I recently sampled celebrity chef Art Smith‘s smothered fried chicken at Art & Soul (as prepared by executive chef Travis Timberlake‘s team). The version here in the District was billed as yet another take on Maryland-style fried chicken, although it varied greatly from the pan-fried ones I’ve previously sampled.
This version was coated with corn flakes, deep fried, and covered in a warm, black-pepper gravy. The bird itself was moist, well-seasoned, and mostly crunchy. But it was also greasy, and the fat under the skin hadn’t rendered completely, a sign that the fryer oil wasn’t at the right temperature. I also would have liked my fried chicken prepared a la minute, rather than being trotted out to my table five minutes after I ordered it. (And, yes, I”ll wait 30 minutes for that.)
I’ve eaten at Smith’s place on Capitol Hill a couple of times now and I have no reason to doubt the compliment that the chef’s former employer, Oprah Winfrey, apparently gave him:
According to the video above, Oprah told Smith he had the “spirit of a black woman living in you.”
I like that quote, but I’d also like to feel more of that soulfulness both in the dining room and on the plate at Art and Soul.