100 Favorite Dishes

Favorite Dish: Sunday Fried Chicken at Tryst in Delray Beach

Show us someone who claims to dislike fried chicken and we’ll show you a liar.

Fried chicken, in all its straightforward glory, runs the gamut from halfway decent to life-affirming, and nothing is easier or more satisfying than picking up a bucket of fried chicken and eating till your heart’s content (and clogged with cholesterol). Way south of the Deep South, Floridians love fried chicken as much as anyone, yet there are few places that really get it right.

Someone who gets it right — the man who put #friedness on the map in the City of Delray — is chef John Thomas of Tryst.

The chicken is Thomas’ own recipe, a result of some trial and error. Don’t bother asking for white meat, because Thomas believes that dark meat is juicier and has more flavor. He brines chicken legs and thighs overnight in a mixture of black tea, brown sugar, salt, black pepper, cinnamon stick, and thyme. After the chicken comes out of the brine, it’s lovingly patted dry, then soaked in a mixture of buttermilk and smoked paprika. At the moment you place your order (and not a second before that), the chicken takes a roll in a mixture of seasoned flour with a touch of cornmeal (to help with the "friedness," says Thomas), then fried to golden-brown perfection. 

A crisp leg and thigh are nestled beside a fluffy mound of mashed red bliss potatoes — smothered in gravy, of course. The gravy begins with a trifecta of fats – bacon fat, chicken fat, and butter. Flour is whisked in to make a roux, and then it’s finished with roasted chicken stock, caramelized onions, fresh thyme, and bay leaves for a velvety version of a veloute (one of the classic French "mother sauces" made with roux and stock).

Your bird is served with vibrant, still-crunchy haricots verts sautéed with shallots and bits of Neuske’s bacon (arguably one of the best bacons around); a house-made, fluffy buttermilk biscuit; and a complimentary glass of Champagne. You get all of this lusciousness for just $15, and only a fool would pass up a deal like that.

What should you drink with your fried chicken dinner? In addition to the free glass of Champagne, Thomas recommends a refreshing pilsner.

Available only on Sundays, the fried chicken is just one of the rotating specials Tryst is currently running. 

Tryst is located at 4 E. Atlantic Ave. in Delray Beach. Kitchen hours are 5 to 10 p.m. daily. Brunch Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. Call 561-921-0201, or visit trystdelray.com.
KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Claudia Dawson