Fried Chicken Worth The Wait: 370 Common

Fried chicken? YES! Wait for it? NO!

Normally, you’d be right. No one wants to wait for fried chicken when that crunchy juicy salty chicken-y craving hits but trust me, 370 Common’s fried chicken is worth that wait.

Wait? Why do I need to wait for it, you ask? Well, it’s only available on the last Sunday of the month, at 370’s prix fixe only, Sunday Social dinners. Chef Ryan Adams started his Sunday Social family style dinners about 2 years ago and they been a very popular dining experience with locals and visitors ever since. Each Sunday, Chef Ryan offers a 5-7 course prix fixe meal served family style, meaning every dish comes as one big plate and everyone passes it around to serve themselves, just like you did as child around the dinner table on Sundays.

Chef Ryan sources most of his vegetables from the local farmers market so the side dishes change with the seasons but the fried chicken is always on that last Sunday’s menu.

Cucumber Tomato Salad

Cucumber Tomato Salad

First up on this occasion, the Cucumber Tomato Salad was fresh with herbs, a bright zip from the vinaigrette and silky from the avocados’ buttery nature. The crunch from the cucumbers (hidden under the arugula) and radish lent a nice contrast in textures along with the mini crunches of the toasted bread crumbs. To top it all off with a personal favorite, crumbled goat cheese, made me a very happy eater.

Carmelized Onion Corn Bread

Caramelized Onion Corn Bread

It’s hard to describe this dinner surprise as it wasn’t listed on the menu but all I can say is a resounding WOW. Corn Bread like you’ve never had it before. It was so light, fluffy almost and incredibly tender and moist. The caramelized onions sprinkled over the top before baking, so they’d sink into the corn bread crust, just added to the bread’s gentle sweetness. Maldon Salt with fresh ground pepper & herbs sprinkled over the butter pats secured my love for this corn bread.

Pork Belly Braised Greens

Pork Belly Braised Greens

Pork Belly Braised Greens…that pretty much says it all. Greens are greens to me, I generally enjoy them as much as the next guy, but braise them in a little pork fat from the belly (fresh un-cured bacon, if you’re not sure what that is), toss in some chiles for a little spicy kick and you had me at…well, pork belly.

Green Beans with Crispy Garlic & Shallots

Green Beans with Crispy Garlic & Shallots

Garlic Mashed Potatoes & Gravy

Garlic Mashed Potatoes & Gravy

Green beans and mashed potatoes have always been a huge part of the sunday dinners my mom used to make and these at 370 Common elevate the classic dishes to the next level. The Green Beans with Crispy Garlic & Shallots are perfectly cooked to retain a gentle snap while the Garlic Mashed Potatoes & Gravy are the best classic rendition you’ll have tasted. The gravy is rich & deep in flavor from the chicken stock made in-house. We scraped that serving dish clean.

Bucket of Fried Chicken

Bucket of Fried Chicken

Damn Good Fried Chicken

Damn Good Fried Chicken

Here is what you’ve been waiting all this time for (has it been a month already?), FRIED CHICKEN!! And damn good fried chicken at that. It’s perfectly crispy, perfectly juicy, perfectly tender, perfectly season and well, it’s just perfect fried chicken. I tried to get Chef Ryan’s secret seasonings and technique out of him, but he wouldn’t budge at my pleading. How fun though, that it comes to the table served in a paper bucket, an ode to KFC perhaps, that helps solidify the feeling that you are at home with family, eating a comforting meal.

Slaw and Spicy Honey

Slaw and Spicy Honey

The fried chicken is served with a side of slaw, nicely crunchy and mildly sweet along with a ramekin of spicy honey for dipping your chicken in. Originally, it was served drizzled over  the fried chicken but is now on the side for those who prefer their fried chicken without, as I do. Good call Chef.

Ginger Pear Cake

Ginger Pear Cake

As if I’m not already stuffed and very very happy about it, out comes dessert. The Ginger Pear Cake is a beautiful dish to end the meal. It wasn’t too sweet, almost gooey moist, with the toasted top giving an enjoyably tensive chew. The zing of the ginger was gentle enough to not overpower the mild tasting pears. This is the one dish that did not come “family style” though if it had, I would have cut myself a huge piece.

Chef Ryan used to offer his fried chicken just every once in a while, it was quite random. You had to have signed up for the 370 Common newsletter (be sure that you do ASAP) to know when it would be on the Sunday Social Supper menu. I thank him for listening to his diners who clamored for it more frequently, so now every last Sunday of the month it is, bravo! It truly is worth the wait.

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www.370common.com

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Quick Apple Pie and Cider run to Julian, CA

It was a beautiful first day of fall morning and my buddy Jason of http://saturdaynightfoodies.com asked if I’d accompany him on a run out to Julian, CA to grab some cider and apple pie before the weekend crowds descend to congest this tiny yet quaint village for the seasonal pies they are known for. Julian is located just south of the Volcan Wilderness Preserve, in San Diego County, it’s a quick and scenic two hour drive from home in Orange County.

After an hour on the freeways and an hour on a single lane, scenic mountain road, into Julian we arrived. Sure enough, since we left at 8am, the village seemed almost deserted. Church hadn’t let out yet and the tourists hadn’t quite arrived from sleeping in on a Sunday morning. We hit the Julian Cider Mill General Store to sample cider and apple butters before purchasing gallons and jars of both, and with that we are done with Julian, out of town we go.

The most beloved of the apple pies available in Julian are the ones made by Mom’s Pies http://momspiesjulian.com on Main Street but what many seem to miss (by the crazy long lines snaking out and down the sidewalk) is that they have an outpost just outside of town that most pass on the way into town, same deliciousness, no wait.

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It’s a cute & cozy place with friendly helpful staff. The crumb topped apple pies we ordered still needed 15 more minutes in the oven (can’t get any fresher than that) so Jason and I opted to kill the time with slices of pie and cups of fresh apple cider. They have a peaceful herb, flower & fruit tree garden with picnic tables to enjoy your sweet finds in, with bees-a-buzzing and birds-a-flitting, it’s a truly enjoyable eating location.

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Since I was buying two whole pies of my first love , apple, I opted for a slice of my second love, strawberry rhubarb. It wasn’t too sweet and was well balanced between the rhubarb and strawberries. With our pies hot & bubbly from the oven, we get back on the road for home.

Jason was also looking for raw honey for him and his wife’s many craft cocktail experiments and recipes. We found it at the tiny Hwy 78 roadside Trumper’s Honey & Fruit Shack in the township of Santa Ysabel.

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Walking into this tiny wood structure (it truly is a shack) we are a bit overwhelmed by the bottles upon bottles of the different honeys. There are about 8 to 10 honey bottles to sample of their many flavors (avocado, chipotle, habanero, citrus, lavender and others). I purchased one of raw orange, it was bright and beautifully light on the tongue.

They also sell quite a few different and unique meat jerky with boar, ostrich and kangaroo catching my attention. I’m not normally a jerky fan, but any chance to try an “exotic” meat in a unique form, I’m totally game. They have samples of the beef flavors to try but since the kangaroo was a new item, the owner had opened a package to try himself and was happy to share it with Jason and I. It was different than any meat jerky I’ve had.

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It was tender and the flavor was specifically marsupial (or so I’ll assume). I liked it and loved the lingering black pepper warmth throughout my mouth. I had to buy a package, now let’s see who will try it with me.

What a fun day to kick off the Fall season and with it still early in the apple season, a return trip may be just around the corner.