Palms Krystal Bar and Grill

Review by: Jess Dawson

In 1936, Beverly and Ruby Osborne were driving west to escape the Depression. Their Ford pickup hit a bump in the road, causing their chicken to fly out of its basket. Ruby commented on the “chicken in the rough,” and a million-dollar idea was born. Once in 250 franchises across the country, Chicken in the Rough is now a rarity. Palms Krystal Bar and Grill is the last place in the U.S. to serve it. (Two remain in Canada.)

The bar has barely changed since it opened in 1936. It’s one of those places you aren’t quite sure of until you step inside and see long-time patrons happily chatting and tucking into chicken dinners. My mom and aunt grew up in Port Huron, and were regulars at the take-out window (“two bags of French fries, please!”).

We start with fried gizzards and livers — the Half and Half — which takes 20 minutes and arrives piled high atop a thick piece of white bread. Some have toothpicks for easy eating, and you can tell the difference by the variation in color (the livers are deep brown). The texture of the liver is very soft (not my thing), but the gizzards are like a rich piece of dark chicken meat, lightly breaded and salted. You can dip them into cocktail sauce, but I like them better on their own.

Then comes coleslaw, fresh and creamy, best eaten with a shake of the Old Bay-esque salt that’s on every table. I also recommend a side of chicken noodle soup, which is hearty and salty. It’d be just the thing for a cold (or a cold day).

Next: Chicken in the Rough, served with shoestring fries. The chicken is not greasy at all: You taste the meat, not the oil. Douse it all in malt vinegar and eat everything with your hands for the full experience. Another family favorite is the pickerel fingers, named for their finger-like shape. Fresh-water pickerel is lightly breaded and deep fried. The result is light and flaky, best with malt vinegar and a sprinkle of lemon, or a quick dip in the creamy tartar sauce. 

We also get the ribs, which aren’t as tender as we’ve had. With it, though, comes deliciously moist, Memphis-style pulled pork, scooped onto the plate in a big pile after being tossed with a sweet, satisfying barbecue sauce.

Dessert options range from fried Snickers and Twinkies to apple streusels and lindos. We get the lindo, which is like a fried tortilla wrapped around apples and served with whipped cream. It satisfies the post-dinner sweet tooth, but isn’t why you come here.

It’s the fries. The chicken. The pickerel fingers. It’s the atmosphere, and the decades-long tradition of sitting around and chatting with family over a good meal. It’s talking to the owner, who giddily whips out a picture of the bar’s first chef, Miss Hattie. The one who served your mom those shoestring fries back in the 50s.

What To Eat

Half and Half

Chicken in the Rough

Pickerel Fingers

Cole Slaw Side

Chicken Noodle Soup

BBQ Plate

Apple Lindo


Palms Krystal Bar and Grill Recipes


What do you think of Palms Krystal Bar and Grill?

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