BEST FRIED CHICKEN - 2006
Readers' Choice: White Fence Farm
Real pan-fried chicken is a rarity. Making it is labor-intensive, time-consuming, messy and ties up a godawful amount of stove-top real estate in a busy galley. Good pan-fried chicken is even rarer, because there just isn't that much call for it in this part of the country -- and unless you were raised way down south or in Kansas City, you probably don't know good from bad from mediocre, anyway. But take our word for it: The pan-fried chicken served at Castle Cafe is a damn fine version of the classic, skillet-cooked masterpieces that have kept country folk and city slickers with country-fried tastes fat and happy for generations. Castle Cafe serves its bird on the bone, deconstructed into breasts, legs and thighs, on huge platters alongside good mashed potatoes, gravy, corn and bread (but not cornbread). The crust is crackly and peppery, soaked with grease (in a good way) and absolutely delicious in that way that only something done right can be.