93. Fried Pickles–Chips, not Spears

12 Apr

Ever since I moved to Seattle, the 5 Spot has been one of my favorite restaurants. Along with their eclectic selection of American comfort foods, they feature special regional menus that change every few months. And it’s not just the menu that changes, y’all; they redecorate the whole restaurant (including the bathrooms). You’ll find all manner of kitch from the featured region like Mardi Gras beads and masks for New Orleans or the particularly impressive donkey and elephant paper mache mobiles for the Washington, D.C. theme. (I couldn’t resist the Marion Barry Cakes – pancakes covered in marionberry sauce and topped with candied macadamia “rocks” and a sugar crystal butter ball. Dee-Lish-Us!)

What does any of this have to do with fried pickles? Well, I’m getting to that. But first let me tell you about what goes on in the restrooms. Or one of the things, anyway. As soon as you walk in, you’ll hear a bad radio drama that will sound vaguely familiar. It will probably take a few moments to figure out what this is supposed to be, unless you cheat and look at the sign on the wall that tells you. The first few times I encountered this, I thought it a travesty that someone would butcher classics like “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” or “Charlotte’s Web.” Then I found out who was doing it: the 5 Spot staff. How loveably dorky!

Now to the fried pickles. Many years ago, I spotted fried pickles on the 5 Spot menu. “Hallelujah!” I shouted (inside my head), and promptly ordered a batch. Imagine my surprise when what arrived at my table were not crispy, delicious, deep fried dill pickle chips. No, folks, these were spears. Spears!! After a few mishaps such as this (I can’t even talk about the Fried Catfish Incident), I’ve learned not to order anything the 5 Spot tries to pass off as “Southern.” (With the exception of the fried chicken from their regular menu. It’s actually pretty good.)

If you’ve never had Southern-style fried pickles, you might be wondering why spears would be so appalling. After all, they’re still pickles. They’re still deep fried. Yes, yes, but spears and chips are worlds apart when it comes to pickle/batter ratio. In my mind, there’s no such thing as too much batter. I’m still waiting for the restaurant that will sell fried chicken, minus the chicken. Don’t get me wrong. I like chicken, but I LOVE the battered and deep fried skin.

Good news: They DO sell fried chicken skin.
Bad news: In Malaysia

Given the popularity of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, this ought to be a no-brainer. I mean, what do they do with all the leftover skin? It’s 2011, y’all. How is it possible that nobody has invented chicken rinds?

Some of the best fried pickles I’ve ever had came from Kismet’s, a little hole-in-the-wall Greek restaurant in Brandon, MS, of all places. If you like regular fried pickles and ranch dressing, wait till you try their version with Greek seasonings and feta dressing. Yum!

I wish I could tell y’all where you can get some tasty fried pickles around here. Alas, I do not know. The ones at The Counter are semi-decent, emphasis on “semi.” After a quick search, I found folks on Yelp raving about the fried pickles at The People’s Pub. Just when I was starting to get my hopes up, I learned that they serve SPEARS. Sorry, Seattle Yelpers, but y’all don’t know what’s good!!

Photo Credits, Flickr Creative Commons: Chips basket and pickle spears by Robyn Lee, chicken skin by Phil Lees.

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22 Responses to “93. Fried Pickles–Chips, not Spears”

  1. Tori Nelson April 12, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

    Fried pickle spears are pretty much sacreligious!

    • Kim Holloway April 12, 2011 at 4:42 pm #

      Amen!!

  2. delightfuleccentric April 12, 2011 at 2:35 pm #

    I always said the problem with spears is the liquid to dry ratio. One bite of a spear, and all the good stuff (the fried stuff) crumbles away, and you’re left with…a spear. Chips are the ONLY way to go. And I’ve learned my lesson – I ask first, so as not to be surprised.

    • Kim Holloway April 12, 2011 at 4:45 pm #

      You’re so right about the liquid to dry ratio. I, too, investigate the nature of the fried pickles before ordering.

  3. Jennie April 12, 2011 at 5:37 pm #

    For some reason, fried pickles actually sound good, if they’re dill. I love fried green tomatos so I’d probably like those too….

    • Kim Holloway April 13, 2011 at 12:08 am #

      Oh, yes, they must be dill. I’m not sure why they make any other kind of pickle.

  4. sneaux April 12, 2011 at 8:14 pm #

    What timing with this post ~ just what I’ve been craving for a couple weeks now. I would LOVE to try the Kismet version. Those sound amazing! Must peruse the Little Rock market for somethin’ similar.

    • Kim Holloway April 13, 2011 at 12:09 am #

      Good luck on your quest!!

  5. Sherry April 12, 2011 at 8:17 pm #

    http://blog.thenewstribune.com/tntdiner/2010/05/07/5565/
    In Tacoma you have a choice of chips or spears. C’mon down South!

    • Kim Holloway April 13, 2011 at 12:22 am #

      Oh dear, “koolickles”? In my mind Kool Aid + pickles = gag reflex.

      • Sherry April 13, 2011 at 12:46 am #

        Kool Aid???? I must have missed that reference.

      • Sherry April 13, 2011 at 12:48 am #

        Have no fear- they aren’t here- you have to go to Mississippi for those nasty things.

        • Kim Holloway April 13, 2011 at 12:56 am #

          I’m happy to report that during my 24 years in MS, I never once encountered koolickles. And hope I never do. Ick.

          • Ed April 14, 2011 at 1:32 pm #

            There are some that don’t like this place, but I have eaten great fried pickles (chips) at just about every Hooters restaurant, from border to border, coast to coast !! There is a Hooters in Seattle and Tacoma. Happy eating. (get them to go if the Hooters scene isn’t for you, but give them a try)

  6. Regina April 14, 2011 at 10:34 am #

    I live about 2 miles from Kismets, they do have great fried pickles! The only “koolickles” I’ve ever heard of around here are in north Mississippi. 1 huge jar of whole pickles with a cup of sugar and a packet of red cherry koolaid in the pickle juice…eww!! The only reason I know that is because it was on the Food Network. Sounds gross, I won’t be trying that. But fried pickles are amazing (chips, not spears)!

    • Kim Holloway April 15, 2011 at 11:47 am #

      Koolickles are quite possibly the grossest food-like substance I’ve ever heard of. And I knew a guy who liked to mix bananas into his tuna salad.

    • Kim's Sister April 29, 2011 at 7:50 am #

      Okay how crazy is it that on my sister’s blog from Seattle I find another person (who I don’t think that I know – we have common friends on here, but I don’t know a “Regina”) who lives right down the road from ME! I live about 5 miles from Kismets!!!! I will agree that their pickles are good…but I prefer their sweet potato fries (Kim, you should write about those!) And the whole reason I know about the Koolickles are from Alton Brown on his road trip up the Mississippi river too!!! I believe he found those somewhere in the Delta. My moment from that series was when he got meat (spaghetti with meat sauce) as a side dish.

      • Kim Holloway April 29, 2011 at 11:25 am #

        It’s a small world after all…

        I don’t think I’ve had Kismet’s sweet potato fries, but I’m not particularly a fan of fries in general, except for the shoestring kind.

        I told Geoff about the spaghetti with meat sauce side dish, and he was horrified. Would you believe he doesn’t consider mac and cheese a vegetable?

  7. Suzanne May 29, 2011 at 6:29 pm #

    I’ve had fried pickle chips at two places in the area, but neither lives up to the ones I used to get in Indiana. I’ve not had them any further south, so I have no idea how those compare with your ideal. They sound similar though. Anyway…the first plac I tried was Hamburger Harry’s in Edmonds. The batter is not too far off, but overall, they were soggy. Also, the sauce was kind of weird. I’m used to a horseradish based sauce or ranch. IIRC, they served a sweet mustard. The second place I tried was Rainin Ribs BBQ in Lake Forest Park. This place has a lot of traditional southern food, btw. Their batter had corn meal in it (or maybe they were rolled in it?) which seemed a little weird to me…but they were served with ranch and not too bad. Pickles were a bit thin too, I think. Here’s the thing though: I spoke with the catering manager (Lisa, I think), and she was very interested in input. If you have ideas how to improve her fried pickles, I’m sure she’d like to know. 😉

    • Kim Holloway June 2, 2011 at 10:51 pm #

      Thanks for the report!

      I’ve been to Rainin Ribs once and wasn’t overly impressed, but your description of their fried pickles has intrigued me. I’ll have to give them another shot sometime soon. At least for the fried pickles…

  8. Anonymous July 10, 2011 at 7:51 pm #

    … I myself have never had fried pickle “chips” .. lol they are always spears here in Ohio.. and very yummy!

    • Kim Holloway August 8, 2011 at 10:51 am #

      I guess maybe it’s a southern thing to get the most amount of breading covering the least amount of vegetable…

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