Fried Chicken the Right Way
About three years ago I experienced the best fried chicken I ever at a Sunday Dinner Club dinner. It set the standard by which I would measure fried chicken - crispy chicken skin sealing in juicy and moist chicken meat. The chicken was served with a corn cake and a dollop of honey butter. The honey butter was originally meant for the corn cake, but the Sunday Dinner chefs accidentally discovered the deliciously pairing of the butter and chicken. I would use up every bit of that butter on my chicken and wished for more. After that first dinner, I longed for the next one. It left a lasting memory and every fried chicken dinner I attended brought an absolute smile to my face. So when Chefs Joshua Kulp and Christine Cikowski announced their plans to open a restaurant centered around this delicious chicken, I was pretty ecstatic. After a long and highly anticipated wait, I was finally able to experience Honey Butter Fried Chicken in its new home. After a couple of visits, I offer my perspective on how to experience the deliciousness.
Early Bird Gets the Worm
Do expect a little bit of wait, but the line moves pretty quickly. If you get there earlier, the line is not as long. While in line, I usually like to take a look at the menu to plan my ordering strategy. So when it comes time to order, I am not wasting time figuring things out. There is a lot to digest when there are specials, so I do not like to be rushed. You can also order a cocktail from the bar to make the wait more enjoyable.
What makes these birds stand out is that they are cage-free, antibiotic-free, and locally sourced Amish-raised chickens. The chickens are butchered in-house, while de-boning the thigh and breasts, leaving the drumstick as is. The carcass, bones, and rest of the chicken are then cooked down for stock, which is then used for side dishes. The chicken is prepared in a brine of salt, sugar, spices, and citrus. Following the brine, the chicken is double battered in buttermilk, fried, and sprinkled with smoked paprika and salt. Dip that in honey butter and you have a mouth full of goodness. You can find a bottle of Co-op Sauce for extra heat - I highly recommend this add. You can choose from a 2, 4 or 8-piece chicken, which all come with a corn muffin and side of honey butter. A chicken meal is also offered for the kiddos.
The Sides Shine Bright
Not to be forgotten, are the great selection of sides. In addition to regular menu offerings such as the pimento mac’ n cheese, make sure you check out the daily special offerings. On my first visit, my husband and I had chicken tostadas and Chinese broccoli with goat cheese. On a return visit, we went a little side-crazy, ordering nachos (with chicken confit, candied jalapenos, chili corn salsa, and homemade chips), creamed corn with Thai green curry, pickled cauliflower and green beans, and glazed chicken wings (with honey butter and chili glaze, served with Goddess dressing).
For the Sweet Tooth
If you are like me, you will probably make sure to get dessert. Two desserts are offered, a chocolate toffee cookie (made with Terry’s Toffee) and the Dump Cake. I will just put it out there that the chocolate toffee cookie is my new favorite - hands down. If you do not like sharing, I highly recommend that you order one for yourself. The Dump Cake was sold out on both of our visits, which I am told is tastier than the name sounds - a baked cake with farmers market fruit. Next time.
A Great Sip
Honey Butter has put together a great line-up of thoughtfully crafted cocktails, wines from Vinejoy, beer, and fountain sodas, and Rare Tea Cellar teas.
A Great Neighborhood Addition
The wait was worth it and Honey Butter provides a great offering for the Avondale neighborhood. Whether you dine in with friends (check out the spacious outdoor patio) or order take-out for an evening in, they have you covered. During a couple conversations with people regarding the opening of Honey Butter, I was met with doubts that a fried chicken restaurant could be considered healthy. I responded that I would rather have fried chicken prepared in a sustainable way than what would be the alternative. Who can argue with that?
Photo credits: Christine Cikowski, Rachel Brown (sides)