I’ve been thinking about Mary Hoopa’s House of Fried Chicken & Oysters, for about three months. Maybe longer. I knew it was coming, as I’m a fan of Chef Robert Phalen and his One Eared Stag, and, some time last year, I heard that he was opening a fried chicken place, serving his “once-a-week” fried chicken every day. Then we went to lunch at the new Greater Good over New Years’ weekend and I saw where the location was to be. This Saturday, with a family event in Alpharetta mid-afternoon, I determined we’d be headed to dinner in East Lake.
The inside has very clean lines, with hardwood floors and wood and steel chairs. The menu is focused on two things – chicken and oysters. The chicken is served a la carte, with several sides that you can add to it. There are also five other entrees that seem to reflect the Louisiana meets urban chic vibe that they are going for, including trout, pork chops and shrimp and grits.
My beloved ordered the fried chicken sandwich, topped with slaw.
She said that the slaw was very good, but there wasn’t enough of it on the sandwich. But there was a surprise, as she went to slice it – this fried chicken sandwich was NOT a breast filet. I don’t know that I’ve ever had a chicken sandwich that wasn’t a breast filet, so it wasn’t that the menu was misleading. They didn’t say chicken breast sandwich, but that’s what we were expecting.
Other things to note:
- They don’t do substitutions or modifications. They are “politely declined”.
- They don’t have straws. They weren’t “out” of straws. They never got them when they opened and they haven’t ordered them since.
I went with the chicken:
When you order chicken you have three size choices (half bird, whole bird and two birds) and three preparation choices (house fried, sweet or hot). The chicken was not cheap – $18 for a half chicken, $24 for a whole and $49 for two birds. I asked the server if the “hot” was a Nashville-style hot chicken, and when she affirmed, I ordered a half chicken that way.
First, it is double fried – the second frying giving it the crinkly, crackly crust. This is the first place, in Atlanta, that we’ve tried, that does Nashville hot chicken right. Even though it is fried chicken, dipped and basted in hot sauce, is not greasy, at all. It leaves a dry, cayenne powder on your fingertips that you want to lick off, but ought to refrain from. From a side stand point, I ordered the Sea Island Peas with chiles and it was like a low country hoppin’ john. With the hot chicken, they were a bit much, spice-wise, but we brought them home and had them as a side with dinner the next night and they were perfect. They seem to be courting a “neighborhood” vibe and there were lots of folks with kids there, but the kids menu isn’t very deep. Luckily, as long as I don’t have to sit with someone else’s kids, the limited kids menu is not a problem that we have to contend with. But if you’re trying to build a neighborhood restaurant…