Finding decent fried chicken in this part of the world is no problem. At The Chicken Place, the fried chicken is better than decent. Enthusiastically spiced, wearing a gossamer coat that tastes as rich as butter but feels virtually greaseless, the meat inside drips savory juices whether white or dark. This is chicken one wants in a picnic basket, on the dinner table, for breakfast — anywhere, any time.
Side dishes — a full Southern roster of beans, greens, fried things, mashed potatoes and mac & cheese — all are happy as supporting players: a nice break from personality-plus chicken, but nothing to swoon over. I do like mac & cheese’s texture, a variegated web of creamy-soft and chewy, but cheese taste itself is elusive. And the greens really want a good sprinkle of peppered vinegar.
The broad menu includes fried fish and shrimp, hamburgers (all the way, please), and a first-rate Philly steak. Beef for the Philly steak is cut into thick pieces that are as much chunks as they are slices. It’s fatted enough to glisten with flavor; and when combined with griddle-caramelized peppers and onions under a mantle of melted cheese, it’s a very winning package. It’s not Philly — the bread is soft (the way cheese steak fans around here like it); and the cheese is American rather than Whiz or provolone. But if you crave beef when you come to The Chicken Place, you will be very happy to devour this sandwich.
Located on the other side of the tracks (compared to the main drag), the restaurant is a fairly stark facility, its long, straight dining room reminiscent of a mobile home. Orders are placed and paid for at a counter, where a lot of business is take-out. Clientele appear to be mostly blue collar folks; prices are wallet-friendly.