11/30/2012 02:39:00 PM

Best Thing We Ate Last Night: Chicken Cracklins at Hart and the Hunter

The Southern-fried California bistro Hart and the Hunter is one of the buzziest spots in town right now. There isn't much to the space, a shoebox of a room on the ground floor of the Palihotel with seafoam-green tiled walls, caramel-colored leather banquettes, and mismatched plates on the tables. What everyone's going crazy for is chefs Brian Dunsmoor and Kris Tominaga's menu full of things like jarred pimento cheese, country ham and biscuits, fried chicken livers, and hangar steak with soft grits.

We feasted on some delicious plates last night - shaved brussels sprouts tossed with peanuts, cheddar cheese and bacon, among them - but the thing that stood out the most was the first thing that came to the table: chicken cracklins. We couldn't (shouldn't?) eat a plate of deep-fried chicken skin every day, but there is no denying the appeal of the crisp fattiness. These were especially good drizzled with a generous amount of hot pepper vinegar, which comes on the side in a mini jelly jar with holes poked in the top. Gone in less than a minute.

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