Slap-Happy Chicken

The big restaurant buzz going around town this past week has been the arrival of Slappy’s Chicken. Slappy’s Chicken is located at 200 W Acadia Avenue in the old Acadia Grill location.

Scott Brandenburg, who’s been involved in the restaurant business for quite a while and has done stints at some of the local food establishments, decided it was time to get back into owning a restaurant. He previously owned a restaurant with his wife, but I’ll be honest, I don’t know exactly where he said it was. I think it was Brevard, but I’m not asking you to take my word on that because I could be wrong. He said he recognized me from around town, I’m figuring it was from Meridian, as he worked there as a server for a bit. 2016-07-22 09.21.27

Scott takes a very simplistic approach to chicken. Fry it, dip it in a special sauce of his own design and serve it with a side. Well, you may think that sounds very obvious, that’s what most places do. You’re right, but I don’t know if you’re getting the point. He only does chicken.

His menu consists of 3 items, not counting dessert and drinks: 1/4 dark (leg and thigh), 1/4 white (breast and wing) and 1/2 chicken (leg, thigh, breast, wing). Each of those items come with two sides and a roll.

The sides to choose from are: Mac & Cheese, Baked Beans, Collard Greens, Cole Slaw and Potato Salad. Pretty much what you’d want to see and eat accompanying chicken. The menu also invites you to gaze upon the dessert board for the dessert of the day. The day we went, it was pineapple refrigerator cake. There was a fountain with Pepsi products and, of course, you have to have Cheerwine since you’re eating chicken in North Carolina.

13690772_10154193965590490_95489159316486232_nThe sauce. That’s what makes Slappy’s Chicken unique. The sauce is sort-of-barbecueish. It’s a slightly sweet, yet quite spicy, sauce that completely covers the bird. There’s a hint of some Cajun seasoning and I’m thinking some honey. To the unaware, this can come off as really hot. Stephanie, who doesn’t do hot, was sucking wind a little bit, but she ate the whole thing (she had the 1/4 dark). She said it was very spicy but she could handle it. My son, Trey, likes spicy and he said it was a bit “warm,” but also he liked it on his 1/4 dark. I found it to be more than I was expecting but not more than I liked. I thought the flavor and the heat profile to be just right once I was acclimated. I really liked the sweet heat that came from it.

I asked Scott if he made the chicken without the sauce and he said he most certainly did. Many have asked for it “dry” with the sauce on the side. Me, being the fan of chicken breast as I am, will probably opt for that the next time I go and I will go back. I want to taste the chicken with the sauce, not just the sauce with some chicken. That’s not at all a knock, it’s just a matter of tasting the wares; knowing what I’m working with.

Stephanie had hers with mac & cheese and potato salad. Trey had his with beans and mac & cheese. I had the mac & cheese and collard greens. Mac & cheese seemed to be the side of choice for the evening as I saw a few others with it on their plate, as well.

Now, here’s the caveat. We were there at 7:40pm. They close at 8pm. We were the next to last order taken for the evening. In fact, I got the very last 1/4 white plate, Scott said he’d run out because of the run of customers. He said he’s been doing that all week. But, to me the mac & cheese was a little dry. I know they weren’t making a new batch after at least 7pm. I get that, no worries.I added the obligatory Texas Pete that I always have with my mac & cheese and it was just right. Someone asked me on Instagram on a scale of 1-10 what would I rate the mac & cheese and I said 5 but I wanted to try it again. The flavor was fine, but it was dry. Again, it was the last batch of the evening and while some may throw up that “it should be great no matter what,” I’m not of that school. I completely get it and because I plan on going back – more than a few times – I’ll have it again. I’ll rethink my rating of that after having a second helping. The collards, they were on point. I added a little vinegar, as I do, and all is right in the world. 2016-07-22 09.22.59

The decor is “old school diner” and there’s nothing wrong with that. I believe Scott wanted to keep with the history of the place and the Acadia Grill was a mainstay for a long time in that area. It’s updated and clean. There’s even an old mantelpiece with mirrors in the second dining room to corral some of that old-time charm. I like that.

I believe that Scott’s Slappy’s Chicken is what is needed in the Washington Park area. I think the food is fantastic, just beware if you don’t like spicy (order the sauce on the side to test it). The sides are simple but just the way you want them. I honestly believe that the simplicity of the establishment is what is going to make it work so well. The less you wrangle with as a customer, the less they wrangle with in the kitchen, the less wait and speculation about your food. You want fast and “comfort.” That’s what you’re going to get at Slappy’s Chicken. It’s not called Slappy’s Chicken and a Bunch of Other Stuff. Simple. Delicious.

Winner, winner chicken dinner. Yeah, I had to go there.

I rate Slappy’s 4.25 stars out of 5.

Chef Tim Grandinetti – Bourbon and Pappy

This is part of the “Food Pairing Series” that will convey the culinary genius that is Winston-Salem’s (and surrounding areas’) wonderful restaurateurs, chefs and food visionaries. This series isn’t designed to display any certain holidays, seasons or time frames. It is simply a demonstration of what the area has to offer and why you should follow the restaurants and chefs to be informed about the events that they will be holding in the future. You won’t be disappointed… guaranteed. Enjoy!

This event brought a pre-Valentine’s treat for Stephanie and me. We were guests at the chef’s table for Tim Grandinetti’s American Whiskey Celebration, AKA the “‘Illest Bourbon Dinner.” A limited-seating event (there were only 16 people, max), we were treated to some fantastic bourbon and delicious food at Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen and Bar.

Pan Roasted Diver Scallops & Smoked Giant Shrimp

First off, who doesn’t like seafood saddled beside (or on top or under) a bourbon gravy laced with bacon? EspeciallySH Roasted Diver Scallops 1 when that bacon is the delicious Italian pancetta? Well, here you have large, meaty shrimp and tender diver scallops that are perfectly enveloped in this pancetta bourbon glaze and all of this on top of creamy grits. And, please, don’t forget the microgreens. I have gotten on a microgreens kick lately and these, while quaint, set it all off. It was a small dish but bursting with large flavor; lots of smokiness, wonderful savory and seafood tastes.

Pair this with a craft cocktail called “Maple Ginger Smash” and that was made with Buffalo Trace Whiskey. It’s spiciness matched with that of the ginger and against the sweet of the maple creates a flavor party for your mouth. This along with the salty pancetta, the earthy microgreens and our delicious friends from the sea? A wonderful first course.

Slow Cooked Duck Confit with Grand Marnier Aioli

I’ve just discovered the joys of duck in the last few years and duck confit (cooked in its own fat) is even better. I’ve SH Slow Cooked Duck Confit 2really never been a fan of dark fowl meat: duck, turkey, chicken, etc., but lately these things have started to really appeal to me. First, though, there’s a smeared smattering of the Grand Marnier aioli. Grand Marnier is absolutely my favorite liquor or liqueur, ever. So, an aioli – not unlike (but not exactly) mayonnaise but with garlic – made with this lovely orange treat is just perfect. Take the fat-cooked duck leg and place it on top of said aioli and it’s a match made at least near heaven. Garnished with large-cut sweet potato steak fries, both they and the duck are great candidates for “dipping” in the aioli. I believe this was my favorite dish of the night.

The duck was paired with the craft cocktail called “Toasted Apples” made with Basil Hayden, a lighter bourbon in the Jim Beam family. The lighter bourbon with the fresh apple essence went well with the dark fowl and created a delightful contrast and flavor balance.

Orchard Apple, Estate Honey & Bourbon Sorbet

The palate cleanser was a delicious sorbet that was infused with Maker’s Mark, a very flavor-rich bourbon. The woodSH Orchard Apple Estate Honey 3 notes of the bourbon and the sweetness of the honey makes a great match for the apple flavors. I could have eaten about 12 more of those.

Bourbon Chicken & Crispy Chicken Livers

Take some potatoes, whip them up with creamy brie and scallions and you have a delicious bed on which to lay your breaded bourbon chicken. Then take chicken livers and hearts and bread them up and place them SH Bourbon Chicken and Crispy Livers and Hearts 4on the potato bed right next to the wonderful chicken. They are from the same bird so, naturally they make great bedfellows. I’ll be honest, chicken innards aren’t usually my thing, but Tim Grandinetti has a way of making me eat things I normally wouldn’t. The hearts were a little more chewy than I’d want, but they were definitely edible. The livers were quite earthy but when you mixed all that with the roasted tomato chutney, the tomatoes gave just the right amount of acidity to the hearty bird and potatoes.

This was paired with the craft cocktail called “Smoke Signals,” made with Elijah Craig bourbon. Its smokey tones made the pungent brie cheese pop in the potatoes, brought out the brightness of the tomatoes and tamed the earthiness of the livers and hearts. This dish, overall, I’d describe as simply: “bold.”

House Signature Bread PuddingSH House Signature Bread Pudding with KK Streusel 5

This bread pudding was sticky (which I think is the point) and moist. It was made with a Krispy Kreme streusel and that WSNC staple brought new life to the pudding. Add a side of egg foam and you get a creamy sauce to pour over the pudding/streusel to lighten it up a bit. It was good, but the anticipation of the bourbon distracted me from getting a full flavor experience. The bourbon in SH 15 Year Old Pappy Van Winkle 5question was the Pappy Van Winkle 15 year-old. Pappy is made in very small batches: perhaps 7000 bottles a year (compared to 7 million cases of Jim Beam a year). Its flavor was the absolute smoothest I’ve ever tasted in a bourbon. You get the full bourbon hit but, it’s very low on the bite, which is what some people complain about with bourbon.  I am honored to have tried this, especially with the company I was with when doing so.

Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen and Bar is a collaboration between husband-and-wife team, Lynn Murphy & Lynette Matthews-Murphy and Chef Extraordinaire, Tim Grandinetti. They offer Southern, New American cuisine that is rotated seasonally using farm-to-table ingredients whenever possible. This, with craft cocktail artistry and a wonderful, out of the ordinary beer and wine list, makes this restaurant unique and you’ll love eating, imbibing and enjoying at its beautifully historic grounds, bar and dining rooms. You can find more about Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen and Bar on their website. You can call them: (336) 293-4797. Follow Chef Tim on Twitter: @DocBrownstone