Sunday, April 8, 2012

Lucy's Fried Chicken

Consistency is everything in the restaurant world. A patron who has good food at an establishment expects it to be that way (if not better) upon their return. Yes, there are occasional glitches, but for quality establishments, they are generally few and far between. In the four+ months Lucy's Fried Chicken has been open, I have heard various impressions through the foodie grapevine that swing in both directions. I finally had the opportunity to try it for myself.
Lucy's is located at the southern end of the trendy SoCo strip, actually on College Avenue, which juts off Congress and hits Oltorf. It is the site of a defunct Mexican spot, that the folks from Olivia snatched up and renovated, with seating both in and outside. We sat inside, and I started off with a 512 Wit on tap, and we worked our way through a lot of food!
I am generally not a raw oyster person, but these were delicious! Topped with hot sauce and wasabi tobiko (fish roe), the oysters were in very gnarly shells, and just had that sweet ocean flavor. The oysters were absolutely one of the best things we had.
The Chicks and Chips, chicken salad with homemade cayenne pepper potato chips was a mixed bag. I loved the crispiness of the thick-sliced chips, very crunchy and dark, but the cayenne pepper flavor was lacking on many of the chips. In fact, I tasted cumin more than I tasted cayenne. The chicken salad didn't have a whole lot of flavor, and they are using the dark meat. It could be so much more! A little celery, garlic, spicy mayo of some sort, SALT... it has the potential.
The South Austin Wedge Salad was also very good. Nice blue cheese dressing, certainly not from a bottle. The nuts were a nice twist to it.
Then there was the chicken itself -- we got the basket, which came with five pieces (great deal for $9)! (They also have a bucket of chicken that they say serves 4, but the grapevine says it feeds more like 6!) The chicken was very good -- thick, crisp skin, juicy and moist on the inside. For sides, cornbread stuffing and Mexican Coke sweet potatoes; unfortunately, neither proved to be very appealing. The sweet potatoes are just that --  SWEET.  If you're a big connoisseur of sweet pots with marshmallows on top, then this may be your thing. I love sweet potatoes, and I love sweet stuff, but this was too sickly sweet for it to really work as a savory side dish. The cornbread dressing also suffers from sweetness, as they're using a sweet corn bread instead of a savory. Just think what a buttery jalapeno cornbread with real corn in it could do here!
A friend of mine has eaten here frequently, and has had leftover pie, so I had previously had bites of the s'mores and shoofly pies, which were both really good. I'm always a sucker for key lime pie, so we had that and the sweet tea pie. I have always said a crust makes a pie. I like to bake, and I like making pie crusts from scratch (ideally with butter and leaf lard), so I appreciate the effort that goes into them. In both these cases, the fillings were fantastic, and the crusts were close to awful. The lime pie is described as having a coriander-wafer crust. What I tasted was an undercooked pie shell with way too much shortening in it, and apart from the shortening, no other flavor. It is nice that it has a whipped cream topping as opposed to a meringue, and again, the lime flavor was incredible. (I ended up just eating the filling, not the crust.) The crust on the sweet tea pie suffered from being way too thick, and also under baked. There wasn't a whole lot of flakiness to it because of the density. My friend swears she's had the lime pie when the crust has been delicious. I trust her food opinion completely, so again, where's the consistency? Who's making the pies?
Lucy's has had it's fair share of local media attention, and some national attention as well. There doesn't appear to be any shortage of customers, and from our recent visit, it's locals, people of all ages, and even out of towners who are catching on to the hip vibes. The negative feedback I had heard from people the past few months included burnt chicken (this came from two separate people, and one was told "that's how it's supposed to be" when they questioned it), to poor side dishes, to the pie crust issue. The positive feedback has been the chicken's great, as are the deep fried deviled eggs, and steak night (Tuesdays) was delicious. But not one person who I have heard feedback from said "everything we ate was fantastic," and don't you want to hear that in the restaurant business?

So the question is, does Lucy's have any interest in really improving the quality and consistency of their food across the board when they're seemingly cruising along as it is?

1 comment:

  1. I found the chicken and the deviled eggs to be excessively salty, and this coming from someone who eats sunflower seeds in ginormous bags daily. The elder manager told me it can be inconsistent on the eggs because they soak up salt so easily. I suppose it's true, as the chicken was salty but not grossly salty like the deviled eggs were. I had merely asked them to take them away but since they were uneaten they were kind enough to ask me the problem and to take it off my bill. Service goes a very long way with me.