by Steven Doyle
Fried chicken is definitely one of the hot items this year in Dallas and plenty of chefs have tossed their toque into the ring opening their own restaurants in homage to this southern staple. Enter Fat Chicken in Trinity Groves which is owned by DJ Quintanilla and Linda Mazzei who formerly ran Resto Gastro Bistro in the same location.
We asked chef DJ why the big change up and he shared that it was Trinity Grove’s mastermind Phil Romano’s idea, but he was up for the task.
Look for a menu with all the proper accouterments including the fried bird, chicken sandwiches, a heavenly pot pie, chicken tacos and fried chicken and donuts. There are plenty more items on the menu, all related of course. Bless us all for those divine deviled eggs made with Applewood bacon, chives, paprika, cayenne pepper and a cherry pepper.
At first bite the fried chicken tasted extremely familiar. The crust is light and not overly thick with spices. It wasn’t a giant piece that has become so prevalent. The meat was juicy and full of flavor. There is a reason for all of this. Chef DJ uses a kicked up buttermilk bath for all his chicks, marinating them for three days before he considers a light coating with his secret spices. Actually, they are not secret – he told me the recipe while I was chomping a wing but I was busy. Chomping a wing.
Chef DJ procures his chicken from a specialty farm that raises his hens per his specifications. That means no oddball Frankenstein injections that create monster pieces. A chicken thigh should never be as large as a child’s head.
All this makes for the perfect bite that reminds me of my dear great grandmother’s fried chicken down on the farm. This is precisely what Fat Chicken is supposed to be. A throwback to simpler times without all the crazy chef madness that can often be infused into simple dishes.
Now you want crazy? Chicken and Donuts. Sounds bizarre at best, and nothing like your waffle option that the good chef refuses to make. Instead he offers these freshly made donuts (made to order along with that chicken) that beat out any donut factory you might encounter in Dallas. Seriously good glazed donuts served along side shanks of chicken tenders. More blessings.
Sides are not an afterthought, and please allow me to discuss the mashed potatoes and brown gravy (cream gravy is available for those who desire). Between each bite of chicken I took multiple forkfuls of mashed potato. The large bowl of whipped potatoes were damned addictive. Cole Slaw was kicky good with a mild Sriracha spice.
A few things to also mention would include DJ’s Chickarrones. These are planks of chicken skin that are fried and dusted with a bit of Buffalo wing spice and served with a side of cooling ranch. Addictive and recommended. Also, if you have room sample out the Korean chicken, which is light and airy (as it should be) served with Korean chili paste, sweet horse radish pickles and sticky rice.
Not into chicken, you can still order up a steak. You remember DJ’s steaks from Resto, he still makes those. And a burger, too.
We love the well-rounded menu that Fat Chicken offers. We even more appreciate the pie cart that Fat Chicken offers. The pies are classic if not over-the-top. Order a mess of pies for the table to sample but please do yourself a huge solid by including the coconut cream in the mix. It has a beautiful coconut crust that will make your toes wiggle.
Look for a few nights of excitement that includes Monday where they are serving up Cheep Chicken. Stop by or call in for your 8 piece bucket, biscuits, coleslaw and choice of one side for twenty bucks.
Friday night they play Chicken Poop Bingo. This is where they have a live chicken meandering in a large cage. Participants place $2 bets on which number the chicken does his thing. Winner keeps the pot. Sound like gambling? Maybe, but it is fun.