A Watched Kettle Never Fries – Honey’s Kettle Fried Chicken

Honey's Kettle Fried Chicken, Culver City, CA

Honey’s Kettle Fried Chicken

9537 Culver Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90232

Final Elimination Week, no. 2

Just when you think that the week that lasts longer than a week of tofu, cupcakes that are ordered but not eaten, jellybeans, airport shuttles, salons and strappy sandals is finally over, another week that’s even better kicks off. How could it possibly be better? It’s bigger! It’s badder! It’s five, six, maybe even seven full days of what we have endearingly termed Final Elimination Week here at the Delicious Life.

(As you can see, I like theme weeks – it adds organization to my life.)

After being notified that the very ambiguous “they” (no name, no blame) had a Big Chief pow-wow and decided to “eliminate my position,” I began my three weeks of feigning work in this purgatory that is my corporate equivalent of senior-itis. “They” were being generous, he said, by giving me three weeks notice rather than the heave-ho this instant. Wow, how sweet of them to elminate me, but make it a long, slow, painful death! *grr* I’m not bitter. Really. It’s been great suffocating in my cubicle for your guys! Thanks again, and maybe when I’m cruising through the area in my chauffeured white Bentley to check on my kazillion dollar real estate investments, I’ll pop in to say hi! Maybe. Did I say I wasn’t bitter?

So now, it is a parade of file backups, documentation, knowledge transfer, exit interviews, and all that other HR housekeeping malarky, punctuated of course, by obligatory hasta-la-pasta luncheons with co-workers who are well-wishing on the outside with, “Bon voyage and good luck,” but on the inside, are secretly thinking, “You lucky, unemployment-collecting b*tch!” Tee hee. Actually, they tell me that outright. LOL! I love my co-workers.

Honey's Kettle Fried Chicken, Culver City, CA
if you don’t know honey, now you know

I may not have another chance to come back to this area, so I must go back to the restaurants that I really love, like Fassica. More importantly, I must try all the restaurants near my office here in Culver City that I haven’t tried yet like Honey’s Kettle Fried Chicken. Yeap, that’s pretty much the only one left, since it’s fried and I had to wait for it until after the W for that one. LOL! Coldstone Creamery and Daphne’s Greek don’t count – I can join the chain gang anywhere, even…the OC, for fox ache.

Ah, yes, squandering away my as-of-yet-unearned unemployment checks on lunch. On deep fried fatty katty fish and chips and chicken and a biskit, no less!

Honey’s Kettle Fried Chicken is just a few blocks from the office on Washington Boulevard in the new renaissance area of Culver City’s downtown. We left our office a bit later just to let the usual lunch surge at area restaurants subside, then walked there. I know. I walked. Incredible. Honey’s Kettle is just beyond San Gennaro, and just before what I think will be Benjamin Ford’s new restaurant, Ford’s Filling Station. But I could be wrong – I didn’t bother to go check out the sign on front window.

Honey's Kettle Fried Chicken, Culver City, CA - chicken leg and biscuit
ain’t no thang like a chicken…leg.

Just before 1:00-ish.
It didn’t require much will power on my behalf through the summer to avoid Honey’s Kettle for the W. Honey’s Kettle was one of many in a strange stream of restaurant fires in the spring. They closed, and took a little longer to re-open because I think they turned the disastrous event around and used it as an opportunity to re-model. There’s a cute display in the show window out front with home-y things like a rocking chair and a board game. If you wanted to really feel like you were eating down-home cooking, you could look at the window, but you’d still have to use your imagination. It’s just a window. We walked through the door, under the copper sign with a fat copper kettle.

1:03 pm – Cha-ching
Inside, Honey’s Kettle is clean and bright. The tables, chairs, and the few booths along one side are simple to the point of ikea. It feels like a green and yellow version of In-n-Out Burger. We stood back to review the menu that’s posted on the wall to the right of the counter, letting “regulars” who know what they want for lunch before they even get up from their desk go ahead of us and order.

Honey's Kettle Fried Chicken, Culver City, CA - Coleslaw
i used to think it was COLD slaw

The menu is exactly like any other fried chicken restaurant – meal deals that come with a number of pieces and sides, party packs, and chicken and fish combinations. Everything from a single chicken wing to any of the half dozen sides can be ordered a la carte, even a jalapeno pepper, which costs twenty cents.

We stepped up to the register and ordered. Behind the counter, they really were deep frying foods in small batches in “kettles.” It’s not a gimmick. I was a little impressed, but more relieved since the Porterhouse Combo and drink was almost ten dollars. Sure it’s fish, but for that kind of cash at a counter, it better not be Long John Silver’s.

The menu asks to allow 15 minutes for catfish, so we stepped outside to reserve a seat on the patio. When we had arrived, about half the tables inside were taken, half the tables outside were taken, and by the time we finished ordering, there were several people waitingin line behind us. Honey’s Kettle is popular for lunch. It’s not bursting at the seams, but the register is always ringing. We waited to hea
r the names called over the loudspeaker. My name was on the receipt and the timestamp said 1:03 pm.

1:20 pm – Tick tick tick
I thought I heard my name, so he went inside with the receipt to pick up our trays. He came back out empty-handed. They had called out Sharla or Sandy or something, but not Sarah. I guess I was a little lightheaded because I hadn’t eaten breakfast that morning and had heard wrong. Oh well, it had barely turned fifteen minutes since we ordered, and I’m not that obsessive.

1:25 pm
Have you noticed that about 15 people have gone inside and back out in the last five minutes?

1:31 pm
I looked at my watch. It has been 28 minutes and they hadn’t called my name. I went inside, a little more than curious about who they sent up the river to catch the damned catfish. The food wasn’t ready. I went back outside. I didn’t feel like chatting anymore. I think I was hallucinating because my arm was strangely beginning to look like a drumstick.

Honey's Kettle Fried Chicken, Culver City, CA - French Fries
old, dry, and broken

1:41 pm
Fah-eee-nuh-lee, we sat down with our trays. I won’t go into detail about the sassy comments I made to the girl at the register. Trust me, it’ll just make me look bad here. I wanted to shove the chicken leg down my throat, but I restrained myself for the paparazzi. We had waited thirty eight minutes – that’s almost three times the “allow 15” for katfish. Twenty seconds for a few photos wasn’t going to send me into a starvation coma. I looked at the deeply golden fried chicken, the mix of steak-cut and regular French fries, and the dimpled buttermilk honey biscuit. This better taste like sex.

It didn’t taste like sex.

Normally, when I am beyond starved, even a Nutri-Grain bar will taste like home-made hot apple pie, so I was pretty shocked that Honey’s Kettle Fried Chicken did not taste like the juiciest, most flavorful bird dipped in diamonds and deep fried in liquid gold. It was just… *shrugs* okay. Both the chicken and fish were fried deep dark golden brown, with a few of the usual fry bubbles punctuating the smooth coating. Around the edges, batter had collected just short of escaping into frying oil freedom, creating an extra-thick knobby edge. The fried coating was thin, but rather than light and crispy, it was harder and crunchier. Harder and crunchier than what? Hm, I don’t know – sort of the way expensive shiny black-bag potato chips are harder and crunchier than Lay’s.

The chicken meat was tender, but I noticed that, like butter in an English muffin, a lot of oil had collected in nooks, crannies, and in any air space between the coating and the meat. Each bite was greasy enough that on a few occasions, I was certain that oil had either dripped onto the table or dribbled down my chin, leaving behind a shiny trail that would soon require a heavy dose of Stridex. Great. I eat fried chicken and end up with a pizza face. Perhaps they had not drained the chicken and fish well enough after frying, though I can’t imagine that THIRTY EIGHT MINUTES wasn’t long enough to turn that chicken into a chicken-flavored Snackwells bar.

I didn’t like the catfish in the Porterhous Combination at all. It is a whole catfish, which makes it extraordinarily difficult to eat, even though you use your hands. There are bones. There are fins. There is about what feels like 1 ounce of catfish flesh in the whole thing, and it’s stuck to the bones and the fins. Not pretty. Not tasty. We should have gotten the fish filet.

The French fries were a mix of steak-cut fries and regular fries, but they were broken, dry, and tasted about 38 minutes too old. Something about the broken fries made me feel like they had been scraped from the bottom of the barrel. French fries are French fries, though, so we ate them anyway, dipped in accompanying slightly spicy, very tangy barbecue style sauce. Dipped in the sweet, creamy dressing of the coleslaw, the fries were even better.

The highlight of lunch was the buttermilk biscuit, for which I promptly abandoned the half-eaten chicken. Biscuits are one of my all-time favorite baked goods, and I will admit that I have *ahem* on occasion, driven through KFC wild-eyed and craving-crazed, to purchase a single buttermilk biscuit for thirty nine cents. I said “on occasion,” okay?! Honey’s biscuit is dimpled in the center, which I am sure has some scientific significance. I’m not sure what it is, but I suspect it is the same concept as doughnuts and holes. The biscuit is not as flaky as some others, but it has a finer crumb, making it the most tender biscuit that has ever melted into butter and honey in my mouth.

Honey’s Kettle Fried Chicken tastes good. It is definitely better than Church’s, KFC, and Popeye’s, but I can’t say that it tastes like its prices, and I swear the thirty eight minutes didn’t bias my tastebuds. However, the ridiculous waiting time did taint my overall experience, and that does most certainly influence my decision to return (or not). I am glad that I got to try Honey’s Kettle while still working in the area, because I doubt I’d travel more than five minutes for it in the future. Maybe for a biscuit, but I’ll make sure to call ahead.

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  • djjewelz

    Sarah’s wrecking shop with entries this week! I can barely keep up. Back to work…and you Sarah, back to eating and posting!

  • sarah

    la cheesemonger: which restaurant was it??!?! i don’t remember!! it better not be fioretto, LOL!

    julian: yeah, actually, i gotta stop this eating part. i think i sort did a cannonball into the deep end after the w :)

  • Stephanie

    Sarah, I come here every day just for a the smile I get on my face from your posts.

    Go where you will, eat what you want…just keep writing!

    This housebound mommy who used to have a life needs you!

  • Oliver

    Probably not the healthiest food, but boy does the fried chicken look appealing to me….the best food when one’s a little hung over ;)) (Noo nooo, I sure didn’t say I was…)

  • duckduckgoose

    Calling ahead doesn’t help. The service is just terrible. I sat with the owner talking to him for 30 minutes while I waited for an order I had phoned in a half hour earlier. He knew I was waiting but made no attempt to help out or even check on my order. He even suggested I try the fish and that I should tell them to give me a free order. He couldn’t just grab a piece and give it to me? The fact is he’s a very laid back guy, very nice and says it’s his policy to give people their first jobs. I respect his attitude and policy. Although I hate to wait I think the spices in the batter are perfect and I love the crispyness. I finally tried the fish and loved that too. The day old chicken makes a great sandwich and the prices are extremely cheap.

  • mimi

    OMG-reading about that fried chicken experience made me upset-waiting that long-not great. I LOVE Fried chicken-I am from Atlanta and the best is Fatt Matt’s Chicken Shack…but we can’t go home again. What kind of oil do they use-my best fried chicken is made with buttermilk and deep fried to perfection with rice oil-incredible, not greasy and very heart healthy. I like your postings-they make me laugh and I’m at work and we all need to laugh at work more.

  • Hannah

    I agree with Duckduckgoose. We once called a large dinner order in (party pack of chicken & biscuits, side of pickles, veggie skewers, potato salad, & coleslaw). Went to pick it up 30 minutes later and it still wasn’t ready. Had to wait about 45 minutes for our order, and when we got home, found out they forgot the veggie skewers that we had already paid for. I also thought that the chicken was good but not great, but the biscuits were the best thing. Disappointed that they didn’t provide honey. What’s up with that given their name??

  • tara

    How disappointing! Good fried food can be a revelation, and after all of that I would expect nothing short of a hearald of heavenly angels bringing you the sweetest ambrosia of deep-golden goodness.

  • tara

    How disappointing! Good fried food can be a revelation, and after all of that I would expect nothing short of a hearald of heavenly angels bringing you the sweetest ambrosia of deep-golden goodness.

  • El

    I just had Honey’s Kettle fried chicken today and I thought it was unbelievably delicious! Honest!!!

  • hermz

    Smitty’s… the chicken & fish place in Culver City next to Wendy’s… was a big disappointment also. They must have low standards for fried
    food in CuCi.

  • Anonymous

    just went to honeys kettle in culver…went to get togo, i swore i did, but girl said i didnt, and i asked can u just pack it up, and she acted like i was making her do soooo much more work, they just stuff it in a paper bag !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!, just give me the damn bag then…..
    the workers here work VERY slow, they do not seem to be into their job at all, and quite simply, brings down the brand name. there food may be ok, but its VERY pricey
    you can definately get more food (more tasty) for your buck elsewhere

  • Anonymous

    save your money eveyone and go to Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles. SO MUCH BETTER. SO MUCH NICER. AND THE GRAVY IS THE BESTTTTT.

  • Crystal

    Well this wasn’t what I expected to hear about this restaurant at all.. Down south we take our frying very seriously, so to get a bad report.. well stinks. Maybe they just had a bad day..? Maybe, but not likely. Sorry to hear of your poor experience.

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