Monday, November 29, 2010

Frying Up Thighs, Legs and Ravioli in St. Louis

Porter’s Fried Chicken
3628 S. Big Bend Blvd.
St. Louis, MO
Visited September 20, 2010

Beer selection: None.

Food: “Famous Fried Chicken”

I’m not a chicken guy.

Nope. In the over 10,000 estimated meals I’ve ordered out at restaurants, I can’t recall EVER voluntarily ordering chicken.

To me, there is nothing more unappetizing than a shriveled up, dry-as-the Sahara chicken breast.

Chicken is the nasty boring food you eat at home when you are making a stab at being healthy (once or twice a month in the Suit757 home).

But fried chicken?

That’s a whole ‘nother species of bird all together.

Now I can eat some fried chicken.

Amazing fried chicken can stand out based on any of several criteria: seasoning, crust and…


Porter’s fried chicken doesn’t make much of an attempt at excellence on the first two criteria. The chicken is as bland as a Rascal Flats concert, devoid of any seasoning. And the crust is thin and crispy, held tight to the skin.

But on my final greasy measuring stick, Porter’s really stands out.

This is some moist bird, here. And probably explains Porter’s recognition as the best fried chicken in St. Louis.

It didn’t win for atmosphere, that’s for sure.

I bet there are prison dining halls that have more character than this place located in a run down strip shopping center sandwiched between a coin Laundromat and a billiard hall.

The walls are painted blue, not a picture, decoration or depiction of a happy chicken to be found. Old worn wooden paneling and booths fill one side of the place, with the other half dedicated, appropriately enough, to take out.

I was the only “dine-in” patron in the place at peak lunch hour.

Matching the ambiance, or the lack thereof, the chicken -- and toasted ravioli I ordered on the side -- came out of the kitchen almost instantaneously in white non-descript card board boxes.

My two legs and a thigh (I’ve never understood why anyone would prefer dry, boring white meat over moist, succulent dark meat – but then again, like I said, I’m not a chicken guy) was accompanied by fairly forgettable mashed potatoes, coleslaw and roll.

Sad to say, the highlight of the meal was the toasted ravioli, a side dish more indigenous to St. Louis itself than to fried chicken joints.

Toasted ravioli isn’t really toasted – it’s deep fried. Which explains why it is such a dogone tasty St. Louis tradition.

Think meat-stuffed Chef Boyardee thrown in the deep fryer. Then spiced up with Italian seasonings and served alongside warm marinara dipping sauce. Once fried, the “toasted” ravioli are crisp and crunchy on the outside and the meat inside is soft and delicious.

It’s perfect finger food. Dip, crunch, enjoy. Repeat.

In fact, the Toasted Ravioli was so good, it really over-shadowed Porter’s namesake “Famous Fried Chicken”.

But then again, what do I know?

Remember, I’m not a chicken guy.

Rating: Would Wear the Shirt If It Were Free.

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