It's interesting. I don't think Honey Kettle is as *fine* as Flossie's. The chicken isn't quite as good quality. The batter isn't as finely spiced, and the crispiness isn't as shattering. I don't sit and inhale it with quiet contemplation. Also: Pann's. I admire Pann's more. Their chicken is the more skillfully fried, more perfectly crisp, most intensely chicken-y.
But I want Honey Kettle more. A lot. Often. All my friends I've taken there, we go back a lot. It gets under your skin.
From which I conclude: Honey Kettle has soul. Maybe it's some subconscious wrangling of elements. But Honey Kettle: I crave it. I kind of start driving there automatically when I'm sad.
Maybe: Pann's: finest, most appealing to the high-conscious sensibilities. Flossie's: perfect in every way, but a clean, and a fairly refined chicken. Honey Kettle: straight for the gut, straight for the lizard brain, down-home crunchity satisfaction.
At Pann's and Flossie's, I eat quietly and am spending my forebrain studying and admiring the chicken in all its delicacy. At Honey Kettle, I go with friends, we talk over the chicken, it doesn't call for perfect attention and focus, but I always leave just totally, totally happy.
Also: good macaroni salad.
(I took a Southern girl here, who warned me she had very high standards for fried chicken. On the first bite, she said, "This isn't bad. It's actually pretty good." Grudgingly. Then she fell completely silent, and by the end she was covered in batter fragments, with honey and grease dripping out of her mouth, rubbing her belly and burping. It gets to you, this chicken.)