You don't go to Party Fowl, one of the newest eateries at Hamilton Place, and expect to follow a healthy diet routine.
Not when the stars of the menu include Nashville hot chicken sandwiches, Nashville hot chicken tacos and Nashville hot chicken nachos. Get the picture?
Nashville hot chicken, for the uninitiated, is a big piece of boneless chicken breast that is deep-fried and slathered in hot sauce.
At Party Fowl, all of the main attractions start with Nashville hot chicken. Rarely do I opt for anything deep-fried, but this was a long-awaited night out with a group of girlfriends, so I threw caution to the wind and indulged.
If you're a fan of chicken, you're in luck. There are plenty of choices on the appetizer menu, from smoked chicken dip to wings to Lacquered Lollipops, a.k.a. chicken drumsticks carved into lollipops and drizzled with barbecue sauce.
There's also pimento cheese served with saltine crackers, fried cheese grits cakes and Fowl Balls - New Orleans-style dirty rice balls fried and served with white barbecue sauce, a condiment I think of as Alabama white sauce.
Entrees, too, are primarily chicken in some form. The specialty is Nashville hot chicken, and it can be made as mild as you like - or as hot. Medium spice was good for me, but if you can take it, order it hot, or go all out and order it Poultrygeist. "You've been warned," the menu states.
Party Fowl also serves beer-butt chicken - no spice, and an interesting Brick-Tattooed Chicken stuffed with sage and goat cheese, then seared under brick.
There's one burger on the menu, made the traditional way, plus another made with pimiento cheese, plus a veggie burger; a Nashville hot catfish po' boy, several salads and Party Fowl's version of gumbo.
IF YOU GO
* Where: Party Fowl, Hamilton Place next to Dillard’s, 2100 Hamilton Place Blvd.* Price range: $11-$19 (entrees). Kids eat free Monday-Thursday with adult entree (dine-in only).* Alcohol: Full bar.* Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.- 10 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. brunch Saturday-Sunday.* Phone: 423-531-3393.* Online: partyfowl.com
I went with red wine and a Hot Chicken Po'Boy with Piggy Chips.
Don't go to Party Fowl if you're a wine snob. There's one red - a cabernet - and two whites - chardonnay and pinot grigio. The cabernet was OK. 'Nuf said.
The po' boy was like no other po' boy I've ever had. Po'boys are traditionally served on a French bread bun and usually drizzled with mayonnaise or some type of remoulade sauce. Party Fowl's comes on a French baguette that is sliced and served like a typical sandwich. Rather than remoulade, the fried chicken breast is drizzled with hot sauce and topped with pickles, lettuce and tomato. Mine was a little dry.
Piggy Chips, a house specialty, are fried in bacon fat. Oh my. See what I mean about throwing caution to the wind? Who wouldn't want to sit down and pig out?
Next time I go, I'm all in on the Hot Chicken n' Cheddar. That baby's loaded with cheese, bacon and a big fat piece of Nashville hot chicken. It's a chicken sandwich on steroids.
There were at least a dozen of us gathered around a couple of tables pushed together. Reservations had been made in advance so everything was set up, right down to the silverware. That helped things run smoothly. We had one main server who did an excellent job taking orders. When it came time to deliver, a couple more servers helped.
Everything came quickly, considering this was a busy Wednesday evening. The restaurant was bustling, and, for that matter, so was the mall. It's so good to see business buzzing again.
The entrance to Party Fowl is on the outside of the mall next to Dillard's, the old Bar Louie space. You can't miss the bright red facade. It's an open-air concept that's perfect for a meal when the sun goes down and the day cools off a little. You might enjoy the evening with one of the adult slushies, like the frozen lemonade with Deep Eddy cranberry vodka.
Party Fowl is a casual place, good for parties, with metal tables and chairs. Meals come on paper-lined plates. But it is on the small side, so larger parties are best advised to make reservations.
There's nothing new about Nashville hot chicken. It's been a Nashville tradition for decades, and about five years ago, it become a national trend. It's on many restaurant menus. But I've never seen it used in so many different ways. Party Fowl is a nice change of pace.
Contact Anne Braly at email@example.com or annebraly.com.