Thursday, March 14, 2013

Flavor Flav's Chicken + Ribs: Stellar Service, No Nervous Chickens

When America's beloved TV personality and hip-hop mogul, the one and only Flavor Flav, chose metro Detroit for his third attempt at restaurant ownership (the third time's the charm!), it invoked a media frenzy that even got picked up by Eater National. At the very least, it had everyone saying, "Yeeeeeeeaaaaah boyeeeeeeeee!"

Eat It Detroit would be remiss to not feature this truly monumental moment in metro Detroit's culinary history and give it the full respect it deserves. We asked ourselves why, in a metropolitan area where a handful of news outlets routinely run the exact same story about the exact same hot new restaurant a dozen different times with the words in different order and a new would-be food blogger emerges at the same rate that a Detroit politician tells a lie, why has no one properly reviewed this place?

It's okay, guys. We got this.

Here follows the full analysis of EID intrepid correspondent Stefanie Cobb's experience at Flavor Flav's Chicken + Ribs, including her conversation with the man (the myth!) himself:

Photo from EID friends the Rogue Estate
Journeying east on 15 Mile Rd. in Sterling Heights, a suburb of Detroit, I can sense when I'm getting close as the scent of deep-fried barnyard fowl intensifies and teases my nostrils. There is no denying my arrival after spotting Flav’s welcoming grill plastered on the sign out front.

My initial thought after pulling into the parking lot was of the consideration put into adding a drive-thru window for clientele on the go.

The young lady behind the counter appeared to be pleasantly delighted as I wandered through the front door. I think I was their first customer of the day, but appreciated the warm welcome regardless. She waited patiently as I scanned the menu board, finding what most would expect to at an establishment such as this—chicken, ribs and an array of comfort foods to accompany an entrée.

I opted for the already-"famous" fried chicken knowing all of the poultry used in the restaurant is endorsed by the AHA, meaning the chicks were free-range and come steroid- and antibiotic-free. I know, right?

In a follow-up interview with the media mogul himself, Flav claims, “There is a certain kind of LOVE put into my chicken you can’t find anywhere else. You ain’t eating any nervous chickens here.” Rest assured guys: no nervous chickens at Flavor Flav’s Chicken + Ribs.

Pining to take full advantage of my experience, I chose to order a side of the mac and cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy, coleslaw and a biscuit. Jumbo-sized fountain drink in hand, I made myself at home in one of the several vacant booths and took in the ambiance while waiting for my food.

To be quite frank, the atmosphere was a bit modest for what I was anticipating. Let’s just say I was more or less expecting T.G.I. Friday’s on crack. I imagined there to be giant clocks everywhere, gaudy colors, and Flav’s gold-plaited Cheshire grin plastered from floor to ceiling. Much to my dismay, aside from the giant pop art mural of Flav and a couple Viking hat ceiling lamps, the place lacked some much-needed décor. Also, I really hoped there’d be booze on the menu, perhaps something zany such as a drink called the Brigitte Bellini. Purple drank, even. But booze really isn’t something readily attainable at fast-food joints, so I’m not going to hold that against them.

I don’t believe this place normally offers tableside service, but the courteous cashier brought the food right to my table (again, probably because I was the only one in there). Seeing as I came on an empty stomach, I made no hesitation to start gnawing on a drumstick. Although the fried and roasted chicken recipes are Flavor Flav originals, Flav and co-owners Salvatore Ditoni and Gino Harmon worked with culinary professionals to create the rest of the menu. All of the sides are prepared, Flav claims, “in-house.”

Fried chicken almost always wins me over and though it was good, it did lack a little FLAV. The mashed potatoes were, you know, mashed potatoes. The biscuits were comparable to what I’d imagine a deep-fried sponge to taste like, but fairly edible after being smothered in butter and honey. I found no grievances with the mac and cheese; it was certainly the superstar of my soul food spread. Shell noodles rich in cheese and cream. I approve.

EID friends from the Rogue Estate - after
The staff was on top of their game as more customers rolled in. They all seemed genuinely enthusiastic about their jobs, keeping the dining room clean and remaining attentive to the needs of their guests.

The eats were mediocre and there was a shortcoming of some much needed oomph. I was kind of expecting to leave with a complimentary pair of faux gold grillz. And where were all the clocks, Flav? Where were all the clocks?

Despite all that, my first visit at Flavor Flav’s Chicken + Ribs was amusing overall and the hefty portions succeeded in forcing me to loosen my belt. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that third time’s indeed a charm in Flav’s case, as this is his third endeavor in opening a successful restaurant. (His other two closed in less than a year.)

As I’m sure most are wondering, why Detroit? (And by "Detroit," I am of course referring to Sterling Heights.) Believe it or not, Detroit inhabits a large part of Flav’s heart. “Detroit was the first city I rode a plane to when Public Enemy opened for the Beastie Boys at Joe Louis—Detroit gives Flav a lot of love!” So there's that.

“My boys sellin’ G in the Motor City. It is the only place that lets me stand by the water and see a foreign country on the other side.” True dat, Flav. True dat.

Editor's note:
In a previous interview with the Macomb Daily, Flav suggested he might use this new restaurant as a shooting location for a TV show, the "black version of Happy Days." Well spank our asses, it's happening! The Emmy-winning L.A.-based entertainment company William Morris Endeavor will be in town next week to scout and discuss casting (if you want to catch the clock-adorned icon himself, he'll be here March 23), and the "sizzle reel" (industry-speak for "demo") will be shot April 12-14. You heard it here first! Detroit (aka Sterling Heights), get yer grillz ready for your close-up!