I've been going to Rutt's Hut for 30 years. And this week I uttered words that I had never considered uttering, and quite frankly didn't know could be uttered:
"I'll have the basket of fried chicken."
What the what??!?
Let's rewind, to the drive over. The missus, who has been to Rutt's Hut perhaps once in her life, started thinking about what she'd be ordering.
Missus: "What should I order."
Me: "You order a hot dog."
Missus: "What else is on the menu?"
Me: "NOTHING is on the menu. You order a hot dog."
Missus: "Oh, maybe I'll get a chili dog!"
Me: "They DON'T HAVE CHILI DOGS. THIS IS RUTT'S HUT. THE ONLY THING YOU ORDER IS A %@#%&%ING HOT DOG WITH MUSTARD, and MAYBE relish."
This frustrating exchange brought me to the verge of exhaustion. Why doesn't everyone understand the world exactly the way I do? Savages. All of you.
Now we're sitting at Rutt's Hut. At the bar, no less. In the middle of the day, no less. A place I rarely find myself--I'll typically go to the walk-up side of the place and eat my meal in the car. We're looking up at the 70-year-old menu above the bar, snickering about how bad much of it has to be, and the oddly specific pricing ($3.10?). Then the missus spies "fried chicken in a basket."
The missus starts up with "I wonder how--." I immediately go to cut her off. I'm not having any more of this nonsense talk about any non-hot dog food that Rutt's Hut allegedly offers. But then something occurs to me: Rutt's Hut fries stuff up but real good. Who's to say they don't fry up chicken parts just as well?
Ordering the fried chicken would be crazy, I'm thinking. I don't want to waste a meal, skipping my two dogs for some awful chicken. I start searching online for images of Rutt's Hut fried chicken, to get a feel for it. Just to see what it looks like. There's just one. One picture of the fried chicken at Rutt's Hut. On some horseshit site called "food spotting"-- a site that doesn't believe in words, and appeals, I suppose, to people who are attracted to shiny things and don't want to think, although I guess it came in handy at that moment. Has more than one person ever ordered this? Hard to say.
We throw caution to the wind and utter those crazy words. "I'll have the basket of fried chicken."
We wait for the suckers to cool down a bit, and I go right in for the thigh. Holy cow. Great salt, moist, and that coating is spot on stupid crispy. I couldn't believe my tongue. Exactly what I want fried chicken to be.
There was no way I was leaving Rutt's Hut without getting a hot dog, so I stopped after eating the thigh and leg, and saved the breast to take home.
We got our hot dogs and onion rings (should have ordered rippers, as these weren't as cooked as I like) and enjoyed the heck out of 'em.
A few hours later, standing at the kitchen island, we attacked that crunchy breast as a snack before dinner. And it was glorious.
Rutt's Hut : You know where the heck it is : Clifton, NJ