Main Street Cafe – Collins, MS

If you’re ever near Collins, Mississippi at lunchtime consider stopping in at the Main Street Café. It is smack dab between I-49 and US-84 on Main Street (Highway 184) in Collins. They have an all you can eat buffet for $10 that includes your drink, and a wide selection of down home, Southern classics (a mess of peas, a pot of beans, fried okra, greens, gumbo, cornbread, a large variety of desserts and a salad bar). For the meat selection, they offer ribs, chicken and sometimes catfish. You need to get there by 2pm, though, as they are only open from 9:30am to 2pm on weekdays.

As you can see from my plate, I didn’t waste much stomach space on veggies. Their fried chicken is excellent. Very tasty and juicy, with crisp skin and a good seasoning. I got my money’s worth on fried chicken alone!

The tea is fresh, the servers are friendly and the food is quite good. I definitely recommend it.

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Dooky Chase’s Restaurant

IMG_9928As most of those who follow my restaurant reviews know, I really, really like fried chicken. Seriously — I like fried chicken. A lot. That’s why it hurts me to write this review.

Usually showing up in the Top 10 lists for fried chicken in New Orleans is Dooky Chase’s Restaurant. While I have tremendous respect for the contributions of Leah Chase to Creole cuisine and for their family foundation in cultivating and supporting historically disenfranchised organizations which make significant contributions to education, creative and culinary arts and social justice, I cannot recommend them. I was disappointed by the fried chicken, french fries (undercooked), dessert and service.

The fried chicken at Dooky Chase’s is nostalgic for me as it is the sort that would be served at my grandmother’s table. Basically just chicken, tossed in flour seasoned with salt and pepper and then fried. Unfortunately, just like hers, there was neither flavor nor juiciness to the chicken. The breast meat was dry. There are many other places in the city that do fried chicken better and for less. Two I can recommend right off are Willie Mae’s Scotch House and High Hat Cafe.

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Add that to the service being below expectations. While everyone was friendly and personable, we waited more than twenty minutes for our cocktails. I could excuse it on the place having two large parties but the table next to us, that was seated after us, had received their drinks and had bread on the table and appetizers served before our cocktails made it to ours. Then, through some mix up, we were served our entrees, a little more than ten minutes later our salads were finally served and then, about five minutes after that, we finally received the bread for the table. As two of us had to wait for our chicken to cool, the other diner finished first and had his plate cleared by the busers. While we were still obviously eating, the hostess came by and wanted to know if we needed to go boxes.

Consider going to Dooky Chase’s for their lunch buffet during the week for some of her Creole specials. In my opinion, going on Friday night for the fried chicken is not a good use of your money or belly space.

Sisters Kajun Kitchen – Lafayette

I was over in Lafayette today and finished up at the Mall of Acadiana for lunch time. Using Google Maps ‘explore nearby’ for ‘quick bites,’ we came across Sisters Kajun Kitchen just a little way down the road.

sisters kajun kitchen

I ordered the fried chicken. It came to the table piping hot and well seasoned with a nice, light coating. Very well done and I ate every bite. The mac and cheese was rich and creamy. A cut above average, this was not your usual macaroni and cheese.

fried chicken mac and cheese

Michelle ordered the Dylan’s Kajun Extreme Burger, based on all the reviews. It was a very large beef patty with grilled onions, tomatoes, lettuce and sauce on a very delicious sourdough bun. Juicy burger with lots of flavor to go with its mammoth size. She ordered the hand battered onion rings with it and they could have used a little rewarming but had a nice crunch and flavor to them.

dylans extreme kajun burger

Reasonable prices, good selection and very  friendly folks working there. An unexpected jewel on Johnston Street and worth a visit.

Elizabeth’s Restaurant in the Bywater

I’ve been to Elizabeth’s Restaurant for breakfast and for lunch so tonight I took some of my fellow authors from the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival there for dinner.

The only real illumination seemed to be candles but the atmosphere encouraged the trading of secrets in the darkness. They started us with corn bread muffins and that just whetted our appetite for more.

I ordered the fried chicken. It came with pickles to add a bite to the tender meat and crisp coating. Definitely in my top ten for fried chicken in the city. The mashed potatoes needed a little gravy but were otherwise delicious. The red beans and rice were a touch bland but some hot sauce fixed that.

fried chicken

Marie Castle had the lamb burger. Cooked medium rare, it was juicy and well seasoned.

lamb burger

Cindy Rizzo had the catfish and it just melted in your mouth. On Facebook, she posted – “Best.catfish.ever. Loved it.” My pesky camera flash made hash of the mashed potatoes but, trust me it tasted a whole lot better than it looks in this picture.

catfish

Lori Horvitz had the panned pork chop with brown gravy. Very well cooked chop and the gravy was lip smacking good. Again, the picture I took doesn’t do justice to the plate.

pork chop

I really enjoy my visits to Elizabeth’s. The food isn’t pretentious; it is just really good. The walls are covered with art from Dr. Bob (famous for those Be Nice or Leave signs you see about town), the staff is friendly and they don’t rush you. So give yourself a gift and get over there soon. Your taste buds will thank you.

High Hat

Michelle’s parents brought her down for a visit and we went out for some good southern cooking at High Hat Cafe on Freret.

I started with a strawberry mint lemonade. Awesomely cool and refreshing!

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It was fried chicken day, so we were was very, very happy. They use a little cornmeal in their batter and the taste is excellent. Add to that pimento mac and cheese and you’ve got a combination to make your taste buds sing.

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Yes, I will confess that I didn’t touch the greens. The plate comes with a lot of chicken and everyone but I had some to put away for the lunch the next day.

We have a very friendly server who shared with us the three rules of Cajun life. As they’re applicable to most everyone, I’m posting them here:

  1. When going down the river, don’t get too close to shore as snakes might drop out of the trees onto you.
  2. Always keep a paddle nearby to hit alligators on the nose when they get too close
  3. Don’t let any blood get into the water or those alligators will overturn the boat to get at it (and you).

I really recommend them – their menu is chock full of local delights done right.

The Country Club

Krewe of ChewbacchusWe went down to the Bywater yesterday evening ahead of the parade for the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus. We went for drinks and dinner at The Country Club. This formally clothing optional hangout has gone a little upscale but still offers a pool, hot tub, bar and restaurant with a casual, warm and welcoming environment that is accepting of all.

We started in the bar as they weren’t ready to serve dinner when we arrived. The bartender was friendly and had us laughing as he served large drinks. My margarita was delicious, Wayne was able to try a seasonal beer and my sister, Kathy, had a generous glass of cabernet.

We had much of the restaurant to ourselves but that was okay as we were able to chat comfortably.

I had the buttermilk fried chicken. While it had a terrific flavor, most of the coating came off. I’m not sure if they didn’t flour first or if their oil wasn’t hot enough but it was a shame to lose all the outside flavoring. The chicken was tender and juicy, though, and the mashed potatoes were very good.

buttermilk fried chicken

My sister had the shrimp and bacon pasta carbonara. It had very large shrimp and a delicious sauce. Much better than the picture shows. She even sopped up the remainder of the sauce with some of the french fries from her husband’s plate, it was that good.

shrimp bacon pasta

Her husband had the burger and it looked darn tasty with lots of cheese, mushrooms, red onion with house made fries. He really enjoyed it.

burger

Service was unobtrusive but quick with the refills of tea and water. The menu is eclectic with things for nearly every taste and it really is a unique place to hang out in New Orleans.

Coca-Cola Brined Baked Not Fried Chicken

IMG_20150201_180726I took a few liberties with Chef John Currence’s recipe from his book “Pigs, Pickles & Whiskey” for Coca Cola Brined Fried Chicken. First, I put in some rosemary instead of the thyme. Then, because yesterday was Superbowl Sunday and I wanted to watch the game, not stand over hot grease, I changed up his batter and baked the chicken instead.

This is one of the few times that I will actually use Panko bread crumbs for the added crunch. I brined the chicken in the morning and then coated it and put the pan in the refrigerator until game time. I pulled it out while preheating the oven and started it cooking before the first play and I had chicken for dinner at halftime that I ate off my Coca-Cola TV tray.

To kick this dish up a notch without adding many more calories, add some grated Parmesan or pecorino Romano into the bread crumbs. About 2 tablespoons should give you a rich cheesy flavor in your crust.

Coca-Cola Brine

1 chicken, cut into 8 pieces
3 cups Coca-cola (two 12 oz cans), room temperature
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Louisiana hot sauce (more to taste)
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, roughly chopped

Mix all ingredients very well and brine chicken for 2 hours.

Baked Not Fried Chicken

2 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons Kosher salt
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne
½ teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups Panko breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place a cooling rack over pan.

Season the flour with the next 6 ingredients. Place in a pie plate or shallow dish. In another dish, scramble the eggs with the olive oil. Place the breadcrumbs in another pie plate.

Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse and pat dry. Dredge the chicken through the flour, then the egg mixture and finally in the breadcrumbs, patting to make sure the coating has adhered. Set on rack in pan. For additional crisping, lightly spray the chicken with cooking spray.

Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until chicken is golden brown and cooked all the way through (165 degrees F on a meat thermometer). Serve immediately.