Luther's Chicken recently opened for business inside Dundas West hangout Churchill, dishing out delicious fried chicken inside a small concession stand located within the bar. If you're interested in chilling at Churchill and grabbing a drumstick, though, you'd better hurry. Given how good the food is, it's only a matter of time until Luther's follows the Caplansky's path and strikes out on its own.
Co-owners Kyle Hough and Knickoy Robinson (Luther is, alas, fictional) knew the folks at Churchill, and decided to take advantage of Churchill's underused kitchen by starting up their own place. The result is Luther's Chicken, which serves up chicken, biscuits, gravy, sides and other traditional southern fare.
The buttermilk fried chicken ($13 large meal/$7 small meal/$38 8-piece bucket meal) is, understandably, the star of the show. The bird bits are brined for 24 hours, breaded with a buttermilk batter, and deep-fried to crispy perfection. The crunchy and flavourful crust is a perfect contrast to the almost impossibly juicy and moist chicken hidden within. Beyond texture, though, this is just good-quality chicken, with real depth of flavour and a meaty, lasting aftertaste - assuming you can stop eating long enough to enjoy it.
If you prefer to keep your hands clean you can always try the chicken sandwich ($8, Wednesday only), which includes lettuce, tomato, pickles and a mayo-based sauce with fried chicken on a nice roll. It's a good sandwich - in no small part to the chicken. But given the quality of the fowl it's almost a waste to adulterate it with the other ingredients, no matter how good they are.
Luther's even offers an option for vegetarians, though perhaps not those of the health-conscious variety. Popcorn "chicken" tofu ($11 for a meal) is a pretty reasonable approximation of the deep-fried experience, with firm - but not hard - blocks of tofu enveloped by the tasty buttermilk breading. The tofu isn't as exciting as the chicken, a natural limitation, but the dish is about as good as it gets in the chicken-fried vegetarian department.
Sides at Luther's receive the same thought and care as the chicken, and meals fortunately come with two of them ($3-4 on their own), as well as a buttermilk and green onion biscuit ($2). The biscuits are more fluffy than flaky, with bits of green onion adding a bit of zing to the tender and delicious soft buttermilk biscuit. Macaroni salad, zipped up with a slight oniony bite, is another winner.
Smoked ham collard greens are another excellent offering, as the nutty, warm greens meld with the meaty ham to create a rich, flavourful pairing. Skip the less adventurous green beans, though - they are, like everything else, perfectly cooked, but the other offerings are better. French fries ($3/$5) are more than serviceable, thin and dense rather than thick and fluffy, and elevated when paired with the rich, herb-y chicken gravy ($2).
While the space in Churchill is very attractive, be forewarned: The bar isn't exactly bursting with room, and tables were lacking on our visit (a Raptors game had something to do with that, to be fair). Fortunately, takeout from Luther's is an option for those that can't wait, though you are - of course - best served by eating the fried food as quickly as possible.
You can sit at the bar with a pint while you wait and salivate, though; the chicken does takes a bit of time to come out, hot and fresh and cooked from scratch as it is. Be prepared to wait longer once the word starts to spread - this is seriously good chicken.
Luther's Chicken is open 5 pm-1 am Wednesday-Sunday. Photographs by Eric Whist and Anders Whist. Yell at Anders on Twitter.