Chow Chow Kitchen
What: Chow Chow Kitchen
Cuisine: Southern Soul/Comfort (High-End Take-Out)
Location: 14201 Madison Ave., Lakewood, Ohio, 44107
Phone: (216) 712-4126
So, I first heard about Chow Chow Kitchen in the Fall of 2015, shortly after it opened. Having a major weakness for Southern cooking, my interest was piqued immediately upon seeing the menu online.
Fried chicken and catfish. Po’ Boys. Gumbo. Mac & cheese.
Yeah, the good stuff.
My friend Ron and I are in the area for another engagement, so I suggest that we give Chow Chow Kitchen a shot.
It is housed in a small storefront that sits on a corner location on the trendy stretch of Madison Avenue in Lakewood, OH. In front of the entrance is really cool sandwich board adorned with a painted image of a chicken breathing fire. It is emblazoned with the phrase “Hot Chicken,” one of CCK’s signature dishes. It is a fun nod to a vintage circus sign.
Upon entering, I notice a painted menu to the left of a counter where one places their order.
The front of the house is small. There are only four tables. It is cheery, yet purposely “worn” inside. The vibe is casual and unassuming.
The bulk of Chow Chow Kitchen’s business is carryout. (The business model seems to be “food-truck-in-a-stationary-location.”) There is nothing on the menu over $9.
The counter clerk is friendly and courteous. He asks if we have eaten at the restaurant before, and offers menu suggestions because we haven’t.
I order a “Winner Dinner” (two pieces of buttermilk fried chicken and side of mac & cheese) for $7.5. I also ordered a side of biscuits and gravy ($4), as well as a “smoked peach” iced tea ($2.5).
My mouth is watering in anticipation.
My friend chooses the “Hot Chicken” (two pieces of spicy chicken and a side of mac & cheese) for $7.5 and a bowl of gumbo ($4). He gets the smoked peach tea, as well.
A couple with a young child came in and place an order while we were waiting for our meals. They follow an “a la carte” route. They ordered a number of side items, each for $4.
My friend and I make small talk and people watch until…
…the food arrives!
I try the tea first. It is wonderful. The hint of smokiness is a perfect compliment to the familiar charm of the peach. It is both refreshing and inventive.
Then I go for the biscuits…
Warm. Fluffy. Buttery. Substantial.
They come with a side of smoked pork gravy, which I use to dip them in.
These are some damn fine biscuits. They feel like Sunday morning. They are very nearly a meal themselves.
But, I can contain myself no longer.
It’s time for the main event…
The buttermilk fried chicken is truly magnificent. It is crunchy, juicy, and ideally prepared. The key to any fried chicken worth its salt is the breading. And this breading does not disappoint. It has body and flavor and lifts the bird up, allowing it to shine.
And then there is the mac & cheese.
Absolutely no shortcuts are taken during the preparation of this dish
I’m not sure if the tube-shaped pasta is considered penne, but they are large and beefy and allow plenty of interior space for the divinely gooey cheese sauce to hide inside. Every bite is like…KA-BAM!!
To be honest, having this fried chicken on the same plate as this mac & cheese is sorta like back in the 90s when the Chicago Bulls had Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen on the court at the same time. The two are that good together.
I taste my friend’s gumbo. It is rich and hearty and contains generous chunks of okra.
At a cost of $15, this meal way over-delivers on quality, taste, and satisfaction.
To be fair, this isn’t a place one can eat every day. And don’t expect to go there and be able to stick to your diet. But if you are looking for some tasty, gratifying comfort food done with care, this is the spot.
Chef Joseph Zegarac and his staff are doing the Lord’s work at Chow Chow Kitchen.
Do yourself a favor and check them out.
For the full menu and other information, click here.
(P.S.–There are a number of very neat shops within walking distance of the restaurant. One of my favorites is The Mummy and the Monkey’s Thrift Crypt. It is way cool! Click here for more info.)