In my last two reviews of the Chicken Manor Family Restaurant, I detailed my equally positive and negative experiences. At the end of my second visit, I vowed that I would give this restaurant one last chance to prove to me that the first time I visited wasn't just a fluke. So, at around 5:30 PM this evening, I pulled into the half-empty parking lot and decided that it was finally time to try the signature dish, the fried chicken.
After being seated at my table, I was handed my menu. Since I didn't photograph it either time before, I thought I'd do that now:
Almost immediately my server brought me a bread basket to the table:
This was nothing special, just your standard dinner roll. It was fresh, so that was nice.
With your dinner, you get your choice of three sides, with a garden salad counting as two sides. Looking at the salad dressings on the menu, it said that they were "homemade". One of the dressings listed was blue cheese, an all-time favorite of mine. So when the waitress came to take my order, I asked for the salad with blue cheese dressing. When she inquired about my other side, I asked her if the mashed potatoes were homemade. Sadly they weren't. But she insisted that they were very, very good. Knowing that just because something is homemade doesn't guarantee that it will taste good, I decided to take her word for it and ordered them.
First up, the garden salad:
I've had this salad on a previous visit and other than the pickled beets, it really isn't all that noteworthy. The salad dressing, however, is. When I see homemade blue cheese dressing on the menu AND it costs $0.40 more for that option than the other dressings, I expect a stellar dressing. Thick, rich, creamy dressing with wonderfully tangy chunks of blue cheese strewn throughout. Sadly, I was disappointed. Barely tiny discernible specks of cheese with a generic bottled-tasting dressing. When I asked her about it later on, she admitted that only the Italian and Ranch are homemade. It would've been nice if the wording on the menu mentioned that, don't you think?
Soon afterward my dinner platter came out:
Now, I don't exactly expect foie gras and caviar when I go to a place like this, but would it kill them to put a sprig of parsley on the plate? I mean, nothing like a tan platter that holds tan food.
The fried chicken had been coated in seasoned flour and then deep fried until done. Unfortunately, "done" for these chicken breasts meant dry-as-the-Sahara done. The coating was nicely crisp, but because this was deep fried instead of broasted like they do at Das Dutch Kitchen, the inner part of the skin was flabby and undesirable. Both breasts were seasoned nicely and the chicken wasn't overly greasy, but the dryness of the meat sent me to my water glass time and time again.
Finally, the mashed potatoes and gravy:
I wouldn't even call these mashed potatoes. These were textbook reconstituted potato flakes. And a very bad version of even that. I guess the bright side of getting this dish was that I had something to dunk the chicken pieces in that would aid in chewing and swallowing. Needless to say, the waitress's version of "very, very good" and mine have significant differences.
Overall I have to say that for me, eating at a place named the Chicken Manor Family Restaurant and having two such poor experiences with their namesake ingredient is quite disappointing. I have to believe my first visit when I received that wonderful fried fish may simply have just been dumb luck. I suppose these chicken joints are a quaint piece of Americana, but honestly, if I had limited dinner dollars to spend, I'd suggest picking someplace else that can deliver more consistent food.