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Nette’s Fried Chicken is down-home comfort food at its simplest

Nette’s Fried Chicken isn’t much to look at. The Main Street storefront is painted red with a large, attention-grabbing sign and photocopied pictures of their wares framing the screen door. The handle is made of gift-wrap ribbon and the handful of seats inside are made for waiting, not eating. If you’re thinking of stopping by for a plate of comfort food, call before you go. The owner closes up shop when she needs to run out for supplies, which is often and unannounced. The food is made fresh, so it can take 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the content and size of the order, so calling ahead is recommended. But in a city lacking a Chick-fil-A and offering few alternatives, Nette’s is not a bad fried chicken fix.

This is down-home comfort food at its simplest. We’re talking collards, yams, fried okra and peach cobbler for dessert. Nette’s offers value boxes, which include fries ($6 for chicken, $8 for fish), snack boxes ($6 for chicken with a dinner roll) and a smattering of Southern soul-food sides. We tried a pair of snack boxes with wings and a breast, as well as a dinner box, which came with enough macaroni and cheese and collards for two people.

The dinner box was supposed to come with a biscuit, but ours included two pieces of store-bought wheat bread instead, a disappointing discovery. The website also advertised chicken and waffles, which is no longer on offer, and the prices are subject to change without notice. Control freaks, skip this one: ordering from Nette’s requires flexibility.

So how’s the food? The chicken tastes like the fryer oil has not been changed in awhile, but the skin did give a satisfying crunch. It was flavorful, without being salty, with a slight sweetness that contrasted our sides nicely. The breast was large and a bit dry, but the thighs and wings came out fine. Collards were melt-in-your-mouth tender with that pork-back salty flavor that had us all nabbing “just one more spoonful.” A mountain of macaroni and cheese was rich and creamy with thick, almost mushy noodles and butter galore. Diet food this is not, but sometimes the soul needs what my dad calls “the heartstopper special.”

The sole flop was those fries – literally. The generous pile of potatoes could have used another minute in the fryer to crisp up, because by the time I got to them, they were flaccid. Next time, I would skip the box and order a la carte. With chicken pieces from $1.50 to $3 and sides at $3 for a small, a quartet can eat for under $20, easily.

Nette’s Fried Chicken

Where: 3118 Main St. (715-9592)

Wheelchair accessible: No

Hours (posted): Noon to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; noon to 5 a.m. Friday; 3 p.m. to 5 a.m. Saturday; and 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday.

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