Tuesday, December 20, 2011

First Bite: Bolton's Spicy Chicken and Fish on Murfreesboro Road

Posted By on Tue, Dec 20, 2011 at 8:02 AM

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I know there are a lot of Bitesters out there who love them some hot chicken. Admit it, though, you wish it wasn't such a huge hassle to drive all the way to Prince's and then wait an hour from when you get in the door until the actual painful pleasure begins. Even Bolton's in East Nashville requires proper timing if you intend to get a spot at one of their scarce tables in the tiny dining space. While carry-out is always an option, hot chicken is a treat best enjoyed in situ for several reasons.

First of all, the chicken is never as flavorful as when it's fresh out of the iron skillet filled with 10W-40. Secondly, the communal experience of capsaicin nirvana is better when you can share it with suffering friends across the table and while watching the reactions of other diners (especially hot chicken virgins) at nearby tables. Lastly, hot chicken should come with hazardous materials handling instructions before you attempt to transport it in your vehicle.

I haven't checked lately, but I know that Prince's used to include a section of the daily newspaper with to-go orders to absorb the lava that seeps through the bottom of the brown paper sack containing your fiery fowl. Still, you can recognize a serious hot chicken addict by the deep orange stains in the carpets of their floorboards or their passenger seats. I have a good friend who keeps a permanently tangelo-tinted formerly white Frisbee in his trunk just for hot chicken transport.

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All this is to say that sometimes it's nice to be able to walk into a restaurant, order some spicy poultry and sit down at a table and eat it like a civilized person in less than the duration of the average lunch hour. Fortunately, the owners of Bolton's have recognized this and come to our rescue with their newest outpost on Murfreesboro Road. The restaurant location is in an area where it's easiest to describe landmarks by what used to be there. It's in the old O'Charley's near the corner of Thompson Lane. You know, caddy-corner from where Fifth Quarter used to be. Across from the old Peddlar Steakhouse. Just past the little strip mall with the abandoned Jack in the Box and Subway that has turned into a taqueria. (Seriously, where else have you ever heard of a Subway or a Jack in the Box closing?)

Aside from some new temporary signage, the Old O'Chuck's still looks like you could waltz in and order a lettuce wedge and some O'Tenders, but the food has changed quite a bit. Upon entering, diners proceed right past the host stand, because this is a hot chicken joint, after all. Don't waste your time looking for a maître d’. Right in the middle of the restaurant where the expediting station used to be is a tall counter where patrons order their food directly from the kitchen.

The menu has all of your old Bolton's favorites, including breast and leg quarters, chicken wings, hot fish sandwiches, chicken on a stick and ribs. Plenty of good down-home sides are available to cool off your gullet. My favorites are the green beans, the spaghetti and outstanding macaroni and cheese. On my most recent visit I enjoyed a spicy leg quarter sandwich that was drier than Prince's, and frankly not quite as hot or IMHO as good. However, it is nice to be able to enjoy a lunch without worrying about the dread of an impending afternoon of recovery and evacuation after a visit to Prince's House of Pain. Best of all, we were enjoying piping hot chicken within 15 minutes of pulling into the parking lot.

Lots of convenient safe parking, speedy service, great chicken and affordable prices add up to a winner of a chicken joint to me. Drop in and let us know what you think of the experience in the comments below.

Bolton's Spicy Chicken and Fish
1108 Murfreesboro Road
(615) 399-3998

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