Seems like I have been going on a fried chicken tear as of late (Peaches, Momofuku, etc) and I can’t believe I haven’t featured the first fried chicken I ever ate in New York City on this here very blog. It all started during my first month in culinary school at The French Culinary Institute, when I attended the first of my many visits to the school’s culinary theater demonstrations. As an eager young foodie scholar I relished every opportunity to get involved or attend every opportunity the FCI presented to me and first up came a demonstration from Chef Carl Redding, one that I remember vividly in detail.
Unfortunately, Carl sold Amy Ruth’s just after the ten-year anniversary in 2008 and has since gone on to celebrity chef-dom up and down the East Coast with soul food joints in Atlantic City and beyond.Yet his passion for ingredients and grandmothers recipes have stayed true as it changed ownership and has kept me a fan for years.
So when my soccer crew scheduled a bowling night at Harlem lanes a few Fridays ago, I knew that I could get my Amy’s fix. After a few rounds of terrible bowling (we were more focused on catching up and drinking), we headed south to Amy’s with hungry stomachs and a few beers in hand (the place is BYOB). After a quick wait we fell into our seats and quickly ordered. The menu is quite large with famous names for their most popular dishes (The Ludacris, The Nate Robinson, The Afrika Bambatta, The Al Roker, the list goes on and on). But I didn’t need a menu, I knew what I was getting… The Reggie Harris also known as two perfectly crisp pieces of fried chicken pieces and two succulent sides. Again no brainer on the sides, it’s gotta be grits and mac n cheese… a true belt buster if you ask me!
Complimentary cornbread as soon as your order is entered into the system, slather it with some butter and honey and you swear you forget what you ordered because this is so darn good. I only wish I have saved some for my entrée so I could make myself a little fried chicken sammie (I like to layer and mix things together a lot).
Fried to a golden crisp then dipped in honey? OMG. It’s a heartstopper that’s for sure and it’s meaty, moist, crispy, delicious, and not greasy at all.. it’s freaking delicious. It’s incredible and dare I say perfect. The only issue I had was that the sides were a little disappointing, only for the fact that the mac and cheese was a little lumpy and had coagulated a bit and the cheese was not incorporated into the grits. But, the deliciousness of the chicken more than made up for it!
*Plates Licked Clean!*
Just as I suspected we all ate ourselves into a coma and the thought of trekking it back to Brooklyn was a hard pill to swallow. Nevertheless, I mention this place to everyone I can as it truly is worth the trek up to Harlem. I mean every time I think about this place, I begin to salivate. I have been over a dozen times and everything I have ordered or tasted (from friends plates) is finger-licking good. Obviously the fried chicken is stellar, but the braised pork ribs, crispy fried catfish, unctuous crab cakes and tender yams hit the spot as well. Also, I don’t know about you but growing up in Kansas City I consumed my fair share gallons of Kool-Aid and Amy Ruth’s has a special “flavor of the day!”
The only thing I regret is that I cannot speak to the awesomeness of their desserts, as I am usually way too full to attempt to try a bite. Nearly every time I have eaten there I go after some serious soccer playing at Riverbank so my appetite is ready to go but I swear, I feel as if I gain ten lbs after eating trip and find myself needing to be horizontal like almost immediately. That being said, eating at Amy Ruth’s is a must for everyone wanting some real down home southern soul food. Simply put, this place is legit… it’s money… it’s soul food heaven.
113 West 116th Street (between Lenox and 7th Avenues)