First Look: Hill Country Chicken
So, what's the story behind Hill Country Chicken? Well, I got my first taste at about 8:30 pm on Friday night. What you're looking at are four pieces of fried chicken; a breast and thigh cooked Hill Country Classic style (skin on, breaded and seasoned with Hill Country Chicken Shake)and a leg and a thigh Mamma El Style (skinless, cracker crumb crust and seasoned with a special family recipe,) Picnic Stix (celery and carrot sticks,) Fire-n-Ice Pickles and Pimento Cheese. I also purchased a Mint Tea for me and a Creme Brulee for the wife at home.
So how's the food? I received four perfectly cooked, and I mean PERFECTLY cooked pieces of some of the most tender and juicy fried chicken I've ever had. Flavor wise, however, it was a mixed bag. The Hill Country Classic Chicken tasted as if it were rolled in Shake and Bake and then coated with another thick layer of salt. The Mamma El style - here they have something. A little sweet, a little salty, it's a perfectly balanced very tasty soft cracker coating. Beautiful. The Fire-n-Ice Pickles were sweet and spicy and a good complement to the chicken. The Pimento Cheese was a sweet, creamy orange cheese with just enough punch from the pimentos to make it interesting. Do yourself a favor and let it sit awhile before you eat it as the flavors improve as the cheese warms.
The mint tea was self-served warm with a barely noticeable hint of mint and the Creme Brulee, bruleed to order, was creamy smooth and delicious with a solid sugar crust.
Now how much does all this cost you ask? Well, frankly a lot more than I expected. A single chicken breast: $5.50, a thigh: $3,50, a leg: $2.25 and a wing (which I didn't get - they were out) is $1.75. The Picnic Stix are only $2.00 but is a complete rip off as I received one celery stalk cut into four pieces and 2 small sticks of carrot. The Pimento Cheese was an additional $1.00 with the purchase of the Stix and easily worth the cost. And finally, the Fire-n-Ice pickles were only 50 cents, but frankly I think they should have been included gratis with the meal.
The large mint tea was $2.50 and the "3 inch pie cup" Creme Brulee was $3.00.
What's the place look like? Think 50's retro dinner. Hill Country Chicken could be right at home on the set of The Andy Griffith Show. There are a couple of problems with the layout. The drinks are dispensed from a nook located off to the side. It's a small counter behind the condiment stand and really much to small to service the restaurant efficiently. The other issue I have is that the counters that line the windows are much too high for the chairs. Not a big deal, but eating at the counter was not very comfortable.
So will I be back? Probably. Hill Country Chicken has something great in Mamma El's bird and the sides I had were all very good, but the prices ($27 for 8 pieces of chicken with four biscuits, c'mon) will make me reconsider.