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Poultry

West Hollywood Lunch: Hot Chicken at the Hart and the Hunter

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Fri, Aug 30, 2013 at 10:20 AM

click to enlarge Hot chicken at the Hart and the Hunter - B. RODELL
  • B. Rodell
  • Hot chicken at the Hart and the Hunter
If any food obsessive were to make a bucket list of regional American dishes she ought to try in this lifetime, Nashville hot chicken would certainly be an important entry. Hot chicken, and particularly the hot chicken from Prince's Hot Chicken, was a cult food item before cult food items were common. Served simply on white bread with pickles, it takes the glorious combination of chicken and crispy coating one step further and adds heat. A lot of heat.

Now at the Hart and the Hunter, the modern Southern restaurant in the Palihotel, you can get chefs Kris Tominaga and Brian Dunsmoor's take on Nashville-style hot chicken at lunchtime. Their version also comes topped with pickles and on white bread, albeit a semi-sour bread with a chewy crust. The bird is marinated, fried and tossed in hot sauce. You can opt for dark or white meat.   

So, how does it stack up? For one, the chicken here is not anywhere near as hot as it is in Nashville. Which is possibly smart. The standard recipe for the paste used to make Nashville hot chicken is one part cayenne pepper to three parts lard. That's a lot of cayenne pepper. The level of spice is determined by how much of the paste is applied (usually right after the chicken comes out of the fryer; some restaurants add it before frying). But any version is hot. The well-known Southern chef Sean Brock has been known to give this advice to people making the pilgrimage to Prince's: Bring along a frozen roll of toilet paper.

Unlike lard-and-cayenne, hot sauce is more than just pure heat. So the Hart and the Hunter's version is salty, tangy -- and not super spicy. Still, it's a nicely fried piece of chicken, and the fantastic, slightly sour bread is a great accompaniment.

Spicy chicken is one of those things that's great in just about any incarnation -- I'm a horrible fast food snob, but I'd eat a spicy chicken sandwich from any drive-thru in America. For that reason alone, the hot chicken at the Hart and the Hunter is a terrific addition to West Hollywood's lunchtime offerings.

See also:

- The Hart and the Hunter Review: The Palihotel's Restaurant Gives Southern Food the Small-Plates Treatment

- The 9-Year-Old Food Critic Strikes Again: Liam Loves Hart & The Hunter


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