You perhaps know the drill by now. The fried chicken is only available on one night of the week. It sells out early, so you should aim for a 6:30 dinner. The waiter relays the countdown by way of greeting: “Welcome! Would you like a drink, and how many of the XX remaining orders of chicken should I reserve for the table?”
Ever since Scott Peacock changed the very meaning of the word “Tuesday” in Atlanta with his fried chicken at Watershed, this little chicken dance has been a mainstay of destination dining.
What do we look for in fried chicken? That Anton Ego moment of innocent childhood rapture at mama’s table? An antidote to the guilty pleasure of Popeye’s? A flavor missive from the collective unconscious? Or maybe we just want to know if it’s possible for chicken to taste like more than that blandly agreeable bird we know so well.
The buzzy fried chicken in town now roosts at The General Muir, that deli-inspired restaurant where chef Todd Ginsberg does so much so right. It happens on Friday nights, a Southern vision of Sabbath dinner.
“We’ve got nine orders left,” says our waiter loudly, as both a statement to us and an implied question to other servers within earshot. Nine? Nine. The three of us do the sensible thing: we order two. He runs to the kitchen to claim them and then returns for our drink order.
It is good fried chicken: three pieces swaddled in a dishtowel, with sheer, dry and crackly skin. Ginsberg always brings finesse to his food, an attention to textures and composition, a touch that is all his.
But in the final count his chicken is just chicken — pleasant enough, properly cooked, nice in the way of a Sunday roast. No more than that. I can see why he chose a boneless breast for that skin, but I don’t necessarily agree with it. I’m not sure if I was missing the Colonel’s 12 secret herbs and spices or Watershed’s salty brine, or maybe I’m one of those people who keeps ordering fried chicken, waiting for something more.
Thank Yahweh the third member of our party ordered a Reuben sandwich. Have you tried The General Muir’s Reuben, made with house corned beef? Now that’s bliss.
- by John Kessler for the Food & More blog