Monday, February 28, 2011

BiteDown! Whiskey Kitchen vs. At The Table in Chicken and Mac-n-Cheese Face-Off

Posted By on Mon, Feb 28, 2011 at 5:44 AM

Whiskey Kitchen hot chicken and chipotle mac-n-cheese
  • Whiskey Kitchen hot chicken and chipotle mac-n-cheese
The hot chicken and mac-and-cheese called directly to me from the "Chef's Specialties" section of Whiskey Kitchen's menu.

"Southern-style iron skillet fried chicken breast, local market veggies and creamy chipotle mac & cheese," it read. I know, right? Worth $13, probably.

And behold how lovely. Crisp, rugged panko-crumb crust and a promising deep-red hue.

The way home goes right past At The Table, the cheap, cheerful and competent spot on 12th Avenue, so I stopped there for ... chicken and macaroni-and-cheese.

Fried chicken and mac-n-cheese from At The Table on 12th Avenue South
  • Fried chicken and mac-n-cheese from At The Table on 12th Avenue South
At The Table's chicken is traditional meat-and-three style: coated and deep-fried. Dark meat or light, and I prefer dark. The mac and cheese is the fluffy-baked rather than creamy-sauced variety. You supply your own heat with a pepper grinder or hot sauce from the table. There was also a hotwater corn pone. Yes, there was. The bill: $6.

Both kitchens turns out perfectly cooked food. Both places put a lot of thought into the recipes. Value matters a lot, and so does choice. WK's hot chicken was undeniable moist, crunchy and pleasantly warm in the spice department.

I split the decision, tilting toward At The Table. At The Table's mac-n-cheese has better texture, is more challenging to make, and has a more traditional, more Southern and less cheese-intensive character. On the other hand, if Whiskey Kitchen offered a hot thigh, it might have won.

On the third hand, there's no denying the power of a corncake to sway a judge.

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