Sherman's Food Adventures: Downlow Chicken Shack

Downlow Chicken Shack

Food from the South has never been a big thing in the GVRD.  As much as you try to find good ol' Southern cooking, you only come up with a few restaurants and with that, the results can be pretty mediocre.  Lost amongst the plethora of Asian eats, there has been an increasing interest in food from other parts of the world.  The newest to join the fray is the DownLow Chicken Shack from the same people at Merchant's Workshop, Doug Stephan and Lindsey Mann.  This is not a new creation by any means as they have been serving their Nashville Hot Chicken for several years now on select days.  Finally, they have set up shop where everyone can enjoy on a daily basis.

I originally attended a media preview and sampled the Hot Chicken Sandwich on a milk bun with DL sauce, sweet n sour slaw and house pickles.  As you can clearly see, they put the whole chicken breast in there.  It was super crispy on the outside while completely doused in their signature hot spices.  Inside, the chicken was juicy and moist.  The one I tried was "hot" on the heat level and yes it was spicy.  However, it wasn't burning hot where I couldn't taste anything else.  For this visit (with my friend Steve), I decided to try a few things including the 1/4 Dark in "mild" heat level.  Since there was just a touch of spice, the smoked paprika came through much more strongly.  Completely rendered and crunchy, the skin was perfect.  Much like the sandwich and even more so, the dark meat was juicy and delicious.

To get a sense of the Chicken Breast without the bun and other stuff, I got it in the "hot" heat level by itself.  This yielded a more distinct taste of the heat that gradually got hotter and hotter as I ate.  Again, with the considerable amount of succulent white meat, the spiciness wasn't unbearable.  In fact, it was well-balanced where I could taste layers of flavour rather than just heat.  However, the spice level was amped up a notch with the Chicken Wing in "extra-hot" heat level.  Again, the skin was well rendered being crunchy without any flabbiness.  Since there was less meat than the breast, the spice was more evident.  Again, it was a slow rumbling heat that got more pronounced as I chewed.  With that being said, it also didn't overwhelm. 

For sides, we got the Cornbread with cheddar and jalapenos.  This was a sizable piece where the cheddar added a rich saltiness while the jalapenos were a touch spicy and tangy.  The cornbread itself was rather sweet while a bit dry and crumbly.  Doused in DL sauce, the Fries were served hot and crispy.  I didn't tell them how spicy I wanted it and the sauce came creamy and mild.  For the tasting, I had it spicy and I highly recommend that you ask for that.  Although the prices might offer up a bit of sticker shock at first, the fried chicken at DL Chicken Shack is legit.  Execution is spot on and the flavours are equally good.  With all things considered, I would come back again and again, gladly paying the price (which we did!).

The Good:
- On point chicken, crispy and juicy
- Delicious spice blend, from mild-to-super hot
- Nice people

The Bad:
- A bit pricey for some (but worth it IMO)
- Cornbread could be more moist


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