The Family Chow was hankering for some southern hospitality recently and decided to venture north to try out Hattie’s Chicken Shack in Saratoga. Although the original Hattie’s restaurant has been in operation since 1938, we were in a bit of a hurry and opted for the relatively new, quick service outlet in a strip mall in Wilton. This was our first experience with Hattie’s and we were left wondering how this place had managed to escape our food radar. After all, this is the home of the fried chicken that beat Bobby Flay’s version in an episode of “Throwdown”!
3057 Route 50, Wilton Mall
Food 4.5 C’s (out of 5)
Service 4 C’s
friendliness 4.5 C’s
We arrived on the late side of a Tuesday evening and the Shack was mostly empty, save a few couples seated and a few waiting in line for takeout. The space is southern charm cuteness, with a green and red checked palette and a mixture of wooden bench and silver metal counter and table seating. Early Stevie Wonder was playing at a comfortable volume in the background as we surveyed the chalkboard menu. The very friendly young woman behind the register was helpful in describing menu items and serving sizes. We liked the sound of just about everything, but finally narrowed down our picks, placed our orders and headed to a table.
The soda station was standard, but we did notice a large stand of various syrups for adding to coffee and tea that was unique. We stuck with slightly pricey, but refillable sodas, although we made a note to try the “southern tea” on our next trip. We were seated no more than 10 minutes before our food arrived, piping hot, in metal trays lined with paper. The first thing Dad noticed was the size of his “junior” Chicken Sandwich a very large piece of fried chicken topped with coleslaw and balanced between two ends of a bulkie roll. Before he dove in, we all agreed to try one of the hush puppies while they were still steaming. The golf ball-sized, golden yellow “cornbread balls of bliss” were a unanimous hit. Although they didn’t need it, we also enjoyed them slathered with the honey butter that arrived as a bonus.
Mom was also impressed with the size of her half chicken order, but wasn’t too upset about taking some home to enjoy the next day. Especially since the chicken lived up to its well deserved reputation – perfectly crunchy, moist and tasty. Daughter ordered the quarter portion and thought it was a “normal meal size.” Son also loved his kids’ meal chicken tenders, although he described his fries as “inconsistently salty.” Dad liked the taste of his sandwich as much as its appearance and pronounced it “delicious.” The sides, which we ordered separately, came in convenient to-go containers. The cranberry coleslaw was a mayo-less version that was fresh and crisp, although a little too sweet for Mom’s taste. The red beans and rice had a welcome, spicy kick with contrasting textures between the just-creamy beans and just-tender rice.
For dessert, we ordered two servings of beignets. We were impressed that they were delivered to our table, perfectly timed to coincide with the end of our meal. We were also handed several more to-go containers to wrap up our leftovers. Each order of beignets consisted of three huge triangles of fried dough covered with a mound of powdered sugar. Son described them “like ciabatta bread that came right out of the oven” and Daughter said it was “the best fried dough ever.” Turns out we would easily have been satisfied with sharing one order, but, again, no one was complaining about taking some home.
Hattie’s Chicken Shack definitely satisfied our craving for southern hospitality and comfort food. The service was welcoming, warm and unexpectedly attentive for a fast-food place. The fried chicken was a highlight and has been established as our new standard. For about $60, we enjoyed a delicious meal with plenty of leftovers and plan to make it a regular spot. Overall, we give Hattie’s Chicken Shack 4 C’s for service, 4.5 C’s for family friendliness and 4.5 C’s for food.
The Family Chow hails from the Capital District and review area restaurants based on service, food and family friendliness.