Pan fried chicken, okra, mac and cheese, collard greens, smothered chicken. These are some of the things you can get at Charles Country Pan Fried Chicken in Harlem. We headed up there for lunch because we heard Charles’ chicken is legendary.
The place is mostly a take-out spot, but they have three or four tables where you can enjoy an all-you-can-eat buffet. At lunchtime it is $13.00 a person. You can pick anything you want from the hot food tables, including the famous fried chicken. Not a typical help yourself buffet. Here, you point, they serve.
I started with some fried chicken, smothered chicken and BBQ chicken. I specified how many pieces of each I wanted (one) and which type (drumstick). Plus macaroni and cheese, sweet potatoes and an okra and corn stew. Everything was delicious. The fried chicken was crunchy and not greasy. The BBQ is much better than it looks. It is in a thin sauce that is thick with flavor. The sweet potatoes weren’t overly sweet–just how I like them. I had seconds of everything on the plate–I liked them so much, I didn’t try the other items.
While we were eating, I could watch a soap opera on TV or chef and owner Charles Gabriel cooking up some more chicken in a big skillet at the stove behind the food counter.
You also had your choice of smothered turkey leg or stewed pig’s foot. I passed up the rice, corn, collard greens, and beans, but I tasted the greens and beans on Lee’s plate–yummy.
The New York Times agreed that the chicken and the experience are superb.
The New Yorker magazine profiled Charles this week here
The Lee Brothers call Charles Gabriel a legend
Charles Country Pan Fried Chicken is on Frederick Douglass Boulevard between 151st and 152 Streets–just a couple of blocks from the 155th Street stop on the B and D subway lines. It is one subway stop (or about a 15 minute walk) from Yankee Stadium.
Yesterday I had a fabulous meal at M. Wells. A couple days earlier the M. Wells folks sent out an email saying that they were having a Labor Day party. There would be a DJ, food for a fixed price of $30 and a cash bar. As is usually the case with M. Wells’ special events, there were no details about the food. The email only stated they would “celebrate the best of our summer specials and take a peak at our upcoming fall menu”. You have to be prepared to jump in without any details. You have to ignore the press who usually get it wrong (Time Out said the menu would include fish quenelle and lobster, veal kidney with sea beans and salt-crusted squab–none of which were served). With M. Wells, you have to put yourself in their hands, go in blind and trust in Hugue. Whatever it is, it is bound to be surprising, generous and wonderful. Yesterday was a case in point.
We got our wristbands and a couple of drinks from the bar, sat down at a table and over the next couple of hours, the following dishes were brought out to the two of us:
The seafood platter had 6 oysters and 4 little jars which contained geoduck, mussels, clams, and roe. What a way to start! (Later we saw that king crab legs were being added to the platter)
A baked potato was served with the seafood platter. The roe with creamy horseradish sauce from one of the jars was a perfect topping.
We shared a juicy hamburger and fries.
The pan con tomate was loaded with flavor.
The guinea hen roulade was stuffed with something sausagey (foie gras was mentioned) and topped with a mushroom sauce. The best part with the exterior–it was wrapped in a thin french toast.
One of the regular items on the M. Wells Steakhouse menu is a “stack of pork chops.” We got a beautiful stack of two delicious chops.
The cauliflower was roasted, topped with puffed rice and served with a sauce with a little heat and Indian flavors.
Fried chicken with a yummy gravy for dipping.
Much more a croquette, than gnocchi, this was oozing foie gras. OMG!
A special meal at M. Wells has to include wild hare.
We were stuffed by this point, but managed to eat all of our dessert-maple pie, something like a chess pie and a chocolate icebox type cake.
Oh, and the music was terrific–it started out with New Orleans music and built up to dance music. A lovely way to spend Labor Day. Thanks M Wells!