My buddy Sherrel and I had planned for several days on going to lunch together. I figured we’d just hit someplace close to work, but when the day came he announced that he wanted to visit another Indianapolis fried-chicken joint. The Kountry Kitchen is a soul-food restaurant on Indianapolis’s Near Northside, at 1831 North College Ave. (Because Sherrel sprang this on me I didn’t bring my good camera, so I apologize for the low-fi cell phone shots!)

This is not the most genteel of neighborhoods. Preservation efforts are underway on at least one nearby College Ave. home, however, so perhaps the area will soon undergo a renaissance. If so, hopefully that renewal won’t chase away businesses such as this one.

Kountry Kitchen’s building isn’t particularly inviting, and the entry area was Spartan with uneven floors. But as the hostess bid us seat ourselves, all became well as we passed back into the large, plainly decorated but brightly lit dining area. It was nearly full. The waitress came immediately. I asked for unsweetened iced tea, which came directly in this unusual but charming little jar.

We both ordered the two-piece dark meal, which came with two sides and a choice of cornbread. I chose the sides that just seem natural to me with fried chicken: green beans and mashed potatoes with gravy. I also chose the fried cornbread, which looked for all the world like a pancake. Sherrel ordered mashed potatoes too, but also macaroni and cheese, with his chicken.

The generously sized leg and thigh arrived connected, well coated without being overcoated. The coating was mildly seasoned and I detected a hint of pepper, which I liked. The chicken within was a touch dry and was not seasoned, so clearly the Kountry Kitchen relies on the coating to carry flavor. The cornbread pancake was not sweet; it had a mild corn flavor but was dry. Sherrel said that his cornbread square was moist and mildly sweet.

Where my meal really shone was in the sides. The green beans came from a can, but were firm and fully, deliciously seasoned without being overly fatty. I could have eaten two more helpings, they were so good. The mashed potatoes were real and dense and full of good potato flavor, with bits of skin and tiny potato chunks to create texture. They would have been plenty good alone, but the the gravy, which was full of flavor and had just the right level of saltiness, made them great. Sherrel was lukewarm about his macaroni and cheese, though.

I managed to misplace my receipt, but I think lunch cost me maybe $10, which is reasonable for the amount and quality of food we received. I don’t get that far down on College Ave. very often, but the next time I do, I’ll try to arrange for it to happen near lunchtime so I can visit Kountry Kitchen again.

Another Indianapolis soul-food restaurant we visited on our tour was Mississippi Belle. Check out my review of their fried chicken.


11 responses to “The Indiana Fried Chicken Tour: Kountry Kitchen”

  1. Melissa Dieckmann Avatar

    London, Kentucky just had its Chicken Festival at the end of September. If you get a chance, you should come down to experience this feast (and also to visit the original Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant). Some of the best fried chicken there is from the church organizations – you just can’t beat a country church lady when it comes to cooking fried chicken!

    The big debate down here is over the cornbread. Most of the eastern and southern Kentuckians I know like theirs unsweetened and a little on the dry side (but often crumble it up and toss it in soup beans, stews and soups/chili), while the northern and western Kentuckians seem to prefer a moist, sweet cornbread. For a real Kentucky delicacy, stop in Berea, Kentucky and try the spoonbread, which I can best describe as half-cooked cornbread. It’s a local tradition here, and we even have a Spoonbread Festival in the middle of September. I think it’s a bit too eggy, but then I don’t actually like eggs, so I may not be the best judge. (Just stay away from the lamb fries.)

    1. Jim Avatar

      I think that if I went to the Chicken Festival in London, I might not ever want to leave.

      I have yet to meet any kind of cornbread that I didn’t like, but when I make it at home it’s sweet and moist. I’ve seen people crumble up cornbread into things, and it seems like the unsweetened kind is right for that. I’ve had spoonbread — I don’t dislike it, but I’d rather have my cornbread cooked through.

      I love to make fried chicken. My favorite kitchen appliance is my deep fryer. I use Alton Brown’s buttermilk recipe with my own spices added.

  2. gaycarboys Avatar

    looks mighty fine to me!

    1. Jim Avatar

      It was plenty delicious; I’d go back.

  3. ryoko861 Avatar

    Cute plates!
    I haven’t had a good fried chicken meal in years! And the nearest KFC is over 20 minutes away along a very busy highway.

    Now my mouth is watering. And it’s only 8:51am.

    1. Jim Avatar

      I’m sure there are plenty of non-chain places to get a good plate of fried chicken where you live! But not at this time of the morning.

  4. Steve Hammer Avatar

    The current President of the United States has eaten there — twice! As a bonus, across the street is the Kennedy-King Memorial, the site where Robert F. Kennedy broke the news of Martin Luther King’s assassination to a distraught and mostly black audience on April 4, 1968. You’re in historic territory when you’re at the Kountry Kitchen!

    1. Jim Avatar

      Steve, if Kountry Kitchen is Presidentially approved, then that’s good enough for me! I didn’t know the history of this region — thank you for sharing!

  5. Todd Pack Avatar

    You had me at “choice of cornbread.” No restaurant that understands there’s more than 1 kind of cornbread can be all bad.

    1. Jim Avatar

      In northern Indiana, where I’m from, all cornbread is sweet and moist. So I was surprised when I moved this far south to find that this was not universally true!

  6. […] Jim talks about marinades and brines, different kinds of breading like batter and dredging. The dude knows what he’s talking about when it comes to the country fry. And they get off the beaten path, too, as evident by their visit to this fine establishment: Kountry Kitchen. […]

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