Parson's makes fried chicken hip in Palmer Square

June 23, 2013 (CHICAGO)

But fried chicken is the next food trend on the horizon, and there's a brand new spot on the city's Northwest Side frying it up- along with plenty of fish.

Don't let the skinny jeans, beards and tattoos distract you from what is, at its core, the best new restaurant to open in Palmer Square, on the Northwest Side. It's Parson's Chicken and Fish, and like the name implies, fried chicken is the star, though they treat every ingredient on their compact menu with great respect.

"Fried chicken has always been something that's kind of special to me and I also think it's interesting because everybody has this idea of what it is in their head," said Chef Hunter Moore.

Moore brines his chicken to retain moisture, then soaks it in a buttermilk hot sauce before dredging it in all-purpose flour, cornmeal and spices; into the fryer it goes for about 11 minutes. When it emerges, it is simultaneously crispy and juicy. Gluten-free fans might want to opt for the grilled version.

"It's super tasty. We brine it for 12 hours and it's marinated in like a Caribbean island-style marinade for another 12 hours," he said.

The fish - most of which hails from the cod or pollack clans - is brined for an hour, then gets dredged in cornstarch and a tempura-style beer batter. Healthier versions come from the raw section of the menu, where ahi tuna is dressed with chilies and soy for a light appetizer.

"We just talk with the fishmonger and see what's readily available and what's the freshest," said Moore.

Every ingredient is meticulously sourced, much of it locally. A salad with smoked trout and pickled onions is a highlight, as are the hush puppies.

"The hush puppies alone have Three Sisters cornmeal, Slagel ham hocks, all the greens come from Werp, so we try our hardest to just incorporate that into the food in every way that we possibly can," said Moore.

I only counted about five communal and eight bar stools inside, but as Parson's goes through its expansion over the next couple of weeks and months, you can bet that every seat on the patio will be taken all summer long.

Parson's Chicken & Fish
2952 W. Armitage Ave.

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