With an eye toward being leaner and healthier, I'm choosing to eat fried food just once a week and animal protein just twice a week. Yesterday, we decided to give our newly lean and healthy bodies a one-two punch by paying a first-ever visit to Leroy's Fried Chicken (1021 Howell Mill Road, next door to La Fonda).
As fried chicken joints go, LeRoy's has a bit of split personality.
On the one hand, paper signs taped to the windows assure us that LeRoy is frying up local chickens only, and that every individual piece will be cooked to order. So, if you're a diner who associates local sources with healthier, greener eating or small-batch food with better taste, LeRoy's would seem to have potential.
On the other hand, there are also paper signs disclosing "There's pork in that there chicken."
What? Pork in the chicken? Yes, that's right: in a world where virtually everyone has switched to frying food in healthier vegetable oils, one of LeRoy's selling points is the fact that all their chicken is fried in good, old-fashioned lard.
Grandma used it. Doesn't that make it good for you? We shrugged off our concerns and placed our orders: one chicken breast each, one order of fries, and one order of mac and cheese.
By the way: if you've been buying your chicken at the Publix (where a few bucks buys a bucket of meat), you're in for sticker shock at LeRoy's. The one-piece combo (one piece of white meat, one small side, and one biscuit) is eight dollars -- and that's before you buy a drink.
After placing our orders, we waited about ten minutes for our piping-hot chicken breasts to arrive. I'm happy to tell you that LeRoy's chicken is well-seasoned and crispy, juicy throughout, and remarkably tasty. But I must also tell you this: our food was pretty darn greasy.
The chicken? Fried in lard. The biscuits? Made with lard. The french fries? Boiled in liquid pig fat.
As a result, everything is crispy and well-browned and smells faintly of pork chops … but it's also loaded, dripping, and saturated with grease. After eating it, we could actually feel our arteries banging around like bad plumbing … and all we wanted to do was run to Wal-Mart, buy some cheap Rubbermaid fixtures for the house, and immobilize ourselves on the couch, moving nothing but the finger on the remote control.
As an occasional treat, I'm sure there's nothing wrong with one piece of chicken from the LFC. The service is quick, takeout business looked brisk, and the staff is helpful and friendly. And it's true: one way to get noticed in a market saturated with options is to buck current trends and offer something the other outlets shy away from.
We enjoyed the adventure, but one serving was all I needed to know LeRoy's won't be on my Indulgence Day list going forward. When the hankering for fried chicken hits, you'll find me at the Colonnade, where at least no pigs were harmed in the making of my drumstick.