Nashville Hot Chicken at Porchetta and Co.

Porchetta and Co.
Location: 545 King Street West, Toronto

I love Porchetta and Co.  Their porchetta sandwich?  Classic.  Best porchetta in the city.  Their fried chicken sandwiches?  Usually delicious!  Their Nashville hot chicken sandwich?  Uh…

Hey, they can’t all be winners.  And it wasn’t all bad.  The fried chicken itself was superlative, as usual: perfectly-cooked chicken with a crispy, crunchy, tasty exterior.  It’s good stuff.

Porchetta and Co.

Nashville hot chicken is a notoriously spicy dish that involves a post-cooking dunk into spice-infused oil to give the chicken additional flavour and heat.  It’s typically sprinkled with more spices, just to kick up the heat factor.  Porchetta and Co. appear to have remembered the oil — the sandwich was absolutely dripping with it — but forgotten the spices.  The oily coating on the chicken was bland, and worse, it wasn’t spicy.  At all.  The spice level here never registered beyond a mild tingle.  WTF?

The other components of the sandwich — lettuce, mayo, pickles, plain white bread — were fine, though the sugary-sweet pickles were a bit overpowering.


Lisa Marie

Lisa Marie - Fried Cornish Hen and Cornbread Waffles
Location: 638 Queen Street West

I’ve never had anything from Fidel Gastro, the food truck that spawned Lisa Marie, but after their outstanding offering at this year’s Burger Day (they served that event’s best burger, in my opinion), I knew that I’d have to check them out sooner or later.

I went for brunch, and while there were a few items that caught my eye, the one I settled on was the fried Cornish hen and cornbread waffles.

I have, sadly, been under the impression up to this point that I didn’t particularly like Cornish hen; the only other time I’ve had it, it was dry, not particularly meaty and, generally speaking, more trouble than it was worth.

Clearly, my first Cornish hen experience was just a sub-par preparation of what can be a tasty dish, as Lisa Marie’s version was the complete opposite: meaty and abundantly juicy, with a really satisfying flavour. I don’t think gamy is the right word to describe it, because it wasn’t that; it was very chickeny.

Yep, chickeny. That’s the kind of quality food writing that you can only find right here.

It also had an amazingly crunchy, perfectly seasoned batter that was fairly close to fried chicken perfection.

It’s the kind of dish that makes you unconsciously nod with approval, as if answering the same unasked question with each bite: “Why yes, it is delicious. Very delicious.”

The cornbread waffles are, I’m pretty sure, just cornbread that’s been cooked in a waffle iron. Whether or not that’s a good thing is up to you; I’m a cornbread fan, so I quite enjoyed it, particularly when drizzled with the provided cup of maple syrup.

I’d say it’s the best version of chicken and waffles I’ve ever had, but that wouldn’t be true; that honour goes to the chicken and waffles at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon in Las Vegas. But second best is nothing to scoff at.

I got it with the duck fat home fries on the side. They were tossed with some kind of grainy mustard, and came with a spicy sauce on the side. They were a bit less crispy than I would like, and definitely weren’t on the level of that amazing fried hen, but they were still pretty good.

Lisa Marie - the restaurant Lisa Marie - the restaurant Lisa Marie - the menu (brunch) Lisa Marie - Fried Cornish Hen and Cornbread Waffles