Melanie Wong | Jan 9, 200106:02 PM     15

What's the big deal about Powell's Place fried chicken? I stopped by Co-A Powell's Place #2 on Vallejo by the police station last night to pick up some soul food before heading home for "Jazz" on PBS. #2 is co-owned by Carl Payne, champion cable car bell-ringer and retired gripman. I'd already been warned that the sides were weak but this is supposed to be the best fried chicken in San Francisco.

I like canned green beans, so these weren't a problem. But the red beans and rice had no flavor at all, lacking even in salt. The warm corn muffins were nice - moist and lightly sweet.

The chicken itself was just average. Juicy enough with a not too heavy batter and good size pieces (3 thighs and a drumstick for a dark meat dinner), but way too greasy. If this is the best entree, I'll pass on trying the rest.

It continues to puzzle me that somewhere like this gets the buzz, whereas S&B Soul Food in San Mateo is unknown. Guess S&B will continue to be my little secret --- one I share with Dusty Baker and Jerry Rice whose autographed pics are on the wall.

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