There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who love fried chicken, and me.
I love fried fat as much as the next Kentuckian, but when I heard that a Save-A-Lot had the best fried chicken in Lexington, and perhaps even the known poultry world, I was skeptical. But I love finding inexpensive eats, and a meat and two sides lunch at Save-A-Lot deli on Southland, with cornbread or a roll, is less than $7.
Why you would get a roll is beyond me. The answer is always cornbread, and Save-A-Lot’s is served in rounded, silky patties. It isn’t the purist’s cornbread, with which you can sand off the rocky interiors of your stomach, but I could eat it for every meal.
The Save-A-Lot on Southland is different than the other Save-A-Lot stores I have visited. It is so brightly lit that you could perform surgery, should that be necessary. There’s a tempting in-house bakery and that blessed deli, which in addition to its plate lunches and catering of tens of pounds of chicken, also makes beer cheese for tailgating or whatever excuse you need to have beer cheese. I got the store-made Guinness beer cheese, although I’m told the best-seller is the mild. My advice is, get the Guinness: It’s tangy, and has a lovely side effect of being spicy enough to clear your winter sinuses.
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Now, let’s talk about that chicken, which you can smell from the parking lot. The servers at Save-A-Lot treat you — a walk-in with $7 — like a star in the cheap eats hall of fame: You get to pick your own chicken parts. You can ask the server’s opinion about the best sides. Nobody looks at you sideways when you get a fried chicken plate with macaroni and cheese and banana pudding, which equals exactly 0 vegetables and a couple thousand carbs.
The chicken has something that is just indefinable, but of course I’m here to try: It’s the same breading mix used back when the store was a Slone’s Signature Market. But my palate is not such that I could sense a lot more than salt and pepper and flour: Normally I peel off the breading from fried chicken and set it aside. In this case I was peeling off the coating and popping it straight into my mouth double-quick, because that stuff was gold.
The chicken beneath is moist all the way through. So what we have here is a light coating, a moist mouth feel and an overall feeling that you have died and gone to chicken heaven. I had it twice in one week, and that’s as much fried chicken as I’ve had in more than a year.
On to the sides: The macaroni and cheese walks the line between too-gooey and too runny, and the broccoli casserole walks the same line. The banana pudding is like a warm nap wrapped in vanilla wafers; it should be sold by the quart. The deli stocks some plain vegetables for those who can’t stand that much dairy excitement, but the thing is: Steamed broccoli tastes like punishment. I don’t known why you would torture prisoners when you could just break people by feeding them Brussels sprouts in a steam tray.
Verdict: Get the chicken. Add a cheesy vegetable and a dessert. You will feel better about the world.
Known for: possibly the best fried chicken in Lexington, and generally carb-a-licious lunch plates
Hours: 9 a.m.-7 p.m. deli, 8 a.m.-9 p.m. store
Where: 398 Southland Dr.