After wearing out my legs strolling through the Philadelphia Flower show late yesterday afternoon and early evening I visited the Down Home Diner for sustenance. There I found this chicken.
It shows on the menu as "Cast Iron Chicken", i.e., pan fried. Since it came to table within five minutes of ordering, no way was it cooked to order. Yet, it tasted as if it had. I don't know how they do it, but somehow Jack McDavid and his staff have found a way to hold the chicken and refresh it so it comes out perfectly.
This is no extra-spicy bird. The skin is delicately thin-crusted, but crisp. And it perfectly manages to hold in the juices. Ever piece -- thigh, drumstick, breast -- was plenty juicy. One strange note: I think of drumsticks as all dark meat, and thighs as half-dark, half-white; but through some fluke of nature, they all appeared white to my eye; maybe it was the lighting.
The accompaniments match the succulence of the bird. The collards had both acid tang and sweetness (lemon juice and raisins?), and the sweet potato fries were among the better examples of these I've had. While the interior of the fries were soft, the exteriors were crunchy (at least until they cooled off; I have them first).
For $8.99, a nice dinner plate.
The Down Home Diner, on the Filbert Street side of the Reading Terminal Market, is open until 10 p.m. When the market is closed, enter via Filbert Street, a.k.a. Harry Ochs Way.