There are times in one's life that there are certain important tasks that are bestowed upon us. Our jobs, children and household require maturity and sometimes relentless dedication. Recently, I was given a task that required such determination. Yes, I was assigned to be a judge for the Fried Chicken Challenge. It was partially my responsibility in finding the best entry from the participating restaurants. Hey, were you expecting something else? Like taking care of the launch codes of some nukes?
I decided to hit up one of better Fried Chicken offerings in the city at Chewie's Steam & Oyster Bar. Sean and I visited the Downtown branch located in the former space of Miku. But before I got to the chicken, I started with some Kusshi oysters with 4 different condiments including a mignonette, cocktail sauce, spicy habanero and cucumber vinegar. These were shucked correctly except for one that had a small piece of shard jutting out. They were of a decent size (for a small oyster), fresh and buttery with a sweet brininess. Of the sauce, I enjoyed the classic mignonette the best. If you know me by now, I love Fries and yes I ordered them. These were good being fresh-cut and crispy while being well-seasoned.
Onto some appies, we shared the Pan-Seared Calamari that featured BC humboldt squid in a smoked paprika aioli. Texturally, the strips of squid were on point being tender with only a slight chew. As much as we enjoyed the smoky and creamy aioli, it was on the saltier side. Furthermore, the dish would've been fine with half the amount as the squid was pretty much drenched. Next, we tried the Dungeness Crab Cakes served a top a lemon aioli. Consisting of 3 monstrous cakes, the dish was quite filling as a appie. Fried until golden brown, the exterior was evenly crispy. Inside, there was a considerable amount of crab mixed with some celery and onions. They didn't skimp on the crab which was soft, yet a touch dense.
Onto our mains, the star of the meal was indeed the Southern Fried Chicken with buttermilk mashed potatoes, green beans and honey butter. Much like the last time I had it at the Kits location, this one sported a crunchy exterior that was drizzled in honey butter. The skin was fairly rendered while the meat was moist and tender (even the white meat). Our last dish was the twice-braised Beef Short Ribs with cheese grits and salsa verde. We found the short rib to be fork tender albeit a touch dry. It featured depth-of-flavour from the braising while the salsa verde cut into the heaviness. The grits were a bit chunky, but plenty cheesy. Overall, the 2 things that really stood out were the oysters and the fried chicken. Come for those and you won't be disappointed.
*All food excluding drinks and gratuities were complimentary*
- Tasty oysters
- Good fried chicken
- Funky vibe
- Other items can be hit and miss