Let's set the record straight: Everything does not taste better fried. I don't care how many weird things you stick in a deep fat fryer, I'm not going for it, just cause it's encased a searing hot, oil-drenched crispy coating.
Chicken, though? That's another matter!
Yet, great Fried Chicken is a hard thing to find in New York City.
I've tried Hill Country's clucker. I've also gone outside of Southern traditions with the award-winning Japanese-inspired fried hen at Blue Ribbon Sushi. None of them did the trick.
Recently though, the trick was done. Done in King's County no less.
The specimen wasn't even on the bone. Hot out of the fryer at Van Horn Sandwich Shop in Cobble Hill, this plump, crisply-coated chicken breast was stuffed ever so gracefully into a fresh Brooklyn bakery-made sesame seed bun. It's only other adornment was a bright purple cabbage slaw, which offered the sandwich a crunchy, tart, vinegary kick alongside a bit of jalapeno heat.
This was good eating. Heck, even the sandwich plate's pickle spear and side salad, greens dribbled with an addictive poppy-seed dressing, were good eating. I added a tall ice-cold glass of Sweet Tea and almost swore that I was dining below the Mason-Dixon line.
And, just to make sure that the Chicken Sandwich wasn't a fluke -- Van Horn as a "one hit wonder" -- I took one for the team this weekend and tried a Shrimp Po' Boy special.
Now, this was a masterful sandwich. Not better than the Chicken Sandwich. Wholly its own -- and holy moly!
The roll was lightly crunchy on the outside, soft and airy within. The shrimp were juicy and tender, flash-fried with a thin battered coating that satisfyingly shattered with every bite. The lettuce, tomato and homemade dressing rounded out the sandwich well, and the Po' Boy seriously sang Swanee when I capped it off with some peppery green cabbage slaw.
Grinning and full, I learned from one of the owners that breakfast will be on the menu come fall.
But, can Van Horn handle biscuits and country ham?
Once again, I plan on taking one for the team.