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BEST FRIED CHICKEN 

Rye

Critics' Choice

It's practically heresy to serve deep-fried chicken in a town devoted to the glory of the pan-fried fowl, particularly that of the iconic Stroud's. Anyway, it used to be — before Colby Garrelts' 10-month-old Rye restaurant saw its exquisite bird featured on the cover of Saveur magazine. The crispy fried-chicken pieces are more than photogenic, with a crust that's golden and feathery light and meat that's moist and flavorful. Garrelts' laborious preparation process includes brining in sugar, salt and molasses; seasoning with parsley, bay leaves, lemon and oregano; then drying the pieces overnight before frying them to order (not in lard). OK, the pieces are smaller than those bodacious Stroud's breasts. That's because Garrelts uses only free-range Amish, hormone- and antibiotic-free poultry. Giving someone the bird at Rye isn't a chicken-feed gesture — this is the costliest fried chicken in town — but it's worth it.

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