BEST FRIED CHICKEN - 2005
www.mwoods.com Italy has its pollo fritto, Vietnam has its gá xaó, and Austrians cook up a mean wiener backbendl -- Southerners were not the first people to fry chicken, they just do it better than anyone else. There really aren't many authentic Southerners behind Miami's restaurant stoves, but luckily you need only one to turn out a great fried chicken, and we've got Marvin Woods. Mr. Woods, whom locals remember fondly from stints at his restaurant Savannah and the National Hotel, specializes in Low Country cuisine from the coastal plain between Charleston and Savannah. At his casually chic Restaurant MWoods, Marvin conjures a "crispy flash-fried yard bird" that exhibits the two simple characteristics one seeks but rarely receives in Southern fried chicken: greaseless, golden brown, crackling crust on the outside and moist, steamy meat within. The flavor is uncharacteristically delicious, owing to a 36-hour marinade in buttermilk, celery seeds, paprika, nutmeg, chili, and cayenne. In place of predictable corn-on-the-cob and coleslaw, Woods's birds soar with stone-ground grits and "circuit hash," an old-time bastardization of "succotash," this buttery version mixing corn, mamey, red peppers, rosemary, and thyme. The $21 price is more than you'll spend at a greasy spoon or fast-food franchise, but the real deal always costs more than the pretenders.