When Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier took the ring March 8, 1971, it was the first time for two undefeated boxers to fight each other for the heavyweight title. And what a match it was — a true display of agility, strength and grit. Although two undefeated men entered the ring that night, only one emerged with an untarnished record. Only one was crowned winner of the Fight of the Century.
But that was the 20th century. It’s high time the 21st century had a fight of similar consequence, don’t you think? And Mayweather vs. McGregor just doesn’t cut it. No, we need something a bit more theatrical, a competition that really taps into the core of what our shared human experience is like, with all of the beauty and tumult and depravity that entails.
We need a brunch battle.
The rules of brunch battle are simple: The same dish (or close variations) from two restaurants will be evaluated and compared. Punches will only be tolerated when accompanied by a ladle. This means that while no one will be slugged, it is highly likely and, indeed, encouraged that everyone will be sloshed. May the most delicious dish win.
Weighing in at the size of two turnips and standing 4 inches tall is Whistle Britches' Chicken Benny. At $14, this hefty boy is a king-sized creation of crunch, cream and biscuits as soft as cotton balls. Whistle Britches uses the brine method for its chicks; the result is meat permeated with juice and a nice briny kick on the back end. And the crust? It's there in all its golden glory, providing each bite with a mighty, satisfying crunch that makes one appreciate his or her molars.
While the chicken and biscuits were good — simple, straightforward, well executed — a smattering of the accompanying pimento cheese reminded the eater to be thankful for the Southern food revolution, for it spurred the Second Coming of Spreadable Cheddar. Some runny yolk from the poached eggs, a little pimento cheese and a swipe of the hollandaise blended with a bold, grainy mustard made the Benny a star worthy of its own opry.
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In the opposing corner, we have the chicken-fried chicken biscuit sandwich from Pier 247. It's just 3 inches tall, but what this open-faced sandwich lacks in height, it makes up for in girth, clocking in at roughly the weight of a newborn baby. Pier 247's biscuits proved incredibly tender and light and were toasted just a hair before being crowned with a slab of fried chicken that hit all the right notes. We're talking moist, well-salted breast meat and a crunchy, craggy crust that really held up to the savory, bacon-loaded gravy running laps around the plate.
Ultimately, both of our competitors put up a strong fight. The Benny's interplay of texture and flavor culminate in a rich but highly palatable dish. And while the Benny is undoubtedly a more refined dish in comparison with Pier 247's chicken sandwich, it is in Pier's lack of pretense that we find our winner. All the perfectly brined chicken and ribbonlike hollandaise in the world can't compete when there is a slab of deeply fried chicken that seems to sigh under the weight of bacon-studded gravy. The uppercut that solidified the chicken biscuit's place in brunch battle history was its price, $12.95.
So there you have it, folks: In the (open-faced chicken sandwich) fight of the (21st) century, Pier 247 takes the title. Just remember what you were doing when you read this because someday no one will ask you about it.
Whistle Britches, 6110 Frankford Road. Brunch is served 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Pier 247, 247 W. Davis St. Brunch is served 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.