Friday, October 29, 2010

Young Eastwood just tryin to eat good....(JG Domestic)

Jidori Chicken , White Yam, Chicken Liver Gravy

    Let's be honest. Jose Garces is no longer a mere man. He isn't even just a chef anymore; he's a brand. He has reached a level where just the mention of his name elicits response. If you have ever been present in one of his restaurants when he is you will know what I am talking about. I was very excited to hear that he would have a fried chicken dish on the menu at his newest restaurant JG Domestic. JG Domestic is another departure for Jose from his Latin food driven empire that looks to embrace the best U.S. farmers have to offer. He does a great job of it too.
   Much like the District Chicken at Garces' Modern mexican outpost Distrito, the fried chicken is sous vide before frying. At JG Domestic Chef de Cuisine Dave Conn uses Jidori Chicken that he crust in cornflakes and serves over a delicious white yam puree with a chicken liver gravy and red cabbage slaw. Juicy breast meat beneath a crispy cornflake crust. An all around good dish, but if you are in the neighborhood for a late lunch or happy hour there is one thing you must get. The greatest bar snack ever is the dish of Hickory Smoked Georgia Pecans. Get over there as soon as possible to eat these. They and some other great salads and sandwiches are well worth the trip.

Hickory Smoked Georgia Pecans

The Skinny Fat Kid

JG Domestic
Cira Centre, Ground Floor
2929 Arch Street, Philadelphia
Phone: 215-222-2363

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Don't get too close because you might get shot...(Deborah's Kitchen)

  Girard Avenue is an interesting place. I said once in a rant that maybe it should be scrapped and started all over. It has stretches that just seem like they will never be full of life. I think the symbol of what Girard can be is promising. However what it symbolizes is more interesting. I see Girard as one of the last untouched neighborhoods near the center of Philadelphia. On the side of Girard closest to me there are a few new shops and restaurants opening. My favorite place in the world Paesano's is among them.  I am sure we are not too far away from the gentrification army trying to rename it something stupid like "Girard Corridor". On the side closest to Deborah's kitchen they like to call it Brewerytown. Nice try.
  In the section I refuse to refer to by that name sits a small takeout spot which is apparently owned by the aunt of a famous football player. He caught many balls from an MVP quarterback and allegedly packs heat that he is not afraid to use.( I'm joking so please do not send me nasty emails. I am only hear to talk about food not criminal investigations.)
  Deborah's is located on an lively block located near some of the revered soul food establishments in Philadelphia. Only a few blocks away lies Butter's, a place I have had the pleasure of visiting in the past. Although Deborah's location is in no way convenient it is worth that trip. I had good fried chicken and yams. I found the skin to be well seasoned and crisp and the breasts meat to be juicy and full of flavor. I will say the collards were underseasoned and the cornbread was not great either. I also had some fried fish which was quite tasty. Deborah's is also located just a few doors from a Lincoln Fried Chicken (same company as Crown Fried Chicken) which I visited for a 2 pice snack box before driving home. Crown still hold up even against Deborah's.

The Skinny Fat Kid

Deborah's Kitchen
2608 W Girard Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19130-1316
(215) 763-3327

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It was all a dream..............(Debreaux's)

"Soul food is not fast food" ~ Debreaux's
"Debreaux's food is definitely not fast food" ~ The Skinny Fat Kid

  I have eaten out a lot. I have eaten a lot of soul food. I have even recently been eating a lot of fried chicken and had some orders take a good amount of time (up to a half an hour). Yet while I sat at Debraux's I could not help but notice the passage of time. I was sitting in this small place outside of Overbrook station excited about the idea of trying this and hopping the train back to Center City to do one more before work. I was unfazed by the oncoming rainstorm and the lack of battery life on my cell phone. Soon I would have fried chicken at 2 different restaurants and was a few hours away from making money. Eating and money, two of my favorite things. Before you suggest combining them; let me say money isn't very tasty.
  I noticed quickly that this was a small mom and pop eatery and was happy that the menu did carry the quote above about soul food. Working in restaurants for a long time I am surprised how impatient people can be when it comes to waiting a reasonable amount of time for quality.  However while Debraux's definitely has quality down, timeliness is not a strong point. I entered at 1:00 p.m. and ordered and did not receive my order until 1:50 p.m. No exaggeration. 50 minutes.  I know that this must have been a fluke and is probably not close to the average wait time, but it did throw off my schedule of eating for the day and made me wish I had taken a nap.
  The chicken itself was delicious. It was probably closest to my mother's in flavor and style and the portion was quite generous. Anyone not calling themselves a skinny fat kid could have broken it into two meals, but I have a reputation to protect. I can recommend this place given the overall quality and the menu does make me want to try other things. I will however probably call ahead next time and bring more DS games.

The Skinny Fat Kid

2135 N 63rd St
Philadelphia, PA 19151-2612
(215) 877-4559

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Just a friendly game of baseball.............(Ms. Tootsie's)


  Philadelphia is a sports town. There are legions of truly passionate fans that take every loss as a personal one. This was the climate on Saturday night as the city bit their nails watching a dramatic finish to game 6 of the NLCS. After the end of the game the people of the city seemed more zombie like than I can recall. I walked by many of these deflated fans as I made my way to do the one thing I enjoy most; eating.
  My "opponent" this evening was  Ms. Tootsie's and my previous attempts at going one on one with the fried chicken were not successful. My first strikeout was several weeks ago in September during the first Sunday of NFL games. I was visiting a cousin in New Jersey and had make plans to visit Ms. Tootsie's when I got back to the city. I found myself much too tired when returning home. This was most likely due to the 2 game stretch of fried chicken away games in New Orleans. On my second swing I called to order some to go after a night at work. I had hope of victory because a flyer in Ms. Toostsie's door promised to-go orders until midnight Sun-Thurs and til 3.a.m. Fri and Sat. My call at 10:40 however was met by the news that they were closed (the dreaded change-up.)
   My final at bat had me nervous. I really was beginning to believe that maybe it was not meant to be. Instead of giving up I decided to take a long hike to South Street and hope by chance on this Saturday that I could find joy in a heartbroken city. Joy was found and a little bit of memories too. While waiting at the bar for my to go order I was taken back in time by the imagery on the flat screens above the bar. VH1 Soul was on every screen and although the music in the restaurant was a classic song later sampled by BDK, the "vixen" was Patra. For the youngsters reading; quite simply Patra was skanking it up before Trina, Lil Kim, and Ms. Minaj realized boys were not made of snakes, snails, and puppy dog tails.
    My order was completed in a timely manner and I made the taxi ride home to indulge. Really good fried chicken. Crisp as a Halladay shutout, juicy as the possible World Series vs. Cliff Lee. Yet the true stars of this series were the yams and the heavenly cornbread. There was a victory in Philly this Saturday night, a skinny fat one. I wonder if they make good fried chicken in Clearwater.

The Skinny Fat Kid

Ms. Tootsie's Soul Food Cafe
1314 South St
Philadelphia, PA 19147-1823
(215) 731-9045

Friday, October 22, 2010

Brush yourself off and try again.. (Meme)

  I first heard of Meme's lunch deal awhile back. Long before I even thought of blogging there were internet and real life whispers of this fried chicken. I had been meaning to try it, but always  found my Thursday afternoons busy. I have heard from friends who did make the trip about how 'incomplete' my blog would be if I didn't try Meme's fried chicken. So I decided to make plans for a trip.
   It was not easy to make it happen. My first attempt was thwarted by a timing issue. I had made a trip to Overbrook station based on a tip about good fried chicken. I had given myself ample time to catch a train back, hit Meme for lunch and still get to work on time that evening. It was not meant to be as it took the spot in Overbrook 50 minutes to complete my order. Septa then decided to engage in its pastime of not being on time and I found myself abandoning the Meme quest. My second attempt got me to the entrance of the restaurant to find they had sold out of fried chicken. Finally on my third attempt I was fortunate enough to get to try it.
   My server explained to me that Thursday lunch at Meme only had one option; fried chicken. While I found this to be a partial gift of music to my ears, I also found myself a bit unnerved that they had run out the previous week. I work in restaurants and I understand running out of items on the menu. It was puzzling that you would run out of the only thing on the menu. Instead of trying to wrap my head around the idea I decided to just wrap my lips around some food.
   The first thing you notice about David Katz's fried chicken is the beauty. I wish that I had a really cool camera like the food stylist use. No picture I could take could really do these 2 pieces of chicken justice. Taste was exceptional as well. served with so far the best biscuit I have had this month. I will admit that as much as I pondered doing it, I could not bring myself to order a Miller High Life. I do have champagne taste but not for the "champagne of beers". I was lucky to have what may make the top 5 in "champagne of chicken".

The Skinny Fat Kid

2201 Spruce St
Philadelphia, PA 19103-5517
(215) 735-4900


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Problem with early morning flights

   As I sit in the B terminal of Philadelphia International Airport I notice I have a problem.  I don't sit still well.  I could probably use the opportunity to get some reading done or catch up on writing, but I doubt either will happen.  The airport is always kept too cold at this time of day to be comfortable. I am also anxious to just get on the damn plane. It is one of the few times I hate being responsible and on time. I also think 8 in the morning is too early for a drink at the airport bar although I am sure it is happy hour in some time zone. I always find at this time my mind is flooded with ideas on what airports need most.
    1. Music/video game stores. I could waste time browsing and buying and if the had a demo station I would school some young boys in Madden.
    2. Soul Food Restaurant. I would sleep like a baby after eating some ribs.
    3. Strip club.  Please someone do this. I understand some people would miss flights with the distraction. I am just thinking of the boost to morale of airport workers if they could get a lappie during break.
    4. Masseuse.  Not the cheap mall set up either. I mean a spa with manicures, facials and saunas. Hell even a hot shower right now would be great.
Any of these would be better than these uncomfortable chairs and overpriced news stands.

The Skinny Fat Kid

Some How, Some Way....(Danny's Wok)

Quick Disclaimer...This post might not be for you.

If you have never seen 'hot cheese' popcorn this post might not be for you.
If you have never eaten them all now and saved none for later this post might not be for you.
If you don't know that 'red' is in fact a flavor this post might not be for you.
If you actually know the name of the man at your corner store and don't just call him 'papi' this post might not be for you.

This post is for a friend. @craftsyr
   When I first told my friend about my fried chicken idea we spoke of the possibility of hitting a Chinese restaurant in the hood. My friend is an expert on Chinese restaurants. I am not speaking here of the noodle and dumpling operations in the beloved Chinatown. I am speaking of the types of places described by Beanie Sigel . The places my friend refers to as "yellow signs"
   My buddy told me without hesitation the place to go was at 58th and Baltimore, Danny's Wok. He told me how throughout West and Southwest Philadelphia this place is revered. I actually recently found a Facebook page dedicated to it. So before work one afternoon I took the subway and trolley rides necessary to experience fried chicken at Danny's.
   Danny's is a rather nondescript place in a small strip of shops. Unassuming in every way possible. The standard bulletproof glass and soiled menus posted on the walls are of course present. The first thing that stood out was the 'wing chart' a huge sign that list the cost of every amount of wings you could possibly ever need to order. This places has prices up to 400 wings. My friend told me he knows of people who have catered their weddings from Danny's.
   We grabbed our fried chicken, some vegetable fried  rice and headed across the parking lot to find outdoor seating at Checkers. (real 'yellow signs' don't have tables. Craft mentioned that the true masterpiece meal is Danny's fried chicken and Checker's fries. I wasn't quite ready for that especially before work. The last time I ate at Checker's I needed a nap. Fried chicken was actually really good at Danny's. I am not typically a fan of fried chicken wings at such places , but wasn't pleasantly surprised. The combination of that with the fried rice and a kiwi-strawberry Mistic took my memories back to a simpler time. That beautiful sunny day was only ruined by the fact that I had to work that evening. So of I went on a nice afternoon walk towards work. And about 3 block from there suddenly the idea of Checker's fries sounded pretty awesome.

The Skinny Fat Kid

Danny's Wok
5750 Baltimore Ave Philadelphia, PA 19143
(215) 471-9020

Sunday, October 10, 2010

You ain't got enough stamps in ya passport....Thinking Outside of the box part 2 (Maru Global)

   Lunch time in Philly can be boring. There are many great options. There are a good amount of inexpensive options as well. Unfortunately there is a lot of repetition. I often find myself limited in deciding where and what to eat. I was very happy when  I heard of Maru Global opening. Maru Global is Philadelphia's only place dedicated to Takoyaki. Takoyoki are small grilled balls of fresh batter traditionally filled with octopus and grilled to order in special pan. At this point I am sure readers are wondering what any of this has to do with fried chicken. Bear with me as I think outside of the box.
   As much as I am loving the traditional and some of the newer methods of doing fried chicken, I wanted to look at how some other cultures include frying in their cuisines. The Korean fried chicken craze is currently all the rage in food culture but the Japanese have also given us Tonkatsu. Tonkatsu is traditionally a fried pork cutlet, but if you look you will sometimes find a chicken version. that is what drew me to Maru Global. I decided to take the chef Ryo Igarashi's advice and try it with his house made vegetable curry instead of the traditional Tonkatsu sauce and it was good advice. The tender fired breast of chicken was enhanced by the curry. It also reminded me that although takoyaki is the specialty at Maru, there is great food to be found throughout the menu. The chef's wife also mentioned a special they were thinking of doing before the end of the month inspired by chicken and waffles. Although this was the most non traditional chicken  and waffles I have ever seen, it was also quite good.  The fried chicken leg, glazed with teriyaki and waffle batter takoyaki and syrup was a nice suprisingly tasty lunch. And much like the other menu items at Maru, very affordable.

Maru Global
255 South 10th Street (btwn Locust & Spruce)
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Monday, October 4, 2010

  I will start with a bit of honesty. I have eaten at Silk City at least 200 times. It is conveniently located just 2 blocks form the fortress of solitude I call Bri-Bar. But even as much as I love my apartment, there are times when I need to eat and don't feel like cooking. Most of these times are attached to long night at work and the need for a kitchen that stays open late enough to feed me. I have eaten at Silk so many times that I usually only order off the menu of specials. I have had almost everything on the menu so many times I need to try new items. Like I said almost everything. A few months ago when pondering my dinner choice with some friends I decided on one of the 2 items I have never ordered, the fried chicken.
   I was in love with the first bite. How did so much time pass while I missed out on this hidden gem? As much as I complain about the lack of places in this neighborhood for soul food, I have never tried this dish. I had the chicken for the second time in September and was pleased to find it just as good. The jalapeno cornbread and chorizo green beans are just as tasty.
   If you are ever in my neighborhood you should make it a point to eat at Silk City. Great food, Great music, Great fried chicken.

The Skinny Fat Kid

Silk City
5th & Spring Garden
Philadelphia, PA

Wrong Side of the tracks..... (South Philly Tap Room)

 When I moved to Northern Liberties over six years ago someone issued a warning. They told me the downside of this or any neighborhood in Philadelphia was that I would stay in it too often. I scoffed at the notion much like I do with any such statement. There is no way you are going to tell me that with all the wonderful places in Philly to eat I will stay local too often. I will admit I was wrong. Although I do travel throughout the city and neighboring states packing in the calories, I spend a huge chunk of time near home. There is a reason some places are called neighborhood places.
  Quite often I find myself turning down invites for post work cocktails based on where people are going. I factor in taxi cost and travel time and sometimes the commitment to reward just don't even out. My South Philadelphia friends love their Grace, Royal and SPTR as much as I love my Silk City and North 3rd. None of us are wrong, but we are all a little stubborn. Having only been to South Philly tap Room for the most special occasions (pre- Eagles game brunch and the engagement of my little brother,) I was surprised to find there was another reason to head to SPTR.
   I am of course speaking of September's obsession; fried chicken. Chef Scott Schroeder has been getting a lot of well deserved props on his great menu. I lost count of the number of tacos I have eaten there while meeting friends. I recently started to hear more people talking about his fried chicken and decided to take the trip. the fried chicken is listed only on the specials menu, but I understand that it has become a staple there so you shouldn't have trouble getting it. There is also a warning that it does take time to prepare and advice on ordering some appetizers while you wait. I decided on the guacamole which was great and settled in with an Allagash. The word on the street about the fried chicken is correct. Crispy skin, and what has to be the best seasoned chicken I have so far.
   Other places have done a great job seasoning the flour or cornmeal coating , but at SPTR you can taste seasoning in the meat itself and the flavor in the brine shines through. This also one of the most generous portions I have gotten yet. I am a luck guy I must say. Although I have to narrow down the 5 best in the next week, The competition keeps heating up. I left SPTR with a full stomach after an excellent meal. Since it isn't often I get down to South Philly I will probably take in some culture as well. I hear they are lovely shows at The Dolphin.  

The Skinny Fat Kid

South Philly Tap Room

1509 Mifflin St.
Philadelphia, PA 19145

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Meet me at the crossroads.......... (Resurrection Ale House)


   I'll be the first to admit this place receives a lot of press. One publication even went as far as to say it is one of the top 10 places for fried chicken in the country. And just as it started to get all this praise the unfortunate happened. I spoke to a few friends who had tried stopping by on multiple occasions to find they were sold out. Sold Out????? On multiple occasions????
   I have never been known as a patient man. I was even considering skipping the place altogether. I had this horrible feeling that after traveling to the other side of the city to enjoy this treat, I would be told there was no chicken to be had. I pictured my head sinking as I walked away red in the face and empty in the stomach. I instead decided to go early after the opened for lunch to ensure the best statistical chance of deep fried nirvana. I must say I am glad I did.
   Resurrection Ale House is a small bar in Philadelphia's Grays Ferry section. I was amazed by the small size of the place, but I think it is the perfect bar. My dining companion often commented on how nice it was to see a place that was manageable instead of another mega restaurant. It is too often nowadays to see everything done in such large scale instead of smaller places where they just "nail it". I did also mention to my friend that if this place were in my neighborhood I would frequent it more often. Although most of the ale house's praise goes to its beer list and fried chicken the other dishes we tried were quite good as well.
   But lets talk chicken. Buttermilk and hot sauce soaked, seasoned with Lawry's and twice fried. The first frying is done to cook it most of the the way. The second perhaps inspired by pomme frites for final crisp. (Don't worry French Fry month is coming.) I cannot speak for the rest of the country, but I can say this is some of the best that I had in Philadelphia. I am happy that I got to try it and would go back for it as well as for the octopus and duck.

The Skinny Fat Kid

Resurrection Ale House
2425 Grays Ferry Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19146-2450
(215) 735-2202

Friday, October 1, 2010

Knick game/ big chain/ in all my splendor... NYC Part 2 (Dirty Bird To Go)

   Since I was doing a fried chicken tour of New York I decided to check out a tip from a chef friend. Dirty Bird To Go is a small store front on 14th street in Manhattan. A small chalkboard list a lunch special that they offer which is one of the best deals I have seen. For $8 you get to pieces of fried chicken, a side (I chose Garlic Kale) and a drink. I think the amount of food was more than generous and I would recommend this place to anyone. Great chicken , tasty sides and good cookies too. They use all organic Lancaster birds and they are serious about a commitment to the environment as well. If you are in NYC definitely stop by.

The Skinny Fat Kid

Dirty Bird To Go
204 W. 14th Street
New York, NY 10011
212 620 4836

Thinking Inside the Box (The fast food edition)

      Imma Need a Suit....... (Church's)

  Church's Chicken is average. I thought the crust a little heavy. I will say they do get the spicy thing right. I have had a few renditions of spicy fast food fried chicken and Church's was the most consistent.

     Fat By Popular Demand ....(Popeye's)

   This was disappointing. After hearing so much love for Popeye's and listening to The Clipse way to much I was excited. Excitement went out the window when I received my order. I picked up each piece of chicken and the skin pulled away. The resulting box of skinless chicken and my handful of greasy skin was not appealing to say the least. Although my visit to Popeye's in New Orleans beat the culinary mecca that is The Gallery, it still did not save the franchise. If you should ignore the diet advice of Pusha T and Malice however you may find the red beans and rice are a better way to go. 

     My Chain Heavy....(Crown Fried Chicken)

   There are people who will disagree with this assesment. Some even disagree with the idea of me eating fast food fried chicken, but Crown is the best fast food fried chicken. I am sure someone will tell me more about how heavenly "fresh Popeye's" is. Based on my experiences this month, Crown holds the crown.

The Skinny Fat Kid