Time for another Fried Chicken journey.
Stevie's Creole Cafe (Revisit)
Our last visit to the new Stevie's Creole Cafe showed enough potential that we wanted to go back and see if they could be consistent (and try new items).
They had just finished baking a new batch of Cornbread, hot out of the oven, so we decided to try this (and it's only $0.60 each, so it's not too much of an investment).
It was wonderfully very warm / hot, having that fresh out of the oven aroma. The taste was OK. It tasted like a standard Cornbread, but if you're in the mood for some, and they have a new batch, this might be worth adding.
Catfish & Shrimp Po' Boy with Fries:
One of the coolest things about Stevie's Po' Boys is their flexibility in letting you choose 2 different proteins for your Po' Boy. So we opted for their Catfish and their Fried Shrimp.
Catfish Po' Boy:
Their Catfish Po' Boy has a Cornmeal Batter, giving it a nice granular crunch. They mention they get their Bread from a local bakery, unfortunately it's a bit dry, but still somewhat pillowy. The other downside is that the Catfish has a muddiness to it (inherent in the Fish), but some kitchens know how to soak out the muddiness before serving; not so here.
Shrimp Po' Boy:
Their Fried Shrimp Po' Boy is better, with butterflied Shrimp (cleaned), and a nice crunchiness with the same Cornmeal Batter.
Overall, it feels a bit underdressed. We don't like things sauce-heavy, but the Po' Boys felt really sparse. I think Orleans & York and Little Jewel are more successful with their Po' Boys.
Their Fried Chicken overall still had a great crunchiness to it, but it lacked any crispness. The Fried Chicken Breast was still moist, and the brine / marinade permeated to the bone (great). Unfortunately, this time around, whoever was in the kitchen was a bit too heavy-handed with the Salt: It was much more salty than our last visit (which was fine).
Their Fried Chicken Leg & Thigh were very juicy and crunchy, really only brought down by the excess saltiness. Otherwise it would've been delicious.
Their Fried Chicken Wing was thankfully not obliterated into dryness like some of the places on our journey so far.
Red Beans & Rice:
Their Red Beans and Rice were OK. We were feeling like wanting something healthy, so we opted for that. The Red Beans were lightly salted, having a new stew-like flavor.
Mac 'n Cheese:
Their Mac 'n Cheese continues to be a bright spot: A nice balance of cheesy and creamy, and piping hot (unlike many places that premake and sell you Mac 'n Cheese that's just been sitting around developing a hard, lukewarm crust).
Stevie's Creole Cafe
5545 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90019
Tel: (323) 503-2318
Bouchon Bistro (Beverly Hills)
Bouchon Bistro (Beverly Hills) has been a hit-or-miss restaurant for us (more misses than hits), and having been burned by multiple other "Fancy (Upscale) Fried Chicken" offerings around L.A. (the dismal Farmshop (which otherwise is a great brunch place)), I've been avoiding going here.
But seeing the amazing golden-hued Fried Chicken pictures of @PorkyBelly's visit to Yountville's Ad Hoc, which Bouchon Bistro claims their recipe is based off of, and we finally decided to go.
Housemade Dinner Rolls:
It begins with complimentary Bread Service, their Housemade Dinner Rolls from Bouchon Bakery downstairs. These are served warm, lightly yeasty, and it is tasty.
Fried Chicken and Waffle (Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Bacon & Chive Waffle, Maple Syrup & Sauce Chasseur):
Their Fried Chicken arrives, and it looks nothing like the beautiful Fried Chicken at Ad Hoc in @PorkyBelly's pic. But the proof is in the taste:
There's a thick, heavy crunch from the Buttermilk Batter, but it's not too thick like some places locally. There's a scent of Rosemary permeating each bite (which is great), which reminds me of Chef Ludo Lefebvre's Fried Chicken bites at his pop-ups and when Ludo Bites Fried Chicken was just starting out (currently a shell of its former self).
Their Brunch Fried Chicken is only Chicken Breast, which is still moist, but a touch overcooked in parts (slightly dryish).
Their Chive & Bacon Waffle was a disappointment. Is it sad that Howlin' Ray's Waffle (something they decided to do on weekends to enhance their amazing Fried Chicken) is multiple orders of magnitude better than this? And at a fraction of the price?
The Sauce Chasseur was OK, a heavy roux-like taste. Dipping the Fried Chicken into it felt like it was muddying the flavors - You want to enjoy Fried Chicken in its pure, glorious form, not drowned in Gravy (but sometimes you want the Smothered style, so I guess this is an option).
Ultimately, the most egregious part of this is their price: You're paying almost $40 for ONE PIECE OF CHICKEN (with Tax & Tip).
To be fair their Dinner Price is strangely a better bargain, with 3 pieces of Fried Chicken for roughly $50 (after tax and tip).
Omelette (Forest Mushrooms & Gruyère Cheese Omelette, Served with Mixed Greens):
Their Omelette was light and fluffy, and an excellent version of one of the most overcooked items around L.A. The Mushrooms and Gruyere giving a nice balance of flavors.
Overall, Bouchon Bistro's Fried Chicken is a pretty solid version that's on the thick Buttermilk Batter side, more crunchy than anything. But the price makes it cost-prohibitive for a regular visit for some. I'd agree with @Porthos that this is a thicker batter-style Fried Chicken (it lacks crispiness), but I also agree with @TheCookie that this is a very respectable dish and tasty. I just wish it looked like @PorkyBelly's Ad Hoc version.
Note: Fried Chicken Only on Monday Evenings or Sunday Brunch.
Bouchon Bistro (Beverly Hills)
235 North Canon Drive
Beverly Hills, California 90210
Tel: (310) 271-9910
Fritzi Coop (DTLA)
Chef Neal Fraser is undoubtedly talented, the Chef-Owner behind Grace and now his flagship Redbird in Downtown L.A. When he started a new concept with Fritzi in the Arts District, I was hopeful it'd be a great lunch spot, picking up Rotisserie Chicken, some farmers market-driven sides, etc. Sadly, it was mediocre at best, with Chef Fraser clearly not in that casual kitchen running it (too busy with his flagship most likely).
It failed and was quickly flipped to being the 2nd branch of Fritzi Coop, except they added a real (battered) Fried Chicken to the menu, so off we went to try it, hoping for better results.
They offer 2 styles of Fried Chicken, Naked Fried (No Batter), or Classic Buttermilk Fried.
Naked Fried Chicken, Leg & Thigh:
Their Naked Fried Chicken is sufficiently crisped, but obviously lacks any crunch at all with no Batter. It is a touch too salty, but decent otherwise. Still juicy:
After a few bites it tastes rather one-note (salty brined Chicken).
Their Market Sides turned out to be all COLD side dishes. It was a bit of a shock at first, but it makes sense the more the meal went on and we thought about the business plan.
Pearl Couscous (Medjool Dates, Goat Cheese and Sherry Vinaigrette):
This was a cold side dish, but what made it inedible was the sheer amount of Goat Cheese slathered in. I love Goat Cheese, and I couldn't take more than 2 bites. None of our friends wanted to eat any more of this.
Their Fries are double-fried, which gives this a nice hefty crunch, but sadly, they were lukewarm, bordering on cold!
When I mentioned this to the server, she said she'd ask the kitchen about it. She came back and said they weren't making a new batch yet (uhm... so clearly they're making them in large batches and not to order). Even In-n-Out will make your Fries to order!
Classic Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Breast:
Then we tried their new Buttermilk Fried Chicken. Visually I could see this might be problematic. It looked splotchy, and dark, and it was slightly burnt crust on one side, but the other side had a different color(!).
This is a very thick, crunchy batter, heavy and greasy. The Chicken was overcooked and dryish.
Roasted Cauliflower, Romesco and Shallot Bread Crumbs:
Just heavy-handed, gloopy, oversauced Cold Cauliflower.
One item from the original Fritzi in DTLA was carried over here: Their Waffle Potatoes. They mash and shred their Potatoes and press it into a Waffle Iron, to make "Waffles" out of Potatoes. Sounds like it could be great, but because like everything else, they premake these, they came out lukewarm. And even worse, they tasted synthetic(!). Like something artificial was added; it was really off-putting.
Wanting to give Chef Neal Fraser's concept another try, we came back for another visit.
Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Leg and Thigh:
Wanting to try the other pieces / styles swapped, this time we ordered their Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Leg and Thigh instead of Breast.
First, notice how awful the Chicken looks (we were shocked):
I saw racks and racks of Premade Fried Chicken sitting in the kitchen in our first and second visits, and you can clearly see the rack lines sinking into the Chicken that's been sitting around.
Taking a bite, and it was THE saltiest Fried Chicken we've had on this journey, out of every single restaurant we've been to! It was inedible.
To make matters worse, on the Chicken Leg, it was slightly undercooked / raw:
Green Beans with Quinoa with Tahini Mint Greek Yogurt:
Never order this dish. I like Tahini, I like Green Beans and I like Quinoa. This dish was Green Beans drenched in this awful tasting Greek Yogurt "Sauce," that was pungent, sour and just unappetizing.
This was the best dish we had there, by far: Chicken Gravy (still salty, but edible), covering their Double-Fried French Fries. It was a better version of The Hat's Wet Fries.
We mentioned the undercooked Chicken and how it was too salty. They said they'd ask the kitchen about it. They ended up making a replacement (3rd try):
This looked really unappetizing and bad as well, but in a different way. But we tried it:
Oily, still very salty, nearly inedible! It was only slightly less salty than the complete salt bomb previous to this.
Naked Fried Chicken, Breast:
The Naked Fried Chicken Breast was also really salty this time. Much saltier than the last visit, but not as bad as their Buttermilk Fried Chicken. Still it was overcooked, and there wasn't any crispness at all this time!
Roasted Winter Root Vegetables with Arugula, Lemon Caper Vinaigrette:
The one side dish that actually wasn't heavy-handed, their Root Vegetables Salad was pretty tasty, slightly sweet from the Roasted Carrots and Turnips, the Arugula balancing things out with a subtle bitterness.
Their Tater Tots were lukewarm (surprise), but had a good crunch to them. I could imagine if they actually took the care to cook food to order, this might be excellent piping hot.
When I looked over into the kitchen on both visits, I could see them preparing the food, and it's very apparent that Fritzi Coop is nothing more than a glorified Fast Food concept:
They have rows and rows of pre-cooked Fried Chicken, sitting on racks. It looks like they might quickly re-fry the Chicken (or heat it up some other way), and then serve it quickly, along with pre-made, refrigerated (easy for serving multiple days in a row) Cold Sides (hence why everything is cold), and their Potato sides are also pre-made in large batches.
For something coming from Chef Neal Fraser, this is just disappointing all around.
We'll not be returning.
Fritzi Coop (DTLA)
814 Traction Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Tel: (213) 537-0327
Chef Suzanne Tracht has been putting out American classics at Jar for a while now. But they've recently added a Sunday Night Fried Chicken event.
We like Jar for that throwback, dark, romantic vibe. It's like something out of Mad Men or classic Hollywood movies.
Complimentary Bread Service - Sourdough Bread:
Their Sourdough Bread (from La Brea Bakery) arrives warm / toasty and it is delicious! There's something so good about toasty, warm Sourdough Bread with a little bit of Butter. Wonderful.
Unfortunately, their Moscow Mule is awful. It's not as bad as the disaster at Hatchet Hall (currently holder of THE worst Moscow Mule we've ever had in our lives (not a joke)), but this was pretty bad. Shocking considering how long Jar has been around, and the popularity of its bar area. It was just super heavy on the Vodka, totally unbalanced.
Artichoke Puree Soup:
Delicious! It was a smooth puree, and nicely balanced with the Artichoke flavors coming through, but not overly dominating the Soup. It was delicate, vegetal and nice and warming.
Buttermilk Fried Chicken:
Jar's Fried Chicken is a Buttermilk Batter, and it's only slightly crunchy, but has a thick layer.
It tastes just OK: Lightly seasoned, unrendered, flabby Chicken Skin underneath the Batter, the brine / seasoning just didn't permeate the meat much, and it was mainly Salt and Pepper.
It was generally moist, though.
Their Slaw Salad was sweet and tart, with a nice crunch from the Cabbage.
Biscuit and Sausage Gravy:
Humorously introduced to us as "Here's your Croissant" (it's clear that server didn't know much about the food), their Housemade Biscuit was crunchy and slightly dry, but very buttery.
Their Mashed Potatoes were excellent! Ultra creamy and smooth, it tasted luxurious yet comforting at the same time.
At $35 (+ tax & tip), this is only slightly cheaper than Bouchon, and while their Bread Service, Soup and Mashed Potatoes were excellent, the rest of the meal, especially their Fried Chicken was not.
8225 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Tel: (323) 655-6566
Tokyo Fried Chicken Co. (Revisit)
Wanting to give them one more try (and we were visiting other friends east of Downtown), we headed back to Tokyo Fried Chicken Co.
Sauteed Lotus Root:
This is overly sweet, saturated in a sugary sauce.
Mac and Cheese:
Thinking it would be better this time around, their Mac and Cheese is the same as before: A liquidy / watery Mac and Cheese, that's really heavy, and not very cheesy.
The Fried Chicken is pretty consistent like our last visits: It's a slightly crunchy batter, on the oily side, and there's a slight sweetness in the marinade. The flavors and marinade (and greasiness) just don't sit well with us (or any of our friends on this visit).
Their Fried Chicken Breast is juicy, but saltier than their Leg and Thigh on this visit.
Their Chicken Rice is fine, tasting of a soaked Steamed Rice, but it's not that bright poultry essence you'd get in a great Hainan Chicken Rice.
Tokyo Fried Chicken Co.
122 S Atlantic Blvd.
Monterey Park, CA 91754
Tel: (626) 282-9829
Howlin' Ray's (Revisit)
I've lost count on the number of visits to Howlin' Ray's by now , but for the sake of clarity, we wanted to go back and see how it compared. (21st Visit?)
Don't forget to ask nicely for some Fried Pickles if you go! Chef Johnny Ray Zone makes this off-menu item, and he needs to put this on the menu. It's so good!
Crunchy-crisp Fried Pickles give you a textural contrast, and it mellows out the Pickles' tartness.
Excellent as usual.
Fried Chicken Dark (Leg & Thigh), "Country" Style (Level 1 - No Heat) & Waffles:
Perfect crispy-crunchy Batter, wonderfully seasoned Chicken that permeates to the bone, juicy... excellent Fried Chicken!
Their Waffles are made fresh-to-order, and Chef Zone's Waffle recipe is just excellent. It's balanced, fragrant and the Waffles are toasty-crunchy-crisp!
Where so many restaurants think of Waffles as a throwaway item, or make them in batches, each Waffle is made-to-order, and they arrive piping hot and crisped! So good!
Make sure you eat them right away!
One note to people visiting for the first time: Try to eat Howlin' Ray's Fried Chicken fresh, on the spot. There's nothing sadder than our last visit, watching someone take away about 30 - 40 boxes of Fried Chicken To-Go. They were then organizing and separating them out and divvying them up with friends, who then took their batch to bring to their cars (this was another 20+ minutes of them just checking various boxes after leaving the restaurant).
If you take it To-Go, you're steaming the Fried Chicken (and Waffles if you ordered any), so it won't taste as good.
Chef Zone's Collard Greens are still THE best-tasting Southern-style Collard Greens I've ever had in L.A.! There's a warming, long-stewed, slow-cooked deliciousness about them. Made with Pork Belly, Paprika and other spices, it's a must-order!
Fried Chicken White (Breast & Wing), Level 2 "Mild" Style (Brush of Heat):
Delicious! For those wanting just a tiny bit of heat with your Chicken, give their Level 2 "Mild" a try. While Level 3 "Medium" is the sweet spot for me, we took it easy today. It's fragrant, wonderfully spicy (not heat-wise, but their blend of spices) and their Chicken Breast is perfectly cooked through, moist and juicy!
Looking back on all of these Fried Chicken offerings around L.A., and seeing what Howlin' Ray's does, the level of disparity between Howlin' Ray's and everyone else is so dramatic, it's baffling.
But you can see Chef Zone and his kitchen crew working when you enter (it's an open kitchen). I think heart, genuinely caring and wanting to make THE best Fried Chicken in the city, makes all the difference (besides Chef Zone's classically trained pedigree and experience working with Thomas Keller and Gordon Ramsey).
And when you consider you can get a quarter of a Fried Chicken (Breast & Wing or Leg & Thigh) for $9, or if you order half a Fried Chicken (all 4 sections that you can mix and match flavors for) for only $15, and it's just absurd how affordable it is, and it's the best Fried Chicken in L.A. by leaps and bounds.
Initial Hours (extended Hours will be added once they settle in):
Wed - Sun
11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Howlin' Ray's Nashville Hot Chicken
727 N. Broadway Ave #128
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tel: (213) 935-8399