This week, in my journey to find a five-star meal under $5, I decided to look for a meal related to spring break. With my trip to New Orleans right around the corner, I figured it would be a good opportunity to try any New Orleans cuisine that could be found in Athens before I get a chance to try the real thing.
The Cajun Clucker, an Athens food truck run by a former New Orleans restaurant manager, was exactly what I was looking for. Unfortunately for me, the truck had closed its business almost a year ago.
As an alternative, I ventured away from Uptown Athens to Miller’s Chicken. Although fried chicken is not unique to New Orleans, the city is still known for hosting a fried chicken festival every year. A quick search on Yelp also revealed the city’s love for gizzards from its local restaurants.
Miller’s does not usually get brought up in the conversation about Athens foods among students, probably because it’s tucked away far from campus in the residential areas on the west side. Despite its location, it was listed as one of the best places in Ohio to find wings. Miller’s was founded in the early 1900s by Otis Miller. As of 2015 at least, the restaurant is still under ownership of the Miller family, with his granddaughter Sandra Zoulek running the show.
The menu offered a lot of flexibility, which was a bit daunting at first. Wings are available in combos or piece by piece. After some slow math, I assembled a meal that wouldn’t run over $5: one chicken leg for $1.45, one chicken thigh for $1.45 and a quarter-pound of gizzards for $1.50. A total of $4.40.
The first time I heard about a gizzard was when I told some friends I was starting this column, and they said I had to review a gizzard at some point. I will have to admit, I wasn’t too stoked about the idea of trying part of a chicken’s digestive tract.
But, I was pleasantly surprised by the first bite I took. The crunchy, fried exterior formed a perfect combination with the chewy interior. The texture was unlike anything I have tried before. It was softer than rubber, making it possible to chew, but it was still tough enough that each small piece took a few bites to get through.
The quantity of the gizzards was also pretty impressive. I shared a few in the newsroom and still struggled to finish the last few pieces toward the end of the meal.
The fried chicken was about as perfect as fried chicken can be. There’s not much to say about structural integrity this week. The chicken, as expected, stayed on the bone until I ripped it off. A few fried crumbs also fell off with each bite, but that was to be expected. No complaints there.
The chicken had a few dry, tasteless bites, but for the most part, it was everything I would have wanted out of fried chicken. The crispy exterior complemented the mostly moist interior. The bites alternated between warm and soft or crunchy and flavorful.
In the past, I have always had some sort of dipping sauce for my fried chicken, typically from KFC. Today, that wasn’t necessary. Miller’s didn’t start serving fried chicken until about 50 years after it opened its doors, but I am glad it never stopped. It will be hard to find a fried chicken restaurant, family-owned or chain, that will top what Miller’s had to offer.
But, like every meal so far, even the most perfect experiences can come with some flaws.
The taste of the gizzards was more salty than any fried item I have ever had before. Each gizzard took a few gulps of water to wash down. Although that was not such a bad thing during the meal, it was not as pleasant once the meal ended. With my water bottle empty, and my hands washed dry of any grease, I could still taste the salty gizzard flavor in my mouth. Even as I write this, hours after the meal was over, the taste of the gizzards remain, no matter how much water I drink.
For hitting all the marks but providing just a little too much of a good thing, I give Miller’s chicken an almost perfect score.
Kevin Pan is a senior studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Do you know where can Kevin find a 5-star meal for $5? Tell him by messaging him on Instagram at @thenextbigming.