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Food Fanatics Weigh in Early on Hill Country Chicken

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Hill Country Chicken, the new sister restaurant to Flatiron barbecue spot Hill Country just opened last Wednesday at noon and already tips and early reports are coming in fast and furious. Is it everything New Yorkers require, nay, demand in a fried chicken? Is it worth the cost? How about the lines? How does the retro decor fit into the equation? All these questions and more will be answered in the following edition of Good News/Bad News:

The Good News: Like other early filers, Midtown Lunch calls the place overpriced. But it's also pretty damn good: "And even though you are much more likely to a score a filling meal for under $10 at Hill Country Chicken, don’t expect the prices to compare to, say, 2 Bros or the now shuttered Piece of Chicken. (Seriously, don’t.) That said, if you want some really good chicken and are willing to shell out loot for it – and still stay under $10, you can do it and still manage to fill yourself up. Not surprisingly, the line was out the door opening day. I stood behind Jeffrey Steingarten while he grilled the staff at the door to find out if any of his connections were there to let him skip the line entirely. They weren’t, so he bailed...The Mama El’s recipe has a layer of breading that rivals any chicken skin you’re likely to find nearby. It’s crisp and made up of thousands of tiny bits of fried batter fragments." [ML]

The Great News: Gael Greene deems it a win: "..the plump, moist, buttermilk-brined birds from Bell and Evans can hold their own in fast company. Grandma El’s skinless parts with a secret spicy coating is luscious though too salty for my taste. Our French amis think I’m crazy to mention it. "Salt? We love salt.” I prefer the Texas classic, densely, deliciously crumbed, skin and all. Maybe it’s not the paragon of greasy richness Gabriel dishes up but the bird itself wondrously moist and rather elegant...And the sides - $2.50 for a small cup, $5 for the large - are marvelous.' [IC]

The Fine but Overpriced News: This thorough report from comes a tipster: "I got in line yesterday at noon and was pleasantly surprised by the large space and a set of stairs that may or may not have led to another dining area. I was sad to see chicken sold by the piece and looked around for a combo chicken meal somewhere on the menu board, with no luck...and while walking through the line to get my food, I was enthusiastically upsold 4 times. Yeah, about that $5.50 for a breast, come on now. Thats just highway robbery. I opted instead to get a $3 thigh (Hill Country crust) and a wing (Mama El's crust). The Hill Country crust beats the other by a long run. Its got nice heat and enough salt. The Mama El's is made with some sort of cracker crust that has neither flavor or crunch (esp. after I took it to go back to the office). The biscuit was decent but not like Great Jones'. And it needed honey and butter. I ordered the creme brulee pie cup for $3! Its affordable, its delicious and its enough pie to sate the most indecisive of craving.! Graham cracker crust wtih creme brulee on top with freshly torchiered crunchy burnt sugar. There were half a dozen other varieties of pie that looked excellent to try. $10.53 for all of the above." [Eater Tipline]

The Too Slow News: An impatient reader sends in word to the tipline: "Was there today around 1:30 PM. Wait was PAINFULLY slow. Ended up walking out after 10 minutes on line. It's only chicken. C'mon. Too many good places to get good food in this city without having to wait forever for a drumstick!" [Eater Tipline]

The Mixed Bag: Another tipster enjoys half his food: "I ordered a drum stick - this was delicious, the batter was great and crunchy, the chicken moist and flavorful...I also ordered the Texas Hand Roll. What a disaster. Essentially, it's a tortilla (fresh out of the refrigerator) slathered with a spicy jelly of some sort, 1 chicken tender, cole slaw, sesame seeds, and shaved almonds. None of the flavors work together, the cold tortilla and the tepid chicken tender didn't really do it for me.." [Eater Tipline]

The Bad News: In six days, 17 Yelpers have filed reviews. On average, people think it's just okay. Here's someone who wasn't won over: "I had planned to get a chick breast $5.50, a biscuit $1, cheesy fried mashed potatoes (sm) $2.50, and a piece of lemon meringue pie $5. They were out of biscuits (for the night!), had to wait until they cooked some more chicken, and they were out of all the pies!...Didn't care for the chicken either. I don't know, the crust seemed almost burnt. Overall, not impressed. Spent $8.71 for a chicken breast and a pretty small side." [Yelp]

The Enthusiastic News: And here's a Yelper fan: "The banana cream pie here is one bad mother. But you may be here for the fried chicken. As someone who knows both the Texas Hill Country and good fried chicken, I'm glad to say it did not disappoint; tasty fried chicken done one of two ways, both equally good (I tried a sample from each variety, a breast and a thigh). The Hill County Classic is skin-on, flour-coated; Mama Els' is a skinless chicken with a crispy crust. Both are brined and juicy inside. A bit pricy, though." [Yelp]

The Worth the Wait News: Menupages users are, so far, blown away: "I had been waiting and waiting to try this place after reading about it months ago. The food is delish! I ordered the classic HC fried chicken(im a white meat lover) and it was very juicy and had a nice burnished color to it. I was trying to ID the seasonings on the chicken(seemed to be salt, pepper, garlic, paprika, and rosemary and maybe a touch of cayenne). I got some of the yummy fire and ice pickles and a side of the crazy good fried cheesy potatoes. Being a pie lover, I had to get a slice of the salted margarita(wanted to get coconut for my coconut lover dad but they were sold out). Will prob be eating my slice of pie in a little while lol...most likely will be back there again and prob start pillates again to enjoy this place..." [Menupages]
· All Coverage of Hill Country Chicken [~ENY~]

Hill Country Chicken

1123 Broadway, New York, NY 10010 (212) 257-6446 Visit Website

Hill Country Chicken

1123 Broadway, New York, NY