THE BITE: Yes, that is fried chicken in the picture. Yes, the place is called BBQ Chicken. Yes, I’m confused too.
Olive Original Chicken is marinated, battered and breaded chicken that is deep fried in 100 percent olive oil. The menu claims that the chicken here is prepared using over 30 ingredients, and by “ingredients” I assume they mean spices. Take that Colonel Sanders and your “secret recipe” of 11 herbs & spices!
You see, someone must have thought that calling a place “BBQ Chicken,” but not actually selling barbecue chicken, would bring in the crowds! I know it worked for me.
I went in when they first opened a couple of years back expecting to find barbecue chicken. I looked at the menu and found that BBQ Chicken actually stood for “Best of Best, Quality Chicken,” and that it was fried, I walked out. I never went back.
But with the demise of both Kentucky and Kennedy fried chicken locations, and BBQ Chicken being the only fried chicken joint left on our strip of Nostrand Avenue, it was time to give them another shot.
I ordered the Olive Original Chicken platter combination ($8.45), which includes 3 pieces of chicken, one side and a small salad of mixed greens. At BBQ Chicken you are allowed to choose your chicken by the piece. There’s no up-charge if you want 3 breasts, or 3 legs or a mix. I chose a breast, a leg and one incredibly poorly butchered, but incredibly lucky for me, wing that included the meat of at least one half of a breast. Unfortunately for me, it appeared that the breast meat that was attached to my wing had come from the the breast piece in my box.
This chicken is thickly battered and breaded and highly seasoned. It was surprisingly grease free and very crunchy. The 30 spices were hard to identify, but they did leave a pleasant burning sensation in the back of mouth. This chicken has some kick to it. The thick breading, however, tasted a bit like under-cooked flour. The chicken meat itself was perfectly cooked and juicy.
For my side, I chose “classic mac and cheese”, which tasted as if it came from the blue box. Yup, classic. The mixed green salad was accompanied by a very good blue cheese dressing that was served on the side.
Just like the name of the restaurant, BBQ Chicken, the philosophy behind the store seems a bit confused. The menu offers primarily fried foods, not exactly healthy in any book, but then the back cover is dedicated to the health benefits of olive oil. Frying chicken in olive oil may be slightly healthier than frying it in the more conventional canola or vegetable oil, but it’s not the best oil for frying.
The conventional wisdom of frying foods states that the hotter the oil, the better it is for frying. Most restaurants use an oil with a high smoke point (the temperature when the oil begins to break down and can easily catch fire). Most recipes I’ve seen for frying, call for an oil temperature of between 350 to 375 degrees. My candy thermometer says 365 degrees is perfect for fried chicken. The Olive Oil Source claims that extra virgin olive oil reaches its smoke point anywhere between 365 to 400 degrees. So it would seem frying chicken in olive oil is a chancy experience!
Maybe that explains the “Please call 20 minutes prior to pickup” on the menu and in the window!
BBQ Chicken Nostrand, 3512 Nostrand Avenue, (718) 646-3512.
The Bite is Sheepshead Bites’ weekly column where we explore the foodstuffs of Sheepshead Bay. Each week we check out a different offering from one of the many restaurants, delis, food carts, bakeries, butchers, fish mongers, or grocers in our neighborhood. If it’s edible, we’ll take a bite.