I met a friend at Joella’s the other day for lunch. Man, people in this town certainly like a new place! The line at lunchtime was literally out the door of the restaurant. My friend was running late though so I went ahead and got in line. The line moved pretty fast, but still took 15-20 minutes to get through. There was no problem at all getting a seat once you placed your order though s it seems to be pretty efficient as far as moving people through.
I had plenty of time to look over the menu. I settled on the “Pick a plate” with a quarter dark meat chicken ($8.50 with one side included). I added a side for an extra $1.25. You also choose your heat level and I went with “Ella’s favorite,” which is “just a touch of heat.” For my sides, I had the kale salad (because I saw them making it on a tv feature and was intrigued) and the Parmesan garlic fries (+.75). My friend also had the quarter dark, a touch hotter, and got mac and cheese and green beans.
I liked the chicken. It was very tender and had a nice slightly spicy flavor (I ordered it that way so I was pleased with it). I am still unsure whether I prefer my chicken to be spicy due to a sauce on the chicken, or because of seasoning in the breading, but that is clearly a personal preference. I was impressed that the skin remained pretty crunchy despite the sauce. The pieces were a bit on the small side, although someone else’s plate of wings was huge. Maybe that would be the way to go, even though I generally prefer dark meat. Loved the pickles served with the chicken, and you can order extra for .35 (I did). I would be intrigued to try some of the sandwiches as well. They have some nice options (chicken and pimento cheese perhaps?)
I enjoyed the fries as well—they had a rosemary and Parmesan seasoning and I thought that was tasty. They were thin and quite crisp, which is how I like them. I didn’t care for the kale salad as much as I hoped, as it had more of a sweet taste because of the abundance of currants that were in it. I had seen them make it with a lemon juice dressing and was hoping for a bit more acid. Also, it ends up more like the texture of greens (kind of mushy) rather than a salad. I think my favorite were probably the fries and the mac and cheese. The mac was pretty straightforward but hit the spot with the chicken. The green beans were fine, but had that kind of mushy cafeteria texture.
All in all, I would try it again with some adjustments. I’d maybe add a third piece of chicken or get a sandwich. I’d probably stick with fries or mac and cheese. Also, I will wait until the hype dies down a bit, because I’m not that patient about waiting in line. It’s solid, and a nice addition to that area of town that doesn’t have a ton of options, but I’m not sure it makes me want to wait that long in line.
Joella’s Hot Chicken
4715 East 96th Street