I was the one championing Pizza Ranch. And truthfully, the chicken I had at their Carroll, Iowa location is still better than anything I've had in MSP. I've tried the Champlin and Maplewood locations, and neither one stacks up. The bird is still very juicy, but it is also a bit on the bland side. A bit of attention to seasoning would help immensely.
I still need to make a stop in Grandy on my next cabin trip.
I can't tell you either way. I assume it's all coming from one place, but I've never been in their kitchens. Either way, it's better (at least at the one location) than the other offerings I can get around here.
I would also add Bear Town Bar in White Bear Lake to this list, though their chicken is also broasted.
Your answer is the Brass Rail in Grandy, MN. It's about 5 minutes north of Cambridge on Highway 65. It's about a 45-minute drive from downtown Minneapolis depending on lights/traffic.
If it isn't worth the drive, I'll buy you another meal at the chicken restaurant of your choice. I am that confident in this recommendation. Everyone I've ever taken there has left convinced.
re: Db Cooper
Growing up in Cambridge I will agree the Brass Rail's Chicken is by far the best, but it is technically broasted (if the distinction makes a difference to the OP).
Find Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc Fried Chicken recipe on the internet and you'll have a more amazing bird than any restaurant can offer, besides Ad Hoc itself.
It seems to me that the Pizza Ranch reference was on a recent best-of list. Not Andrew Zimmern's, but whose? And I laughed because that was no scoop for regular readers here, where it had been popping up periodically on the long-running discussions of state of fried chicken in the state of Minnesota.
Here's the full discussion:
Plus a lengthy discussion of the real estate dealings of the Popeye's chain, which somehow omits a note that this is [St. Louis Park native and Washington Post restaurant critic] Tom Sietsema's favorite guilty pleasre:
Not to be outdone by the ongoing musings on Pollo Campero: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/754093
And the Left Handed Cook is a new contender: