Hill Country Chicken really wasn’t what I had expected. The cute, ‘50s farmhouse décor, plenty of open seats and an abundance of choice, not a single item sold-out, were all pluses. My restaurant pessimism over newish restaurants was squashed flat.
I wouldn’t say that the heat lamp setup is kind to the fried chicken, though. Pre-Willie Mae’s Scotch House visit, I would’ve been fine with this dark, denser, paprika-heavy approach (the Mama El’s style with a crushed cracker crust is actually pretty tasty, but for me the skin is the whole point of frying poultry) but now I’ve been spoiled by a lacier, golden version that will satisfy after only one thigh. Of course, Hill Country would certainly fix a Manhattan fried chicken craving if New Orleans isn’t in your immediate future.
Sides are perfunctory. I’d rather fill up on the fried pimento cheese sandwich, shown wrapped in red-and-white gingham paper in the back. The crisped treat is salty, gooey and not greasy in the least.
Cut into quarters for sharing.
I think I liked the pies more than my tablemates, as it came out that they are cake people. I like pies of all sizes; shrunken ones with more crust to filling ratio don’t even bother me the way it does others. Then again, I also like more cupcake than frosting and more bagel than cream cheese. My choice, the bourbon pecan, didn’t have much whisky flavor or sick corn syrup sweetness that I want in my southern-style desserts. The peanut butter chocolate and special of the day, a mash-up of chocolate and butterscotch chips, walnuts, coconut and condensed milk like an Eagle magic cookie bar in a pie shell, more than made up for the pecan pie’s relative austerity.
The only true downer was the lack of a liquor license. One-third of my group was very interested in the watermelon wheat beer listed on the menu, the other third doesn’t drink and me, I loathe melons but could’ve stood a beer or two. I will admit that the Boylan fountain drinks with unlimited refills (at least no one was monitoring return visits) was pretty cool even though I don’t drink soda. Never having developed a taste for pop, it’s the only food (is it a food?) I can be self-righteous about (please don’t take away my fat or alcohol) and probably why I don’t get the uproar over proposing no soda purchases with food stamps. Is fizzy fructose a want or a need? When I got food stamps decades ago, I bought crazy shit like smoked salmon and hot cross buns, so who am I to say?
Hill Country Chicken * 1123 Broadway, New York, NY