Playing Chicken


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It's always a gamble, an act of guts. You look at the words "fried chicken" on the menu and you just don't know. Because what you want is so specific: the crunch, the salt-and-pepper simplicity, the juiciness. You lock eyes with the server, making everybody a little uncomfortable, and ask, "How is the fried chicken?" with the same intensity with which Liam Neeson might ask, "Where is my daughter?"

First off, the waiter at Five Eleven (511 Second St.) is not rattled by interrogation and his intel on the Georgia fried chicken is solid ($21.95). A thigh, a leg and a breast arrive with a slope of smooth mashed potatoes, light rosemary gravy and kale with bacon fat. The free-range chicken is served truly hot, and the peppery crust delivers an audible crunch. If you are not careful, someone in your party who has chosen a salad or some kind of small plate will hear it. If he or she swoops in on your drumstick, don't despair. Even the breast is juicy and flavorful beneath its dark coating. Totally worth the gamble.


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