Lucy’s Fried Chicken 2218 College Avenue
Comfort food. It’ll cure what ails ya. No matter how sophisticated your palate, you should always be able to appreciate a serve of good down-home cookin’.
This sentiment is supported by the very existence Lucy’s Fried Chicken, the newest venue from chef James Holmes. Holmes is the man behind South Austin’s relaxed fine dining spot Olivia, which Bon Appetit named one of the top ten best new restaurants in America in 2009. Stripping back to classic Southern fare, Lucy’s menu is indeed dude food.
You can expect to find appetizers of frogs legs, rocky mountain oysters (testicles), gizzards and chicken livers. Make no mistake, I am not an offal girl. You will never spot me chewin’ on a chitlin’. Also on offer are deep fried deviled eggs, though the majority feedback I’d come across is that they sound better than they taste.
I met my friend Phil at Lucy’s on a particularly crisp wintery day. Forgoing the funky stuff, we selected a dish from the range of wood-fire grilled oysters ($13 for 6). Interesting combinations such as Austin (buffalo sauce & bacon) or Diablo (habanero butter & parmesan) tempted me, but we ended up setting for Texan – with wild boar chorizo, garlic butter and Texas cactus hotsauce. And they were exquisite.
Next up was the restaurant’s namesake, the basket of fried chicken ($9). This poultry came with a great deal of pressure, after all, if the whole venue is named for this dish the hope is that it’s spectacular. The thing you immediately notice is how dark the coating is. It’s not burnt, there’s obviously something in the ingredients or preparation that just results in a much darker shade of crust than any other fried chicken I’ve come across.
The coating was deliciously crispy, flaking away to reveal moist and flavoursome chicken inside. The fact is, there exists cheaper fried chicken in town just as (if not moreso) delicious than Lucy’s. Though, the setting and menu is far more refined than you might expect at your run-of-the-mill fried chicken joint. I would also hazard to guess that part of what you’re paying for is the quality of the actual chicken itself, which is significant.
For the sides, we chose the Mexican Coke sweet potatoes – conceptually simple, but completely addictive. You can’t taste the actual cola so much as a sweetness imparted into the rustic mash. The other side dish was the grilled red cabbage slaw, again proving how the addition of a simple step or ingredient can change the most pedestrian of dishes. The combination of sides really ramped up the comfort food factor of the meal.
Lucy’s are also renowned for their delectable pies which are the creations of pastry chef Taff Mayberry. The s’mores pie is a super sweet concoction of marshmallow, chocolate and graham cracker. I am also hanging to try out their Sweet Tea pie, a variation of the classic buttermilk Chess pie. Freakin yum, right? Mike Sutter (a personal hero of mine who ate 50 burgers in 50 days) published Taff’s recipe for the sweet tea pie on his site, so if you’re handy with the pastry brush why not give it a shot?
I’m a sucker for lemon meringue, key lime and just about any other tangy citrus pie, so it was a bit of a no brainer to choose the Lime Pie. The smooth, silky and tart dessert was the perfect refresher after the crispy, crunchy, salty chicken.
Oh and FYI – they also serve the majority of the Austin Beerworks range. Order the Peacemaker.
All in all, Lucy’s was a fun feed with a focused “down home” menu. Plus with a full bar, you can duck in for a cocktail and snack on some boudin or corn bread muffins with tequila butter. I recommend trying the more unusual signature dishes, they actually made more of an impression than the chicken did!