Nashville Spicy Fried Chicken @ The Fremont Diner, Sonoma

The Fremont Diner's Nashville spicy fried chicken comes standard with macaroni and cheese. In the background, a cream biscuit with country ham (also tasty).

I had jumped on the Ad Hoc bandwagon for a moment, back when their fried chicken night was just becoming the juggernaut that it is today. Like everyone else, I was eager to draw the logical conclusion that if Thomas Keller is America’s greatest chef, then the Ad Hoc fried chicken should also be among the nation’s best. But unfortunately, it’s just not that simple when it comes to regional cuisine, and even the greatest chefs in the world cannot be all things to all people. I’ll still acknowledge that chef Keller is a national treasure, but the Ad Hoc fried chicken is just not my style. Granted, I wouldn’t turn it away at a company picnic, but I’ll no longer go out of my way to eat it. And I never crave it.

If you want something a little more authentic and a little more Southern, look no further than the Carneros Highway. This scenic stretch of wine country, where the 12 and the 121 merge for eight miles, has two of the best fried chicken spots in the Bay Area. On the Napa County side, there’s the Boon Fly Cafe, which offers terrific by-the-book Southern-style fried chicken. Across the Sonoma County line (and just a couple short miles west of Boon Fly), there is the upstart Fremont Diner, which features their Nashville spicy fried chicken. I will admit that the Fremont fried chicken is indeed spicy, and perhaps too much for some Yankees (citizens of Buffalo excluded). But any native Californian who has grown up eating Mexican food should enjoy the subtle burn (and it’s nothing that one swig of Coca-Cola can’t cure).

Aside from the merits of the bird itself, one great thing about the Fremont’s version of fried chicken is that the dish comes standard with a nice portion of macaroni and cheese. For any restaurant that’s attempting to capture the true essence of the South, this combination is not only formidable, but it should also be the natural choice (mashed potatoes would also be acceptable, though perhaps not as interesting). Sadly, I just don’t see enough of that kind of thinking around these parts. But then again, it’s quite easy to tell that the folks at the Fremont Diner have put some real thought into their plates. The slice of homemade white bread, which dutifully absorbs the red grease drippings (and collects all of the crispy red cracklins as well), is a deft touch in itself.

1 comment to Nashville Spicy Fried Chicken @ The Fremont Diner, Sonoma

  • Joel

    After I had this chicken on Mother’s Day, I have been dreaming about it ever since. So, so, so GOOD!

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