The Monster has traveled far and wide for finger-licking, soul-satisfying fried chicken. There was the little shack a couple hours outside of Nashville that only served fried chicken and a few homemade sides that GQ magazine recommended because the color of brown of their chicken was deemed the best brown in the world (by comparison, the best blue was a specific tailor’s bespoke suit on Saville Row). There was a ramshackle little spot in Lisbon, Portugal where the fried chicken was drenched in tangy lemon and oil that was the absolute only panacea for a wicked New Year’s Day hangover. There was Willy Mae’s Scotch House in New Orleans where it looked like the table had been served the Mount Everest of chicken the platters were so large and mighty. And there was Maurice Snack N’ Chat in Los Angeles where Maurice would do everything herself by hand (this could be a whole day adventure of waiting) and the fried chicken made grown men weep (at least this Monster).
So when The Monster heard Farmshop was starting up a Sunday fried chicken night like the revered Ad Hoc it was obvious this became a must do.
The last trip to Farmshop went something like this: wow is this salad small for $19. Like really small. Like annoyingly, insultingly small. Where is the rest of the meal? Is the meal hiding? Is the meal afraid to come out and play? Why is the waiter so mean? Does the waiter hate us? Where the hell is our waiter? How did the bill end up this high and The Monster is still starved? Did The Monster get charged for the two tables next to us as well?
Would the return engagement prove more memorable?
It’s a $46 per person tab (steep for sure for fried chicken but it didn’t stop the place from being jammed) and the set menu on the night The Monster attended looks like this:
Late Summer Antipasti: house made ricotta with tomato conserva; sweet and sour eggplant with toasted walnuts; shaved fennel with Windrose Farm grapes and soppressata
Tuscan Fried Chicken: Peacock Family Farms lipstick peppers with sweet corn and zucchini; filet beans with radishes, crème fraiche, tarragon
Vanilla Meringue: poached Frog Hollow Farm peaches with whipped cream and lemon verbena
And it proves delicious. A wonderful medley of fall tastes and flavors, it is served family style and there is plenty of food to go around. Along with a bottle of crisp Rose’ it’s the best of homestyle cooking mixed with the feel that one is on an amazing, glorious, hopefully never-ending picnic with the gods.
The chicken is a golden brown, crispy on the outside yet moist on the inside. The crust has notes of lemon and citrus and thyme that make it have more depth than many other examples of fried chicken that can get mired in a too simplistic recipe. This isn’t KFC where all you taste is the crunch and then some bone-dry meat.
The sides compliment the meal by adding true notes of sweetness (the corn) and acidity (beans and radishes).
And the dessert. The Monster does not often wax rhapsodic on dessert but this one hits the spot. It’s a simple take on the peach cobbler that might often accompany fried chicken without the overbearing sweetness often found in that dish. It’s light and airy and leaves one feeling almost as if they didn’t just gorge themselves on fried heart-attacks on bones.
The crowd is buzzing, the service is efficient, the food is fresh and vibrant. Given chef Jeff Cerciello worked at Thomas Keller’s side, the market-driven dinners he is doing at Farmshop may become a staple in The Monster’s life.
Why go? You too bow down to the lord they call fried chicken.
Monster rating: 4½/5 Monsters
225 26th Street, Suite 25
Santa Monica, CA 90402