a Saratoga treasure
Overall rating on a scale of 1-10
Service 6 •Food – 8 •Ambiance – 10 •Price – $$$
By Victoria Moran
When Hattie's Chicken Shack opened in 1938 by the late Hattie Austin it offered Southern homestyle food 24 hours a day. Since then, their food genre has remained the same, though the name has been shortened, as has the hours.
My husband and I visited Hattie’s on one of those very chilly evenings that ushered in spring. They may not have been expecting the crowd that came in, because they seemed a bit understaffed. It took some time to get a waiter to the table, which is unusual for this very good restaurant. There are about 12 indoor tables and more in the courtyard area for warm weather dining.
We started with mojito’s (a Cuban drink made with rum and mint). Though the season was wrong for such a great summer drink, it was still perfect! Hattie’s generally has a good assortment of unique beers from Louisiana, but since Hurricane Katrina, they are unable to offer them regularly.
Appetizers include southern delights such as catfish fingers, chicken livers, hush puppies and Louisiana crab cakes. We passed on an appetizer, though, because they give you a hearty basket of biscuits and corn bread. They also serve you a small salad with their fabulous homemade salad dressing, an apple cider vinaigrette. This dressing is one of those recipes that you want to request from Gourmet Magazine in their request section—it is truly that good.
As huge fans of any New Orleans style food, it is always hard to choose what to eat. They have Jambalaya, Catfish, Red Beans and Rice, Jerk Chicken, and of course, Gumbo. The Gumbo du jour changes each day. On this day, it was Andouille and shrimp. However, we were in Hattie’s, so one of us has to get their famous fried chicken, otherwise voodoo gods would seek revenge.
For those familiar with Hattie’s, you know that it’s truly the best place to go for fried chicken outside of the Deep South. It was perfectly fried; not at all greasy. Start with a fork, but don’t hesitate to use your fingers! The portions are very large, allowing enough chicken to share with Dan, and still bring some home for lunch the next day. My side dish choices were mashed potatoes and collard greens. The greens, a favorite of mine, were outstanding and had a nice vinegar bite to them.
Dan opted for the Red Beans and Rice, which he loved (what’s not to love when you are stealing your wife’s chicken too?). For an additional kick he added a few drops of Hattie’s own Louisiana Hot Sauce, which is on each table. Often, when ordering Red Beans and Rice the red beans are under or over cooked, but here they are cooked to perfection. His side choices were succotash and candied yams.
We both would highly recommend either of these selections or a combination of both which is available as well.
Some of the uniqueness of Hattie’s is the dining room itself. There are autographed pictures of the many celebrities that have dined there, as well as historical information about the founder and the early years of the restaurant. It gives you a sense of a great food legacy and one outstanding woman who started the phenom of Hattie’s. The last line of a story about Hattie herself reads: “Hattie’s is legendary and continues to thrive and carry on in the tradition of great food, ambience and wonderful hospitality”.
The current owners, Jasper and Elizabeth Alexander, certainly seemed to have done a great job keeping this legacy restaurant thriving.
Total price before tip $46.99.
Hattie’s is located at 45 Phila Street in Saratoga Springs. Hours are: Wednesday-Saturday 5pm-10pm. During the summer they are open seven days a week. For more information call 584.4790.