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Three Men and Some Barbecue 

by Michael Bowen, Mike Corrigan and Joel Smith


CHICKEN-N-MORE


414 W. Sprague Ave. * 838-5071


"This smells just like Memphis," said one of our crew moments after entering Chicken-n-More's new location (just a half-block east of the old one) in the Mootsy's block on Sprague. Here's another sign that the Chicken-n-More aromas are fine: When we brought our edibles back to Inlander HQ for the consumption-and-evaluation part of our work day, coworkers flocked around to see what was for lunch. Once they saw and smelled, there were a lot of knowing grins: "Mmm, Chicken-n-More." It's a small joint -- just four tables and four booths -- but pictures of the Cotton Club and Jackie Robinson provide a sense of authenticity. As smooth jazz wafted through the aromatic air, Louisiana hot sauce beckoned from each table. -- MB





Fried Chicken Dinner ($5.49)


And yea, mine eyes did behold a most pleasant and mouth-watering sight spread out before me, a plump chicken breast, along with a wing and a drumstick, all wrapped in a lightly golden coating. Fried chicken quite simply doesn't get any better than this: tender and juicy on the inside with a delicately crispy skin that was as easy on the oil as is possible with such cuisine. So delicate and delicious it was, in fact, that when everything else had been consumed, I found myself going back to nibble at the crispies I had dutifully removed at the outset of the meal. (It was a three-napkin job.) The barbecue beans were also heavenly -- zesty, slightly smoky and not too sweet. Chicken-n-More scores once again. (MC)





Rib Dinner ($11.69)


Just the other day, Mike and I were talking about how we rarely eat ribs because it seems like their ends never quite justify the means. That is, they're a lot of work for only a little delicious meat. That's not really a worry with these babies, though. Chicken-n-More's ribs are huge, and the meat is plentiful. I mean, a couple of these are just big fingers of meat with no bone at all. Damn! Swimming in a sea of this deep tawny sauce that almost perfectly walks that tightrope between sweet, salt and spice, they were alternately chewy, crisp and meltingly soft. All I need now is a bottle of Shiner Bock and a Marcia Ball record. (JS)





Catfish Dinner ($10.29)


My mouth was on fire. It must've been some secret ingredient in the catfish, which was lightly fried but not blackened. With its perfect crunchiness on the outside and light flakiness on the inside, this was exceptionally good catfish. Inlander folk clearly don't know their soul food, however, because everybody made faces at my choice of side dish. Now, collard greens may resemble trampled garden mulch, but these particular greens were succulent and flavorful (if too salty). The chili was runny but good without being too spicy -- which is saying something, because, as Mike commented, "everything's too spicy for a baby-mouth like you." Still, on the Cajun highway of life, I want to take most of my rest stops at Chicken-n-More.





Red Lion BBQ & amp; Pub


126 N. Division at Main * 835-LION


The Red Lion has the atmosphere you'd expect for a downtown barbecue-and-pub joint: lots of exposed brick and dark wood, 11 TVs just in the bar, walls plastered with sports memorabilia. In the hallway near the pool table, there's a collection of historic photographs including the "Spokane Parcel Service, 1921": three guys straddling bikes and sporting floppy aviator goggles. Service was slow, and I caught nearly three innings of the Yankees and Red Sox before our take-out order was ready. (Turned out five men had pre-ordered lunch: heaping plates of fried 'n' greasy this-and-that.) We got the Super Combo with three meats and side dishes (including fried bread and onion rings) for $21.95, so no individual prices here. -- MB





Barbecue Ribs


I'll admit, I'm something of a fusspot when it comes to ribs. I prefer pig to cow. And I like 'em lean and meaty. I mean, if I'm gonna go through the hassle of gnawing bones to get a mouthful of flesh, well, there better be a mouthful of damn good flesh waiting for me there at the end of the process. The Red Lion ribs I sampled seemed a bit overcooked, leaving the meat rather chewy. The ribs were also quite fatty, although I did happen onto a few pockets of tasty, tender bits. The sauce they were coated in was quite good, with a nice balance of sweet and peppery flavors. (This amounted to a four-napkin job.) And the coleslaw certainly had kick -- in the form of way too much vinegar, which, unfortunately, overpowered its presentation. (MC)





Barbecue Chicken


Bowen hates it when people use this expression, but this meal just didn't do anything for me. Everything was quite good, but not quite good enough to be satisfying. The barbecue-baked beans were thick and sweet and nicely structured, flavor-wise. But they lacked any edge. Same goes for the barbecue chicken, really. The meat was tender, savory and plentiful on the bone. The liberally slathered barbeque sauce was rich and sweet and created a pleasing aftertaste. But without something to balance it out - a lash of spice, say, or a puff of smoke - the sweetness was unfulfilling. Not that subtlety's a negative. On the positive side, a little drizzle of honey on the fried bread brought just the right touch of sweetness to the bread's modest flavor. (JS)





Salmon Filet


The Lion's salmon was pink and flaky, just a tad dry but intriguing with its pepper and dill sauce -- quite a contrast from the heaviness of the (very good) barbecue sauce slathered on the ribs and chicken. Because it had plenty of fresh celery, the potato salad had lots of crunch, though it left a bit of a sour aftertaste. The beer-battered onion rings may resemble brown seaweed, but they're quite tasty -- and it's amazing how they generate a crunchy mouth-feel despite being laden with oil. The fried bread was surprisingly spongy and light -- empty a honey packet on top, and it tastes almost like some kind of doughnut. (MB)





Publication date: 04/14/05

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