Calgary 2016: Southern Fried Chicken at Cluck N Cleaver

I seem to eat a lot of fried chicken when I visit in-laws in Calgary. It must be the whole “vacation mode” thing, plus there’s some great Korean fried chicken here. This summer though, I passed on Korean fried chicken and tried the new Southern-style fried chicken place Cluck N Cleaver, opened up by the Gomes sisters (one of whom was on Top Chef Canada Season 3).

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Located just off the popular 17th Ave strip.

Side note: there are two locations of the Korean fried chicken chain Olive Chicken within a 10 minute drive of Cluck N Cleaver. The one on 17th Ave had a message on their signboard that read, “Southern fried chicken has nothing on our chicken!”, or something to that effect. So I guess the gloves are off! (I haven’t actually tried Olive Chicken yet, and have been loving the Shallot Chicken at Yum Yum BBQ the last few Calgary trips.)

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Not sure if the rust and distressed quality on the sign was intentional…I think it sort of looks good?

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The space is small. It’s more of a takeout joint with a couple counter seats. You see this cooler as soon as you walk in.

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The service counter, to the left of the cooler.

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Tight menu. Their full menu is available online too.

Another side note: I came to pick up an online order that I entered through their fantastic website. The site works great on mobile, and I was able to order and pay seamlessly. Their website let me take a photograph of my credit card and it OCRs the numbers so I don’t have to type them in!

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Seasonal cookies for $1.75 each.

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Lots of jokes about how “cluck” sounds like “fuck”.

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AFAIK Mexican Coke uses cane sugar instead of HFCS.

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Interesting. If I drank pop, I’d be into this.

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They have cold fried chicken for sale as well.

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My order in a paper bag.

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Love the branded tape!

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Bagoooock!! Even though Cluck N Cleaver only has one location, it feels very franchise-ready. But unlike a lot of fast food franchises, a lot of effort has been made to prepare everything by hand and from scratch. Kudos on that point.

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Our sides:

  • Green Salad with Tomato, Radish, and Cucumber ($8)
  • Coleslaw ($3 for medium)
  • Chipotle Lime Corn & Bean Salad ($4 for medium)
  • Gravy ($1.75 for small)

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Oh man, that gravy! More about it below, but it’s really smooth and creamy, and not too salty!

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This Chipotle Lime Corn & Bean salad was well-received. Tangy with a little spicy kick. Totally fits the southern theme.

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The Coleslaw had a cumin seed presence that divided the table. I enjoyed the aromatic note it gave to the slaw and to the meal as a whole. A nice counterpoint that was a bit out of the ordinary. Wicca wasn’t digging it.

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Really, I only ordered this Green Salad so I’d feel less guilty about the fried chicken. It’s a fresh, crisp salad.

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I also got four Buttermilk Biscuits ($2.25 each). Great biscuits. Crusty/crumbly, and not too dry. Eat them with butter, or at least order extra gravy to go with these.

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Five Piece Southern Fried Chicken ($16)…

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…and an additional Ten Piece Southern Fried Chicken ($26). I like the size and shape of their boxes. They stack well in the paper bag.

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Crunchy, seasoned batter/dredge/coating. The seasoning is complex and subtle. The batter is thicker and crunchier than say a Church’s Chicken. Not greasy. I like it a lot.

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This is a thigh piece.

Somewhat juicy meat. If the meat were juicier, it’d be an automatic home run. But I can see why restaurants want to err on the side of cooked rather than undercooked. That said, I’ve had plenty of fried chicken that was crunchy on the outside yet remained juicy on the inside, so maybe a tweak to the process or timing is in order. The chicken by itself is a solid good.

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The chicken married with the gravy, on the other hand, is a bit of magic. The feature that stands out the most with this gravy is its outright smooooooth creaminess. Not sure how they achieved it but it tastes like it has a lot of butter in it. The gravy isn’t too salty either, and really matches the fried chicken well, adding moisture and creating a full, symbiotic flavour experience.

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Someone pulled out some watermelon, creating an unintentional stereotype. Someone else also pulled out some cheap Moscato wine. Whatever rocks your boat!

Cluck N Cleaver is recommended. Be sure to get extra gravy!

Cluck 'n' Cleaver Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Date visited: June 25, 2016


Curious about my semi-real-time adventures from this Calgary trip? Check the #DTFinCalgary16 tag on my Instagram account!

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