Linton Hopkins, the man behind Restaurant Eugene and Holeman & Finch Public House, is passing on H&F Bread Co. and opening a chicken stall inside Ponce City Market. The menu is still in the works, but Hop's Chicken will focus on "honest, clean" deep-fried chicken.
"We've got 95 percent of the menu set; I just have to decide whether we're going to have a skillet chicken or not," Hopkins said in an phone conversation with Eater Atlanta Wednesday.
Hopkins is considering chicken biscuits, a chicken sandwich, fresh chicken broth, cole slaw, and macaroni and cheese to compliment the stall's main attraction. Seasonal vegetables will also be available — think tomato and cucumber salad, butterbeans, and lady peas in summer; black-eyed peas and collard greens in winter.
"The only way I know how to write this menu is based on what I like to eat with fried chicken," Hopkins said. "I've learned, even with the [Holeman & Finch] cheeseburger, I can't read people's minds for their favorite things. So for getting in there, it's really just about an honest plate of fried chicken, by the piece."
The plan at Hop's is to avoid getting too cheffy with the menu.
"I go back to gussying it up or layering it on too much," Hopkins said. "There's all these ideas about the seasoning blend, but I keep going back to wanting to be simple. Maybe I'm just going to do salt and pepper. ... I should be able to just wash chicken, soak chicken, toss it in flour with salt and pepper, and fry it. I want to get away, sometimes, from my chef self when I cook some of these classic Southern or all-American kind of dishes, you know, where I'm not putting truffles in it.
"I just want people to say, 'That was an honest plate of fried chicken.' To me, that is the highest compliment."
Hopkins said the Hop's team will brine its chicken, sourced from Springer Mountain, but he hasn't figured out the recipe just yet. He's still working out the price points, but wants everything to be "quite reasonable." As for beverages, Hopkins loves "the idea of champagne and fried chicken," and there will be beer, wine, "ice-cold Coca-Cola," and iced tea and lemonade for Arnold Palmers.
Kitchen leadership hasn't been decided, and Hopkins would like to promote from within his Resurgens Hospitality Group. Executive director of culinary Jason Paolini and assistant director of culinary Russell Hays are helping develop the menu in the test kitchen. The goal is to open this summer, but that target largely depends on Ponce City Market's progress. Check out a preliminary menu for Hop's Chicken below.