Price’s, Or Why the eating-chicken-takeout-on-a-hill set up should be a restaurant concept

7 Jan

Outdoor eating. The hot dog stand. Cotton candy. S’mores around the fire. Food outside has its own charm, and in most cases, I feel like a wayfaring traveler when it’s a la carte.

Soup Nazi (Courtesy of seinfeld-fan.net)

Price’s Chicken Coop is an experience in all 5 defintions, an ordeal. Seinfeld had “the Soup Nazi,” and while waiting, I couldn’t help but think that his brisk pace had traveled many miles and picked up some Southern charm along the way. While they’d never “refuse service for any reason,” the place does know how to keep the queue of business men, families, and first-timers (my included) moving.

It’s a cash-only counter with Sharpie-scrawled signs littering the ceiling and walls. The menu’s a basic menu that looks older thanfried chicken’s recipe with some DIY-Microsoft Word-typed amendments. Though they’ve got the gamut of fast food faves, it’s the fried chicken that’s been featured in best-of lists and has given the Camden Street nook its name.

I gave $8 and got a sweet tea and a personal pizza-sized box of the classic and colloquial “chicken dinner:” 1/4 white fried chicken, “tater” rounds, “slaw,” cornbread hushpuppies, a roll, along with a fork/ketchup/salt bundle packaged like a military ration kit. And loose change. If the military ate these instead of MRE’s, the United States could outfight and outslip the enemies, and instead of spreading abstract ideas about capitalistic competition, they could indoctrinate the ideas of Charlottean cooking.

It reminds me a lot of Hominy Grill, but the chicken here far surpasses the monstrous Big Nasty. It’s not as crispy as the sandwich, which is a plus when it comes to pieces. Sensationally tender and delightfully moist, the fried chicken is the great thesis statement. So great that multiple people could share a box because it does not seem possible to finish. Like 3. Or 4.

Winner Winner! (Photo Courtesy of Roadfood.com by Chris Ayers & Amy Briesch)

The sides made it a Thanksgiving-feast in a box. I especially like the cole slaw (I’m still learning the Tao of Southern cooking and labeling and stress the cole) with little pickle slices giving off a optimistic green. The hushpuppies were quite unlike any ones I have had. Instead of the dreadful stones that some places offer as free samples, these were lighter than the chicken and very moist on the inside. I think they were undoubtedly the second best part.

I went with an experienced friend who refused to get lost in the mob awaiting at the counter. She deftly dodged the crowd, followed the handwritten “use exact change” sign, and was away from the counter and contently waiting while I dawdled around.

There are no seating areas inside the building, and luckily, this area has a capricious winter with more ups and downs than Space Mountain, and today was one of those clearer and sunny days. Meals have the ability to bring people together, and just the right atmosphere, in this case, a grassy hill that vibrated when the train rolled behind, can make for what my friend called “an experience every human should have.”

A confused Price’s-visitor next to me at the counter wasn’t all there, and the cashier could tell but didn’t hold impatience with his uncertainty. She asked, “Is this your first time here? You’ll love it.”

She’s right.

http://www.priceschickencoop.com/

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