Out of Bounds: Piece of Chicken
Midtown has its boundaries, but every once in awhile I’ll discover a place that just might be worth the extra few blocks, and profile it in a category I call “Out of Bounds”. Since Ressie May’s Soul to Go closed, there has been a soul food hole in the Midtown Lunch’ing landscape. Anything good and cheap would be welcomed. A place that sells fried chicken for a $1 a piece, collards and mac & cheese for $1-2 a scoop- well now you’ve got me excited, and willing to walk those extra couple of avenues for an Out of Bounds lunch.
Piece of Chicken is that place, and their sandwich board doesn’t lie. As unbelievable as it seems to passersby, they do in fact serve fried chicken for $1 a piece, and side dishes for $1-2. Add to that rib tips, fried fish, corn bread and soup, sold out of the back window of a kitchen that once belonged to upscale Caribbean restaurant Jezebel (with nothing costing over $2), and you’ve got a winner.
The menu, piece of chicken porn and a +/- after the jump…
I’ll take variety over quality any day of the week, and Piece of Chicken is all about variety. The price structure is possibly the greatest of all time, allowing you to choose four or five different things, and having it only cost $5-7 for your whole lunch. With so much to choose from, and so many possible combinations for your money- it helps to do a little planning, so here’s the menu in advance:
Piece of Fried Chicken – $1
Piece of Fried Whiting – $2
Piece of Fried Catfish – $2
Crispy Chicken Livers – $1
BBQ Chicken Wings – $1
BBQ Salmon – $5 (the only thing over $2)
Chicken Soup – $1
Fish Soup – $1
BBQ Rib Bit – $1
Okra – $2
Mac & Cheese – $2
Collard Greens – $1
Blackeyed Peas – $1
Potato Salad – $1
Home Fries – $1
String Beans – $1
White Rice – $1
Corn Muffins – 2 for $1
Of course, no bit of planning is perfect, as oftentimes they will be out of things, causing you to have to scramble at the last minute. Ordering is easily the hardest part of Piece of Chicken, leaving a lot of room for second guessing, even after you’ve made your decision. The first time I stopped, here’s what I ended up with:
Clockwise from upper left: Piece of Whiting, Collard Greens, Mac & Cheese, BBQ Rib Bit, Piece of Chicken. Total Cost: $7
I didn’t realize you could choose what kind of chicken you ordered, so I ended up with the breast, which not surprisingly, for $1 is actually a half a breast. Everything was really good (but not great), although it’s hard to complain for $7.
The second time I went, I adjusted my strategy a little:
Clockwise from upper left: BBQ Wings (there’s actually two in there), Mac & Cheese (to see if it was the same as the first time), Corn Muffins, Fried Chicken Thigh.
Plus a side order of Okra:
Total Cost: $6. This time I asked specifically for the thigh, which they gladly gave me. I also asked for the wings (2 for $1) thinking I would get fried chicken wings, but apparently they only do BBQ wings, which I’m pretty sure have the same sauce as the rib bits.
All in all everything was once again really good, especially when you consider the price. And that’s pretty much it. Nothing about Piece of Chicken necessarily stands out as outstanding, except for Piece of Chicken itself. Their service has flaws, sometimes they charge you the wrong amount, oftentimes they will run out of things (I have never been able to get the fried chicken livers), and the freshness of the food is always hit or miss.
But in the end, who cares!?! Everything costs $1 (or $2), which means you can get 17 different things for the price of a sandwich at Cafe Metro (slight exaggeration, I’m not so good at math). And it’s served out of the window of a real restaurant kitchen. A great find for those of us looking for variety, and willing to walk the extra few blocks. I know some of you have already discovered this place on your own, and everybody has their favorite choices. Mine would have to be- 2 Thighs, 1 Rib Bit, Okra, Collards & Corn Muffins for $7. Feel free to post your perfect Piece of Chicken combo as a comment below…
The + (What someone who likes this place will say)
- Is there anything better than fried chicken, $1 per piece?
- Wait, there is something better. $1 fried chicken, with $1 collard greens and $1 corn muffins.
- I love soul food, and have been looking for a place ever since Ressie May’s closed
THE – (What someone who doesn’t like this place will say)
- The service sucks sometimes. They try to write your order down, but sometimes end up screwing it up. (Make sure to check your container before leaving).
- The quality and freshness of the food is hit or miss
- There is better fried chicken in Midtown (even though it doesn’t cost $1 a piece)
- The Mac & Cheese is a casserole more than a creamy, goeey mac & cheese. And you should get more for your $2. (Possibly the most complained about Piece of Chicken dish)
Piece of Chicken, 362 W. 45th St. (just East of 9th Ave.), 212-582-5973