It’s Hump Day…that brutal day in the middle of the week that puts only 2 weekdays behind you, and that painful push through Thursday and Friday ahead of you. And to top it all off, you’re hungry. There you are, sitting at your lonely desk at 10:30 am, plugging away in front of some dreary, softly-glowing computer screen…and all you can think about it is what you’re eating for lunch. You need a pick-me-up, something soul-satisfying, something indulgent. You need fried chicken.
For many Little Rockers, Wednesday always seems to churn up thoughts of fried chicken. Why? Probably because two of the city’s best representations have pitted themselves in a “Wednesday-only” lunchtime fried chicken feud. In one corner, we have the near-legendary, reigning champion at Capital Bar & Grill. In the other, the relative newcomer, the lunch special at South on Main. Here’s the breakdown:
Capital Bar & Grill: Know this…if you’re intent on snagging some fried chicken from this hotel restaurant, you’d better plan on getting there early (at least, don’t show up at 1 or 2 pm expecting some bird to still be available). The lunch plate at CBG has been through some changes over the years, but regardless of the fixins’ accompanying your chicken, it remains a serious crowd pleaser. The men and women in business suits and dress shirts come piling though the Capital Hotel’s doors every Wednesday in order to snag what many consider to be the best fried chicken in town. It’s a simple, no frills preparation…but it’s perfectly done. Golden batter coats tender, juicy meat…every bite rings in your head with sound of crunchy, crispy fried chicken skin. The sides are good, too, and complement the main dish perfectly. Here you’ll find a large serving of tender red potato salad coated in a creamy, herbaceous white dressing and a handful of sautéed string beans. Darn near perfection on a plate.
South on Main: You’ll typically find the more familiar, home-style dishes represented on SoM’s lunch menu…things like chicken fried steak, patty melts, and pulled pork sandwiches. But it’s their Wednesday “blue plate special” that’s really gathering some attention. They use locally-raised Falling Sky Farms chicken, a high quality bird to begin with. It gets coated and fried, coming out crisp and delicious. But SoM takes their chicken a bit further, topping it with a fantastic sweet and slightly spicy pepper jelly. This jelly is a perfect counter to the saltiness of the bird. To wrap things up, they throw the whole thing on a bed of gorgeous macaroni and cheese. And this is some seriously good mac and cheese, too. Thick, plump noodles coated in a rich, creamy yellow cheese sauce…it’s a standout even when not accompanying the chicken.
So who gets your vote in Battle Fried Chicken? Capital Bar and Grill or South on Main. Both excellent plates of food, both worth sampling. But as you’ll only find both on Wednesday, you’ll have to choose which to eat this week…and that’s no easy decision.