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Kickin' Chicken 

Hot Chick, by Eat Restaurant Partners, makes its debut next week.

click to enlarge The Bad Mutha Clucka, with two layers of hot chicken, slab bacon, ranch slaw, honey mustard, pickles, spicy ranch and Muenster cheese, is the heftiest sandwich on Hot Chick’s menu.

Scott Elmquist

The Bad Mutha Clucka, with two layers of hot chicken, slab bacon, ranch slaw, honey mustard, pickles, spicy ranch and Muenster cheese, is the heftiest sandwich on Hot Chick’s menu. 

This chicken is no fast food — whether that means it's fit for a president may be up for debate, but we'll certainly take it.

Hot Chick, the newest endeavor from the team behind Wong Gonzalez, Foo Dog, Pizza and Beer of Richmond, and Fat Dragon, is all about the chicken — fried chicken, grilled chicken, Buffalo chicken, chicken tenders, chicken wings and chicken gravy. But front and center is the restaurant's namesake: the Hot Chick, a sandwich inspired by Nashville hot chicken.

Classic Nashville hot chicken is precisely what it sounds like, the bird's got some spice. This particular sandwich features a chicken breast with a spicy dry rub, fried to a golden crisp and topped on a bun with dill pickles and light, fresh ranch slaw.

Hospitality manager Chris Staples says the sandwich is "spicy AF" (that's "spicy as fuck," to be clear) and claims it will soon be known as the best chicken sandwich in town. But if chicken that will send smoke pouring out of your ears doesn't strike your fancy, there's plenty more on the menu, like the Cali Chick sandwich: grilled chicken, Muenster cheese, napa cabbage, tomato, guacamole, bacon and ranch. Starters include fried chicken skins, bacon-fat waffle fries with fried sage and Parmesan, cheddar biscuits, and fried pimento cheese.

For lighter fare you'll find three salads, and sides include potato salad, creamed corn, mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts. A section of the menu dubbed Creative Comforts includes Buffalo chicken macaroni and cheese, chicken and waffles and Chez Love's Special, affectionately titled after chef Mike Lindsey's nickname: a waffle, four-cheese macaroni and a fried chicken tender dipped in Memphis Sweet Heat, a vinegar-based hot sauce.

Lindsey hails from North Carolina, hence the Southern-focused menu.

"The menu starts in Nashville and finishes in North Carolina," Staples says. "It goes everywhere in between, so it's got a little bit of Texas, Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina. It's all those fried chicken concepts kind of rolled into one."

An extensive drink menu features house cocktails, craft beer and wine. A weekday happy hour will offer $4 rail drinks, $6 wines by the glass and $1 off bottles, cans and specialty cocktails. Desserts include banana pudding, a loaded waffle and Nightingale Ice Cream Sandwiches with honey-maple ice cream and waffle chunks. They're not on the menu yet, but Staples says to expect other sweets along the lines of Cheerwine floats.

The name of the restaurant, Staples says, is all in good fun. It's a play on the menu's focal point, and it's also a reference to the alleged history of Nashville hot chicken.

Legend has it that the great-uncle of the original hot chicken restaurant purveyor in Nashville chose to spend a Saturday night with another lady. The next day, to remind him who's in charge, his wife smothered the Sunday chicken with eye-popping chili powder before frying it up. Turns out the punishment was more of a pleasure for him, thus launching a decades-long Southern obsession with the fiery bird.

"So it's the hot chicken, and also an angry woman," Staples says. "There were all these things about the story that we really enjoyed drawing upon."

After a series of trial runs with friends, family and industry folks, Hot Chick opens on Wednesday, Jan. 23.

Hot Chick
7 N. 17th St.
596-9988
hotchickrva.com
Mondays - Thursdays 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Fridays - Saturdays 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.
Sundays 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

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