There are credible articles all over the Internet explaining how Europeans, at some point in history, started using less and less spices in their cooking. That's not a problem at Street's Fine Chicken, the new fried chicken restaurant from the Street family, of Black Eyed Pea fame. They've opened their first chicken restaurant in the original location of Black Eyed Pea on Cedar Springs Road, and it’s mighty fine chicken indeed.
The crowning jewel is the French fried chicken. Every piece is brined in lemon, salt, and herbs. They call it French because of the combination of "Provencial" herbs used, which include classic herbs used for chicken, such as thyme and sage. The breading is crispy and loud; the chicken, juicy and tender.
They cook it to order, requiring a minimum 20-minute wait. You can get it a mixed-piece variety with white and dark meat, or dark meat only. It comes with honey-butter biscuits and a side. The biscuits were about puck-size with a dense texture, symmetrical in appearance. Biscuits aren't my thing.
For starters, order the "chickarones," which are fried chicken skins, topped with chili salt and lime, served in a basket. They're like crunchy chips, or more to the point, like pork rinds.
Other starters include deviled eggs, which are made unique by spiking them with Sriracha; and chicken lollipops, which are smoked and fried chicken drumsticks coated with a Grand Marnier-horseradish flavored molasses.
There are sandwiches, including the crispy chicken sandwich, consisting of a fried chicken breast and cole slaw, on a brioche bun. A smoked maple dijon sauce adds lots of sweet flavor, smoky not so much.
Chicken and dumplings had the same brined chicken, roasted not fried, and a rich broth laced with thyme and parsley. The chicken was in chunks, and matched the size of the dumplings, which were soft but dense.
Chicken tenders are lightly breaded; I prefer mine with more breading for extra crunch. You can pick your choice of sauce, from creamy jalapeño ranch to smoked maple dijon mustard to sweet Tabasco agave nectar jam.
Sides we tried included the Brussels sprouts, which had that same maple dijon sauce; and macaroni and cheese, in this case high-end Brie and Gouda, baked with a crispy crust. Their version of mashed potatoes were creamy and whipped, with a super-fine texture, no nubs. They came topped with cream gravy.
As much as we loved the fried chicken, our favorite was actually the nonfried "sin killer" pair of thighs marinated in an alchemic mixture of agave nectar, garlic, lime juice, olive oil, orange peel, Peri Peri peppers, and other herbs and spices.
Its citrus flavor was psychedelic and rich, with a heat that lightly stung the tongue before settling. To top it off, the chicken was flame-grilled and charred to give it a dark and carbonized texture.
A full bar has a small wine list, some custom cocktails, and local brews.
This is my kind of Southern cooking: A cyclical combination of savory and sweet, memorable and gratifying.