Friday, October 9, 2009

Review: Fried Chicken at C&H Cafeteria, Northgate Mall, Durham, NC

Summary: Clean, friendly, healthful. Chicken, dy-no-mite! Butter beans, extra yummy. Cheap.

Visit: About 1:00 PM, Tuesday 6 Oct 09

Physical: Located in a strip mall annex to Northgate Mall, reached from Guess Rd.
Plenty of adjacent free, lighted, patrolled parking. 1720 Guess Rd., Durham, NC 27701

Ambiance: The entry way leads you past a wall that shields the dining room from the mall traffic. About 10 guests were queued in front of me. As you walk toward the beginning of the food line, you walk past it in review but backwards of course. The line moves quickly but no one is rushed. Cute trick.

Lots of tempting items are displayed. Emphasis on fresh and wholesome. Wide variety of salads, entrees, and desserts. Pies aplenty. Friendly, helpful, cheerful wait staff. Very active oversight and light-touch, hands-on management. A winning combo!

The food: Always seeking prime fried chicken, and based on foodie blog reports, I ordered the chicken. Dark or white? "Dark" yielded a good sized hindquarter. Added a side of butter beans. Ice water with lemon to drink. [Some ice water glasses already had a lemon wedge.]

The chicken was among the best I have ever tasted. Stone fresh. Mild flavor and juicy. No sign of overchilling. Apparently, not brined. Good for those such as myself who restrict sodium intake. Thin crispy coating that sticks to the chicken. A real feat. The butter beans were fresh-tasting, not canned, tender but not mushy or grainy, and free of added fat.

C&H management has sought and found great provisions and people who know how to cook and serve excellent food to a mass audience.

The dining room was busy, nicely appointed in a funeral-home-modern sort of way, and kept spotlessly clean by an attentive bus staff. Lots of conversations were held in quiet tones, but the room didn't sound or feel dead. The tableware was heavy and clean, and came wrapped in a spotless cloth napkin. A thoughtful touch.

The tariff: Al a carte, of course. The tab, $4.78 with tax, no tip. Should have left one, now that I think about it. Will double it next time, in partial recompense.

Next: Must try the chicken livers on rice! And the fried whiting looked fine.


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