March 2017 Bar Bulletin
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March 2017 Bar Bulletin

Feasting on Arms and Legs — The Chicken Kind

 

How do you like your arms and legs? Before you answer that, let us tell you how we like them — fried … and made of chicken.

When it comes to fried chicken, the same local household names are often mentioned, so we decided to try an unscientific, blind taste test of “local” fried chicken to-go options, focusing on arms and legs (drumsticks, wings and thighs) and coleslaw, of course.

As a bit of an aside, the journey in acquiring all of the fried poultry for a Friday evening office gathering was an adventure unto itself. Crossing the Seattle roads into the Central District, Lake City and downtown during rush hour may have affected some of the “cook” time sitting in the back of a car.

There’s nothing like sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic while the tantalizing smell of fried chicken slowly surrounds you. One impatiently waiting, blind-taste-tester sent urgent emails to the fried chicken gatherers: “WHERE IS MY CHICKEN!” It was one of our most popular events of the month. In the end, all the fried chicken (and its drivers) arrived safely.

Our method: fried chicken to-go from the local gems of Ezell’s Famous Chicken (501 23rd Ave., Seattle; 324-4141; http://www.ezellschicken.com) and Heaven Sent Fried Chicken (1433 Lake City Way NE, Seattle; 363-1167; www.heavensent
friedchicken.com
). The ubiquitous KFC (2201 Fourth Ave. S. #343, Seattle; 621-1602; kfc.com) stood in as our third contender. We tried to include Ma’ono (4437 California Ave. SW, West Seattle; 935-1075; http://maono.springhillnorthwest.com), but it did not open until 5 p.m., which was an hour past the start of the office tasting panel.

We reserve the right to supplement our results at a later date. The expert panel of about 20 to 30 hungry officemates compared similar pieces of regular and spicy (only Ezell’s and Heaven Sent were available in spicy). We also compared coleslaw and buttery dinner rolls.

We rated the chicken for taste and crispiness (under blind control … for the most part). A few of our participants were frequent enough customers to our suppliers to know the difference and commented on the distinct chicken cuts, color and even aroma. One savant guessed just by looking at them. Written scoring and comments were completed before divulging the provenance of the fried chicken (the sources).

The results were surprising to many. Bluntly, the winner was the purveyor most of us expected. And the uniformity of the results gives us less to report. But that’s the point of blind taste-testing after all. For juiciest, Ezell’s edged out KFC with almost no votes for Heaven Sent. But keep in mind, the trek from Lake City to downtown is a long one at 4 p.m. on a Friday. But that was the only win for Ezell’s that afternoon, with KFC winning a commanding nod for crispiest.

Best spice was an even split, but with several comments to the effect that none of the chicken was particularly spicy (admittedly, there may have been some confusion on the labeling). But Heaven Sent got a slight edge in the comments favoring its chicken’s spicy flavor.

Apart from those two results, for each type of piece — wing, thigh and drumstick — KFC won the vote. Additional comments occasionally suggested the Heaven Sent drumsticks and thighs were dry. One explanation for KFC’s popularity may come from one of the comments suggesting it was the saltiest of the options — for many people salt may enhance the flavor.

Given the challenging conditions for this test (distant pickup and delivery downtown in a busy time of day), this may be considered a measure of which brand holds up well with a 30-minute-plus delay from pickup to eating. Tasting would undoubtedly be different if the chicken were consumed fresh at the source or soon thereafter. So, if our results do not match your own experience, consider this a test of which brand should hold up best for a picnic.

Finally, Heaven Sent rolls were the favorites even though they were not included on our “formal” survey sheets. KFC’s coleslaw won by a landslide. One person commented that Ezell’s coleslaw “had too much mustard,” and that Heaven Sent’s coleslaw “was better balanced,” but there was only one coleslaw to rule them all.

All in all, we consider this taste test a delicious success. As a bonus, we did not have to pull too many arms and legs to get the taste testers to feast on tasty fried chicken — no one turned down any of the three.

Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt is a multiservice, Northwest regional law firm with offices in Seattle, Vancouver, Portland and Bend. For comments on this article or to share your favorite places to eat or drink with the Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt attorneys, contact Derrick De Vera at 206-407-1513 or DDeVera@schwabe.com, or Cecilia Jeong at 206-407-1579 or CJeong@schwabe.com.


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