also The Pink Tea Cup downtown back in the day.

                                      I mean, I hate to sound indelicate, but it sounds like what you're looking for is the kind of fried chicken you'd get in Harlem, only without going to Harlem.

                                      And there are some decent ones, which maybe on minor levels differ stylistically. My own experience - give Peel's a try. And Henry's End, although while his crunch::moist is great and they're very well seasoned, the spices he uses might throw you a bit, as they're more Northeastern than Southern - still delicious, but just different.

                                      1. re: sgordon

                                        Which places in Harlem do you think are putting out the best fried chicken, nowadays?

                                        1. re: Pan

                                          I hope no one says Kennedy Fried Chicken ( the other KFC). There's also Texas Fried Chicken aka TFC aka Terrible %$*(#& Chicken

                                          1. re: Pan

                                            Charles Gabriel #1
                                            Amy Ruth's #2

                                            Caveat: it's been a couple years since I've been to AR, though I doubt they've changed.

                                            1. re: sgordon

                                              Amy Ruth's was still turning out some very good fried chicken as of six months or so ago. I had a nice plate at Miss Mamie's around that time as well, but the sides there weren't very good.

                                          2. re: sgordon

                                            For fried chicken like you get in Harlem without going to Harlem, go to Rack and Soul where Mr. Gabriel himself sometimes does the cooking. Though two things come to mind, why anyone would not want to go to Harlem makes no sense anymore and Rack and Soul is far enough uptown you are pretty close to Harlem anyway. As for fried chicken and where to get it, I thought Bob White was excellent. I also like Hill Country despite the ridiculous prices and portions. Finally, go to Charles's Southern Kitchen, eat in at the buffet and let them know you want the fried chicken right out of the skillet, please. I hear Red Rooster does good work but have not gotten there yet, maybe another hound has.


                                            1. re: stuartlafonda

                                              well, a lot of people still think of harlem in 1975 terms. much like a lot of people think you have to get a passport and inoculations to go past astoria in queens.

                                              i'm thankful for those people.

                                            2. re: sgordon


                                              I'm not the one looking for fried chicken in NYC! As I already said, I wouldn't order fried chicken in NYC. I wouldn't expect it to be good. (I also don't much care for it to begin with.) I am a firm believer that regional dishes get their flavor mainly from the local ingredients , the local conditions and the passed around knowledge of the native cooks. That's clearer if you live in Italy, but I think it holds true elsewhere. (Is this what's meant by terroir?)

                                              I'm commenting on the fact that a lot of food follows significant immigration -- and you rightly pointed out that plenty of southern Americans live in Manhattan -- in Harlem -- to which I countered that discrimination has meant an isolation of their cooking, likewise with Puerto Rican cooking. I think it is noteworthy that Korean fried chicken got wildfire popularity once we got a critical mass of Koreans living in Manhattan and people discovering the cuisine as cheap eats. It's not the same as a few people making pilgrimages to Harlem to eat.

                                              It's not important, but the last place I lived in Manhattan before moving to Italy was Claremont St., and I used to go to Harlem frequently to shop at Fairway and eat at restaurants other than soul food restaurants. I think soul food also has a problem with being thought of as unhealthy.

                                              1. re: barberinibee

                                                >I think it is noteworthy that Korean fried chicken got wildfire popularity once we got a critical mass of Koreans living in Manhattan and people discovering the cuisine as cheap eats.

                                                I'm not convinced we have "critical mass" of Koreans living in Manhattan even now, whatever that means. The Korean fried chicken places that found a following in Manhattan first arrived in Queens and northern New Jersey, gained fans there, then opened across the water, where Manhattan dwellers of varied ethnicities discovered them (with the help of tips on Chowhound, among other places).

                                                  1. re: LeahBaila

                                                    The urban food evolution that reminds me the most on NYC's is Amsterdam's food evolution. Many similarities even beyond the underlying Dutch culture.

                                          3. re: barberinibee

                                            "hideous hamburgers" in NYC? The burger is a "regional food"?

                                            You just lost me. Permanently.

                                            1. re: Bob Martinez

                                              Seen many cows in NYC lately?

                                              I don't know when you got to NYC or where you came from, but it is only in recent years it was possible to get an affordable hamburger anywhere near as tasty as in many other parts of America. Great hot dogs? Sure. Great deli sandwiches? No problem. Ask for a hamburger and you would get a disk for frozen grey meat on a stale wonder-bun.

                                                1. re: barberinibee

                                                  well, i've been eating burgers at Donovan's, Corner Bistro, Old Town and several other places that i -- and many "experts" -- consider excellent for more than 25 years.

                                                  are there bad burgers here? yep. are there bad lobster rolls in maine and bad sushi purveyors in tokyo? i'd say so.

                                                  1. re: debinqueens

                                                    Deb, don't tell him about those places. He'll start showing up with a bunch of out of towners and claim he "discovered" them.

                                                    1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                      Bob, is the "him" in your post me? I'm a woman -- born in Queens.

                                                    1. re: barberinibee

                                                      You're logic is totally confounding. Cows have to be raised in NYC for there to be the beef for good hamburgers? Well where did the meat for the hotdogs and delis come from? The pigs and cows (for the pastrami and corned beef) are raised locally unlike the cows for hamburgers? You speak about Italy and how it seems everything is sourced locally. Did you know that Italy imports huge amounts of wheat to make pasta? Wheat that can come from America. Olives for the famed olive oil can come from Greece and Spain.

                                                      1. re: Bkeats

                                                        I was joking about the cows!

                                                        Yes, I do know about Italian food.

                                                        People appear to think I am saying there are no good hamburgers in NYC. That's not what I wrote. Hamburgers used to be really poor in NYC. So were a lot of other foods (Mexican, Italian). But people get around, they taste something better, then there is a demand, etc.

                                                      2. re: barberinibee

                                                        "Ask for a hamburger and you would get a disk for frozen grey meat on a stale wonder-bun."

                                                        That's nuts. Or to be more to the point, hilarious.

                                                        "I don't know when you got to NYC or where you came from ..."

                                                        I "got" to New York City on the day I was born and have lived here my whole life. That would tend to give me the edge over somebody who came here from Smallville and lived in NYC for a couple of years before moving on. I was actually here long enough to figure things out.

                                                        Clearly when you were in NY you made the mistake of eating burgers in diners and coffee shops. Maybe you even went to Elaines – that seems about right. Well yes, all those burgers sucked. They sucked 30 years ago and they suck now. On the other hand bars, real bars and not scenester places like Elaines, have long served big beefy specimens, cooked to order and served on good bread. Italian rolls, brioche, potato rolls, onion rolls, the list goes on and on. If the burger in the bar around the corner wasn’t to your liking all you had to do is walk a block away to find something better.

                                                        It was *easy* to get a great burger. You could get them in all five boroughs too. You just didn’t know it and none of the locals told you.

                                                        “Seen many cows in NYC lately?”

                                                        There’s a reason they call it a New York Strip Steak. Here’s the way it works. They raise the cows someplace else and then they send them to New York. Some cows become NY Strips some become burgers. It’s actually really simple. There’s no need to graze herds in Central Park.

                                                        1. re: barberinibee

                                                          Have you heard of refrigerated railway cars?

                                                          1. re: MVNYC

                                                            One last thought, Chowsters (since we are turning this to a burger rant too)

                                                            Have none of you read the recent articles about the sudden popularity of good burgers in Paris and people blogging about where to find good ones in Rome? This not about catering to visiting to tourists. Its local French and Romans wanting burgers --- partly because a new generation has traveled to America, mainly to New York and sometimes LA, and tasted quality burgers. I'm not suggesting that European interest in an imprimatur. I'm just pointing out the newness of the phenomenon.

                                                            1. re: barberinibee

                                                              Really? Because the French have been eating "bifteck hache" for a very, very, VERY long time. I first encountered it in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and again in other, much older French cookbooks. I guess they're looking for "authentic" American hamburgers instead of the pale French substitute.


                                                              1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                Yes, monkeyerotica, exactly. That is what they are looking for.

                                                          2. re: barberinibee

                                                            Just FYI, there are lots of cows in Upstate New York. I'm sure all the Bistecca alla Fiorentina that you get in Florence is from cows grazed on the Piazza della Signoria, too, right?

                                                            1. re: Pan

                                                              bob, MVNYC,

                                                              I answered above before I saw your other posts.

                                                              I'm sticking to my story! I think you could go back and read food critics and even old Chowhound posts (not written by me) and find lots of huzzahs about how finally it was possible to find good burgers in NYC. Never been to Elaine's, but for some years, Jackson Hole was about all anybody would point to as being close to what they remembered as being a good burger from other places.

                                                              Please realize when I am talking about a burger I am not talking just about ground beef. I'm talking about the whole gestalt. You can get a ground beef patty in Italy -- it's called a "svizzera" where I live because only migrant Swiss workers ever wanted to buy it -- but that is not a burger.

                                                              I think that's the dynamic in the food culture anywhere. Migrants come, they bring their food with them, except in the new locale, they can't get the exact same ingredients, so they make do with what's available, and work on ways to make it really tasty (meaning, like home), or get ingredients imported, setting up their own markets. In the process, palates change.

                                                              And the process goes the other way more easily now: People travel and they get to taste actual Italian food or actual Mexican dishes in all their variety, and they began to want it where they live, instead of the bastardized version they've been eating, creating opportunities for -- Mario Batali! If the source of the cuisine is very far away, too far for tourism, most people will go on eating what is presented to them as real Russian or real Indian food and just go on believing it is even if it isn't.

                                                              Since this is a thread for a fried chicken rant (somebody else's), I will point out that for a long time it has been much easier for Americans to taste the regional food of their own country, or bring to NYC memories of home town tastes (Danny Meyer started Shake Shack because he wanted to bring his childhood memories of St Louis to Manhattan). And New Yorkers, when they moved, take their food with them where they went (great delis in LA and Miami, while elsewhere people eat Dunkin' Donut blueberry bagels).

                                                              In sum (ahem), over time, through this process of human movement, some cuisines and food treats have gotten MUCH better in NYC within living memory: hamburgers, Mexican food, Korean food, Italian food, Japanese food. Some are still awaiting their close-up: fried chicken, apparently, Indian food certainly, many foods of the Arab world. Yes, I know you can find good Indian restaurants in NYC, but most people in NYC are eating chop suey when it comes to Indian food. They've really no knowledge of what Indians eat.

                                                              Interesting to me is that Italy is a much less dynamic, closed place, but that makes other things possible.

                                                              1. re: barberinibee

                                                                What's wrong with chop suey? It's a classic Americanized Chinese dish. And you've clearly never tried Indian Chop Suey. The stuff is amazing and wouldn't exist if American expats hadn't brought it to India.


                                                                1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                  You are making the same points I have been making.

                                                                2. re: barberinibee

                                                                  " but for some years, Jackson Hole was about all anybody would point to as being close to what they remembered as being a good burger from other places. "

                                                                  Time for a reality check. Jackson Hole was *never* good. The only positive thing they had going for them was their gorgeous Airline Diner location. Their burgers, while impressively large, were thrown on a griddle for a minute or two and then an individual steel dome was put over them. The burger then steamed to a watery well done mess. Awful stuff.

                                                                  I think we've established that during your time in New York you were focusing on things other than burgers.

                                                                  I'll be the first to agree that overall food in New York has gotten *much* better over the last 30 years. That said, back in the Dark Ages one of the few reliable bright spots in New York was the availability of good burgers. Lots of people, native NYers and longtime residents, are telling you that.

                                                                  Now granted, the range of burger choices was more limited then. There was the big hand made beefy bar burger and then there were premade crappy diner burgers. (No need to mention chains - they sucked then and they suck now.)

                                                                  Over the last 15 years burgers in NY have become a cult item, People go on and on about the smashed style, the infinite number of custom LaFrieda blends, they wait on line for Shake Shack in Madison Square park.

                                                                  Personally I think there's a lot of burger voodoo being practiced. A tidal wave of suburban kids have come to NY and miss the food court burgers they used to get at the mall when they were in high school. All those thin little patties in their myriad forms give them an idealized version of the burger of their youth. That's swell. Far be it from me to deny them what they want.

                                                                  The burger of my NY youth is the bar burger, thick enough so when you order it medium rare it actually means something. Those burgers were available 30 years ago and they're available now. They never go out of style.

                                                                  1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                    " Airline Diner location"?

                                                                    Could be I was focusing on things other than burgers!

                                                                    1. re: barberinibee

                                                                      I just found Jackson Hole Airline Diner on Google. Never been there. Only locations I was ever at were UES. And mind you, I never said Jackson Hole served great burgers anywhere.

                                                                3. re: Pan


                                                                  Even though I was joking about the cows, I can't get bistecca alla fiorentina where I live in Italy, even though I wouldn't have to drive as far to see chianina cattle as would to see "lots of cows" were I living in Manhattan. And if one eats quality bistecca in Firenze, the butchered chianina beef usually has traveled less than an hour to get there.

                                                                  Since bistecca alla fiorentina is not part of my local Ligurian cuisine, there is no market for it where I live, but it is true that people here would question whether anybody around here knew how to prepare chianina beef properly (have the right cooking implements, knowledge of the meat, etc) and if the quality of the beef would suffer from transporting it (refrigerator cars aren't an answer in Italy).

                                                                  Bistecca alla fiorentina is considered a highly local dish, not just a style of preparation, made with a very specific local ingredient and locally known cooking technique, and people in Italy wouldn't expect to find it on menus hundreds of miles from its source, and most would be disinclined to eat it if they did, with reason.

                                                                  1. re: barberinibee

                                                                    So if the beef has to travel 4 hours to get to New York City, what then? The US is different from Italy, in that the country is so much bigger and the distances people and things travel are often much greater.

                                                                    1. re: Pan

                                                                      The distance beef travels is somewhat irrelevant, given that no one want to eat beef one hour removed from the cow, anyway. Be it wet aged or dry aged, beef needs a bit of time on it before it's ready to eat. Most people - and I'd wager nearly every person on this thread - have never actually tasted beef less than a week old, minimum. It kind of sucks, actually.

                                                                      1. re: sgordon

                                                                        I've eaten goat that was just slaughtered. Cows that are just slaughtered are no good?

                                                                        1. re: Pan

                                                                          Pretty much every mammalian meat (and even some poultry) on the market is aged to some degree - usually wet aged. Pork and lamb (and probably goat) up to a week, beef a little longer. Depends on the cut, as well.

                                                                          It's not that food straight from the animal is always bad, per se, but it can be a bit bland and tough when compared to its aged counterparts, whatever the method. Giving a little time for the natural enzymes to break down the connective tissue tenders it, and the flavor intensifies somewhat - dry-aging obviously adds a MUCH more intense flavor, both from the dehydration and from allowing outside enzymes in, giving it that funky fermented layer. But even wet-aging brings quite a bit more life to the taste party. I think were you to somehow have that freshly slaughtered goat alongside one that'd been cryovacced for a couple weeks, the flavor and textural differences would be quite noticeable.

                                                                          Of course, the extra "mental flavor" brought on by the primal intensity of eating a freshly killed animal also has its charms...

                                                                          1. re: sgordon

                                                                            I discovered this reality, which reveals my urban roots, when I was working many years ago at a small missionary hospital in the Liberian bush. I went to the local market and asked the butcher to cut me a big beef tenderloin off the cow he had hanging in his stall, and returned to my tin shack salivating over the prospect of a grilled tender steak, only to find that it was inedibly hard and chewy. Some local old-timers at the hospital had to explain to the city kid that you have to put the meat in your fridge for a couple of weeks to age, or it's essentially only useful as stew meat.

                                                                            1. re: sgordon

                                                                              I think it would be hard to age meat in an equatorial zone without refrigeration, without the meat rotting, unless you do what a great sate restaurant owner on the outskirts of Jakarta in the 70s did, which was to put his meat in papaya skins and tie them up. Ta-da! Meat tenderizing!

                                                                              1. re: Pan

                                                                                Maybe what this thread needs is a deep discussion of venison and refrigerator cars and that vanished culture of restaurant eating in NYC.

                                                                          2. re: sgordon

                                                                            Folks? I actually started laughing at this point.

                                                                            I honestly think I am talking about something so obvious that maybe if I said it another way, you'd all be agreeing. You know, like,"industrializing the food supply doesn't make it better" ( that work for you?) or "things have changed in NYC, foodwise. Less Americanized ethnic foods and closer to what the original foods are. Don't you think so? I can remember when it was very different."

                                                                            Italy really is different (more mountainous), which is not to say it is better -- OK? It would be greeted with incredulity in Italy the notion that refrigerating foods or having them travel for hours is irrelevant, or that what a cow eats and where it lives and its heritage doesn't make a profound difference as to how you use its meat to cook. But look, there are internationally celebrated Tuscan butchers who proudly insist to journalists only get their beef from Spain, so we all live in a world of contradictions.

                                                                            I actually don't like the food in Tuscany, I still wouldn't order fried chicken or barbecue in Manhattan, and the only reason I wandered over here from the Italy board is that I've been waiting for a trip report from a Manhattanite who recently did a food tour of my Ligurian neighborhood, and she's been days late in delivering. But I can find something else to do to stay out of trouble. You can rant on without me....

                                                                            1. re: barberinibee

                                                                              I would agree that most foods suffer with travel and refrigeration, but beef is clearly not one of them. Obviously what an animal eats and its environment play a huge role on how it tastes but transportation doesn't matter. Beef needs to age so doing so partly during transportation doesn't matter.

                                                                              Locavorism has its benefits but I think you are taking the ethos a bit too seriously.

                                                                              1. re: MVNYC

                                                                                I think I'm the only one laughing here, to tell you the truth.

                                                                                A burger is a Western dish, okay? No? Well, then we disagree.

                                                                                There is no such thing as "locovorism" in Italy. There is only eating, and eating is intensely local because transportation is historically lousy for one thing, but also because people live so close to their land and their food source, even when they live in cities, they can taste the difference. Proof is in the eating. Come to Italy! You can taste the difference. But I warn you: Afterwards, you won't eat what you used to. You'll turn your nose up at food that has traveled too far from its source. It just won't be worth it. Sort of like the way some people lose all their appetite for Oreos or canned soup once they've tasted a handmade cookie or soup.

                                                                                1. re: barberinibee

                                                                                  I have family in the Veneto and have been to Italy many times. I have traveled extensively in the north and somewhat less in the south. Whether or not it is called locavorism or not in Italy, that is what it is. People agree with this principle and it makes the food great. This is definitely true with produce and seafood. However animals like cows, pigs and sheep actually do travel well.

                                                                                  Having been to Italy I agree Italian food is better there and I rarely eat it out in the US. I do cook in the Italian manner with local ingredients but I don't take it too far, otherwise I would only be eating squirrel, rat and pigeon with the occasional starling and raccoon mixed in.

                                                                                  1. re: MVNYC

                                                                                    Yes, the options in NY are unappetizing. Fortunately, I live on a farm that makes its own olive oil, plus grows fruit, veg, etc., and we have both the sea and the mountains within 1,000 meters, and while it there are downsides to living among cinghale, overall it is better than rat (and the seafood is superb).

                                                                                    It's not an "ism" here. It isn't even a choice.

                                                                            2. re: sgordon

                                                                              Here's food for thought about living not just in a world of contradictions but of compromised food, everywhere:


                                                              2. re: barberinibee

                                                                Because we live here, and many of us don't have occasion to travel to the South more than once in a blue moon. And there's probably another truth: Many of us New Yorkers may not know just how good the fried chicken you get in NC is and like places like The Redhead, panned in this thread though it may be, just fine. I've had good experiences there, myself.

                                                                1. re: Pan

                                                                  The same could be said of many far off cuisines, like Greek, Japanese or Malaysian

                                                                  1. re: Pan


                                                                    Here you seem to be making the exact same point I've been making.

                                                                      1. re: Pan

                                                                        But then maybe the only real source of irritation is my having a pretty long time line on NYC. I was born in Queens, spent much of my older childhood in LA, and returned as a teenager -- and it was years before I was able to get a burger in NYC that I would have recommended to somebody else as good.

                                                                        1. re: barberinibee

                                                                          I actually rarely eat hamburgers, but you can certainly get good steak in New York, and that also comes from a cow (or perhaps a steer). :-)

                                                                          1. re: Pan

                                                                            And Salisbury Steak was always the best in NYC! :-)

                                                                          2. re: barberinibee

                                                                            I enjoy your posts over here. It makes me want to go read your stuff on the Italy board. I completely agree with what you're saying about burgers. Just because burgers have become trendy doesn't make them bad. There are a lot of seriously good burgers in NYC now.

                                                                            1. re: Peter Cuce


                                                                              Catch me over there! I'm outta here!

                                                                              I hasten to add before I go that there is such a thing in Italy as "KM 0", since I said there wasn't "locavorism" in Italy in a previous post, and I don't want to get pounced on.

                                                                              1. re: barberinibee

                                                                                The "Slow Food" movement began in Piedmont, back the 80s, as well.

                                                                                1. re: sgordon

                                                                                  Yeah, but that was a reaction to McDonald's in Rome, and other fast food invasions, among other things. A LOT of other things.

                                                                            2. re: barberinibee

                                                                              Folks, this is getting pretty far afield from talking about food that people can actually get right now in New York, so we'd ask that you let this whole sub-thread about whether New York has always or only recently had good hamburgers go, and focus on talking about the food (preferably fried chicken since that's the topic of the thread) that's out there today. Thanks!

                                                                              1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                                                Hooray for the Chowhound Team. This discussion was getting ridiculous.

                                                                                I liked fried chicken at Blue Ribbon Brasserie.

                                                                                1. re: H Manning

                                                                                  [Deleted by me]

                                                                                  (don't want my account killed until jenkalb has posted on the Italy board).

                                                                                2. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                                                  Yeah! Fried chicken! I step away from this thread for a few days, and it's been hijacked!

                                                                                  I'm excited to try Charles' Southern Chicken. But if I can't get uptown for a while, I believe there's still a Popeyes not too far from me....

                                                                      2. What about Pies N Thighs? I am no expert on southern fried chicken, but I like their Chicken Biscuit very, very much.

                                                                        1. No one's fried chicken will be as good as your mother's. Simple as that. Most people in NYC didn't have mothers making any MFC (mother's fried chicken) much less especially good MFC. I grew up down south and love FC. While my mother made a good MFC, I wouldn't say its the best I've ever eaten but please don't tell her that. So while you have a high benchmark for FC, I don't think most people have the same standards. I imagine that there are dishes that you think are fantastic in restaurants and you will have someone tell you that its crap and nowhere close to what mama or nonna could make. I know I do. I also agree that Popeye's for fast food FC is great. Gotta go with the spicy.

                                                                          11 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Bkeats

                                                                            For all the CH rants about mom & pop eateries always being better than chains, Popeye's delivers a consistent, quality product, better than most of the upscale places offering fried chicken. I've seen Popeye's managers throw whole racks of chicken out because they've been sitting in the heat lamps too long. And staff hate to make onion rings because they have to be made fresh. They're not held under heat lamps AT ALL. Some shops don't even offer onion rings for this reason.

                                                                            1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                              i was underwhelmed by Red Head FC also. Many places overcoat the chicken, so even brag about"double dipped" coating which is just gross and the crust just falls off in one piece on the first bite. Good biscuits are also hard to find. I lived in Memphis for a number of years and learned that biscuits MUST be served hot out of the oven or not at all.

                                                                              1. re: chervil9

                                                                                Same rule applies to cornbread, Oh and we used to like Church's Fried Chicken in Memphis for fast food type tho Popeye's is good too.

                                                                            2. re: Bkeats

                                                                              Popeye's is too greasy and the biscuits are too oily. Just my opinion.

                                                                              1. re: MrGrumpy

                                                                                Any chains where the chicken isn't too greasy and the biscuits aren't too oily?

                                                                                1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                  I don't make it any more, but my son grew up on DFC. (Dad's fried chicken.) It may be a no-no in NC, but I only used skinless chicken breasts, soaked in milk with Frank's hot souce. Then shaken in a bag of flour with salt, black and white pepper and Dad's secret herbs and spices. Allowed to sit on a rack in the 'fridge for at least an hour then browned in a cast iron pan at 375F. Lowered to 350F, covered and cooked until done, about 15 minutes. Crisp, moist and greaseless. I'm hungry.

                                                                                  1. re: Stuartmc910

                                                                                    RFC (Riverman's Fried Chicken) used Shake N Bake. Never again...

                                                                                    I love Momofuku's southern fried chicken but prefer Bonchon for Korean.

                                                                                    1. re: Stuartmc910

                                                                                      Sounds good, but that isn't fried chicken, and not because it's skinless--if it's "browned" but then covered, it's essentially steamed.

                                                                                      1. re: equilibrist

                                                                                        Well, it comes out crispy, greaseless and yummy, not "steamed." I should have mentioned that the oil is deep.

                                                                                      2. re: Stuartmc910

                                                                                        Not that is has to be deep fried in a vat of oil, mind you--that seems to be the way most places do it, but I prefer the traditional pan-fried southern chicken.

                                                                                2. I generally agree with you... But have you tried Hill Country Chicken or Peels? The closest/best thing to real Southern fried chicken I've found.

                                                                                  1. I eat Popeye's, and it is indeed salty and greasy. There's some mediocre fried chicken around, sure, but Bobwhite's is good, as is The Commodore and Pies & Thighs. Manna's is good when fresh. My mother didn't make it, so I can only compare one restaurant with another - I don't have some internalized Platonic ideal.

                                                                                    1. I'm satisfied with a lemon slice or two squeezed over (Japanese) karaage. I never eat fried chicken, unless it's that. 41st St. by the NYPL can take care of that seldom yearning.

                                                                                      1. The key to great fried chicken, as your mother knew, is pan-frying as opposed to deep frying, and that takes too long in restaurants that do not have a very large demand for fried chicken. Also, scientists studying the issue have determined that factors of atmosphere, gravity and latitude make it virtually impossible to fry chicken properly north of Richmond.

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: dcbbq

                                                                                          >The key to great fried chicken, as your mother knew, is pan-frying as opposed to deep frying..

                                                                                          Just one reason Charles' chicken is so good ... http://www.chow.com/food-news/55112/t...

                                                                                          1. re: squid kun

                                                                                            Gus's in Memphis deep fries and it's better than Charle's by multitudes.