We owe this post to PQDad whose wife (PQMom?) told Mrs Columbo about this a few months ago. That’s right, months… we’ve been holding out on you. That’s because there was a split in the Columbo household about the quality, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves. After learning a few months ago that Central (1001 Pennsylvania Ave NW, corner of 11th & Penn) was now offering buckets of fried chicken and mashed potatoes to go we had to give it a try. Even if the surrounding community was glad to see it go, this blog has mentioned the pain we felt when Popeyes left. The lack of good fried chicken has been sorely missed, and attempts to find a replacement have ended with disappointment.
And this is the split in the Columbo household. Central has sold fried chicken for a long time as a dinner plate, maybe since they’ve been open, and we’ve never been a huge fan. Mrs Columbo, on the other hand, loves their fried chicken. So when we found out they sold buckets of the stuff we gave it a go for Mrs Columbo’s sake. The bucket is advertised as a “lunch to-go” special where you can order ahead for pickup. Thirty dollars gets you the six piece bucket of chicken (3 breast & 3 thighs), 6 chicken nuggets, dijon-majo for dipping, and a side of mashed potatoes.
First impressions were good: The plain white bucket is sturdy and fun, the chicken is hot & crispy, the nuggets are cute, you’re given a substantial amount of dipping sauce, and the potatoes… well if you’ve never had their mashed potatoes you are in for a treat (and if you have had them you know they can substitute for dessert).
Those were the first impressions, but the critic in us had a few other thoughts upon closer inspection: The chicken breast, while moist and tasty, is boneless. Outside of a chicken sandwich, who wants fried chicken that isn’t on the bone? [Mrs Columbo, as it turns out, which means probably a lot of other people too]. The dijon-mayo is way too heavy on the mayo, we’d have preferred something tangier like mustard. They don’t allow you to call ahead for the bucket in the evenings, you must order in person; that seems strange but it does give us a chance to down a few Bluesser’s and chat with our favorite bartender Nikki while we wait.
So what’s our final verdict? The bucket of chicken from Central doesn’t call our names the way Popeyes chicken always did, but it’s impossible to give it a thumbs down. When you want a bucket of chicken (even a $30 bucket) you want a bucket of chicken, and now we have that option just a few blocks away. It’s hot, crisp, and comes with the best mashed potatoes around. And really, what’s better than a picnic the next day with cold fried chicken and a bottle of vinho verde?