When I woke up this morning I had a deep yearning for a piece of fried chicken.
I'm actually not that particular about which piece. Thighs, wings, drumsticks and even the frequently dry breast, are all all right with me, because in the end I love fried chicken because of the crispy, crunchy, greaseless exterior coating, in which the breading and the skin become a cosmic one.
So where can I go for my fried chicken fix today?
Three places immediately come to mind:
1) Rack and Soul/Charles' Southern Style Kitchen: Charles Gabriel is perhaps NYC's greatest fried chicken cook. If he used just a little more salt in his batter he would be inducted into the International Fried Chicken Hall of Fame. One note: Last time I was in Rack and Soul for lunch, our chicken arrived two minutes after we ordered it. It had obviously been made well before we ordered it. So if you go at lunch, tell them you'll wait until your chicken is cooked to order.
Rack and Soul: 2818 Broadway (109th St.) 212-222-4800
Charles' Southern Kitchen: 2837 Eighth Avenue (152nd St.) 212-926-4313
2) Blue Smoke: Kenny Callaghan's fried chicken was inspired by an unscheduled stop I forced him to make at Gus' World Famous Fried Chicken , when we were driving back to the Memphis airport after spending two days eating barbecue at the Southern Foodways Barbecue Conference. Though nobody at Gus' let him get too close to the kitchen, he must have picked up something he put to use. The fried chicken here is amazing, crispy and crunchy on the outside, moist and delicious on the inside. Note: It's only served at dinner. I've begged them to serve it at lunch, but they wouldn't do it.
You can order it when you are listening to music at the Jazz Standard downstairs. It is the best thing I've ever tasted in a club.
Blue Smoke: 116 E. 27th St. (between Park Ave. South and Lexington Avenue) 212-447-7733
3) Jacque-Imo's NYC: Jacque-Imo founder Jacques Leonardi had the wisdom to hire the late, great Austin Leslie when he opened his Jacque-Imo's in New Orleans. Austin Leslie passed on recently, but you can eat a reasonable facsimile of his wondrous fried chicken at the Jacque-Imo's NYC on Columbus Avenue. There it's cooked to order. At the branch in Grand Central, the fried chicken has obviously been sitting around too long.
Jacques-Imo's NYC: 366 Columbus Ave. (77th St.) 212-799-0150
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