Why Chicken Spot and Eden Spice belong on your must-try list

The Medusa chicken sandwich topped with mac and cheese, pickled onions and collard greens available at The Chicken Spot. LISA POWELL/STAFF
The Medusa chicken sandwich topped with mac and cheese, pickled onions and collard greens available at The Chicken Spot. LISA POWELL/STAFF

With the national conversation around racial injustice, police brutality and inequality, a pledge has been created with the goal of trying to create a level playing field for black-owned businesses.

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The mission of the 15 percent pledge is to call on major retailers to pledge 15 percent of their shelf space to feature products and items either made-by or supplied by black-owned businesses.

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With 21 percent of black-owned businesses saying they don’t think they’ll survive the pandemic compared to 5 percent of white-owned businesses, organizer Aurora James has said she believes this is a key part of the goal of working to end systemic racism.

 

It’s no secret — where you choose to spend your money and time is one of the most powerful methods of investment that you can make to support your community and its local businesses.

Audrey Ingram has compiled a list of black-owned businesses on Launch Dayton that are doing great things and deserve the community's support and attention (https://daytontechguide.com/if-youre-looking-to-shop-black-owned-businesses).

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She writes, “while this list is by no means exhaustive, we’ve tried to pull together businesses we’ve met/engaged with through Launch Dayton programming/events.”

The lists are grouped into health/beauty/wellness; food and beverage; tech; artist/creatives; services; venues and retail.

In scanning through the food and beverage list I saw two restaurants that are on my list of favorites. If you haven’t been to these two restaurants, you are missing out. They both are currently doing carry-out, and if you make it out to pick up an order you are certainly in for a treat.

Chef Anthony Head of Dayton, owner of The Chicken Spot. CONTRIBUTED
Chef Anthony Head of Dayton, owner of The Chicken Spot. CONTRIBUTED

THE CHICKEN SPOT

On Nov. 3, I wrote about Chef Anthony Head’s restaurant The Chicken Spot, home of what I believe is easily the best chicken sandwich in Dayton. Here’s an excerpt:

The menu is limited to a selection of four chicken sandwiches ranging in price from $8-11 and a vegan plant-based chicken sandwich alternative for $8. I like a restaurant that knows what it does well and The Chicken Spot does and executes accordingly. Its list of sandwiches is simple and straightforward.

• The ChickenHead: 6-ounce boneless chicken breast with pickled onions served on a buttered toasted bun ($8)

• The ChickenHead Deluxe: Take the above and add bacon, lettuce and tomato and a dollop of ranch dressing ($11)

• The Medusa: 6-ounce boneless chicken breast topped with rich cavatappi noodle macaroni and cheese, bitter, kicky collard greens and tart pickled onions served on a buttered toasted bun ($11)

• FireHead: 6-ounce boneless chicken breast sandwich dipped in a Buffalo-style sauce they call Gem City Sauce topped with a dollop of bleu cheese dressing ($11)

• The VeganHead: plant-based chicken alternative topped with pickled onions served on a toasted bun ($8)

Any sandwich can be ordered “WetWet’” dipped in a sauce of your choosing — lemon pepper glaze, Cdubb Gold, Gem City Sauce, Thai Garlic Chili Sauce or Mac N Cheese Sauce.

Sides include those delicious waffle fries, sweet potato fries, which were soggy, desserts and non-alcoholic beverages.

The ChickenHead Deluxe and Medusa are southern sandwich stand-out superstars.

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The sign walking into the building reads: “This chicken be slapping’” and I’d agree. The large pieces of fried chicken in both sandwich masterpieces were flavorful, seasoned and crisp. It’s the kind of chicken sandwich experience that you share with friends after the fact so they too can delight in the perfection; it’s the kind of sandwich you revisit in your mind while you daydream with a smile and, for some, it’s the kind of sandwich that you find yourself in a relationship with. The collard greens and pickled onions were tremendous flavor additions.

That chicken sandwich war that’s been going on? The Chicken Spot wins hands down.

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Eden Spice menu highlights include Theresa’s red snapper with plantains and rice and beans in the background. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY ALEXIS LARSEN
Eden Spice menu highlights include Theresa’s red snapper with plantains and rice and beans in the background. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY ALEXIS LARSEN

EDEN SPICE

On March 15, 2020, the headline in the newspaper read, “Eden Spice is a flavorful revelation.”

Eden Spice, a family-owned restaurant in West Carrollton serving cuisine inspired from Sierra Leone and the Caribbean, is housed in a former Subway. It is unassuming and doesn’t even begin to hint at the dreams and journey that led to its opening. Owner Theresa Barnes emigrated to the U.S. from Sierra Leone in West Africa in 1991.

Here is an excerpt:

“The food at Eden Spice is cooked with love. I will tell someone to come and eat good food like grandma’s cooking — (it’s) fresh,” said Barnes. “I don’t like to brag but customers have told us we have the best Mac and cheese in the world. We have good reviews on Google and Facebook.”

She’s right. The reviews out there — although limited because most people don’t know how terrific it is — are glowing.

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Theresa Barnes (left) with her husband Samuel and daughters and Samenah and Samyatta. The family opened Eden Spice in early January 2019. CONTRIBUTED
Theresa Barnes (left) with her husband Samuel and daughters and Samenah and Samyatta. The family opened Eden Spice in early January 2019. CONTRIBUTED

They speak to the generously large portions, delicious, bold flavors and friendly, helpful service.

All true based on my experience.

The portions are so large you wonder if they made a mistake when the food arrives at the table. The sides are large enough to feed two people. And the best part is quantity AND quality for a very reasonable price. The food really is delicious.

Eden Spice is a great example of why you can’t judge a book by its cover …

Theresa’s Red Snapper ($17), served whole with the head (you can request to have it removed before it’s brought out) was so terrific that I have found myself thinking of it several times since enjoying it several weeks ago. As you order proteins off the menu, you pick the sauce it is topped with — BBQ, Bourbon, jerk, turmeric, Samenah’s hot Buffalo, Samenah’s mango ginger coconut, Samyatta’s pepper chicken (made with peanut butter and spices), Samyattta’s Curry or African stew made with onions, peppers, tomatoes and spices.

We opted for the stew based on Samyatta’s recommendation and between the exciting flavors of that and of the fish it was a dish that was elevated and truly special.

Other highlights are Sam’s curry goat ($17), Sam’s Jerk goat ($17), Sam’s goat Stew ($17) and Sam’s oxtail ($17), all served with two sides.

The sides are also quite delicious, especially the mac and cheese ($5), the plantains ($4) and the coconut spinach ($4).

Vegetarians have plenty to choose from with the restaurants veggie-based dishes made with palm oil including African sweet potatoes ($12), stir fried okra ($12) or black eyed peas and garbanzo beans ($12), all served with the choice of rice or quinoa.

Grandma Tenneh Papaya stew ($12) is an especially important, beloved dish to Barnes, based on the recipe that her grandmother would make for her as a child …

“You need to eat well to nourish your body. My mother taught me to spend more on good food and spent less on clothes,” said Barnes.

Now that’s good advice.

WANT TO GO?

What: The Chicken Spot

Where: 3261 W. Siebenthaler Ave. in the Northwest Shopping Plaza

More information: 937-813-1618 or www.facebook.com/chickenspotdayton

What: Eden Spice

Where: 501 E. Dixie Drive, Dayton

More information: 937-247-9116 or https://edenspicedayton.com