Thursday, June 25, 2009

Proof Is In the Chicken at Chef Austin's

Posted By on Thu, Jun 25, 2009 at 11:41 PM

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As much as any restaurant deserves to be judged on its own merit, there's no escaping the context of comparison. This is especially true at Chef Austin's Creole Kitchen, reviewed in this weeks' issue.

It's a new place at the address of a once-famous restaurant (Pampy's Creole Kitchen) steeped in political intrigue. And it's a restaurant that takes its name from the renowned chef Austin Leslie, who worked there prior to his death.

No, Chef Austin's Creole Kitchen is not Pampy's redone. There are new owners who say they have no connection to Stan "Pampy" Barre, and anyway the restaurant is more casual and less expensive than Pampy's.

And though members of the kitchen staff have family or professional connections to the late chef, this is not the reincarnation any other restaurant where Leslie was at the helm.

But the chicken (pictured above) is the biggest question I get from people when they hear about this place. Is it the same? Does it measure up? Clearly, there is the addition of parsley and garlic that was chef Leslie's signature over his fried masterpieces, and there are even combo plates that hark back to Leslie's time at Chez Helene, like the No. 9 with chicken, potato salad and a stuffed pepper.

Where it really matters is in the skin, and in the meat under it, and on that basis this is great chicken.

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