Stroud’s makes the most delicious fried chicken in America.
It is fried in a heavy iron skillet and arrives at the table a shade of gold that is breathtakingly beautiful. Each piece is audibly crusty but not the least bit bready; there is just enough of an envelope of crust to shore in all the chicken juices. The crust itself is thin, brittle, and as flavor-packed as bacon, but in this case, with essence of chicken and spice. Once you crunch through it, juices flow down your chin and fingers and forearm: you are an unsightly mess, but you don’t care because the juices are ambrosia.
Mashed potatoes are fluffy-textured, with an intense flavor of pure potato. As you fork up big mouthfuls of these spuds you learn new respect for real mashed potatoes and new intolerance for bogus ones. The only way these lovelies can be improved is if you ladle some of Stroud’s gravy on them. It is zesty, pan-dripping gravy, redolent of chicken and powerfully peppered.
At the risk of sounding hysterical, we must tell you that the cinnamon rolls that accompany this meal are fantastic, too. Tasting more of yeast and cinnamon than sugar, they are big, swirly things with only the faintest hint of caramelized cinnamon butter around the base.
Expect to wait when you come to Stroud’s: first for a table, then for the chicken, which is pan-fried to order.
Note: There now are two other Stroud’s in Kansas, at 4200 Shawnee Mission Parkway in Fairway (913-262-8500); and 8301 W. 135th St. in Overland Park (913-499-0135)