Prohibition was a period when America was dry. Prohibition Chicken, however, took dry in a different direction.

Not even thorough service, a warm atmosphere and a unique theme can save a restaurant from serving mediocre entrees.

Prohibition Chicken got everything right — well, most everything.  

The staff was kind and effectively used teamwork to make sure guests were taken care of. The aesthetic was heavily wood-trimmed and cozy. (“Southern chic,” my date called it.) The libations were well-crafted and numerous in options.

But these hold little weight when the chicken, the namesake, my main reason for walking into this fine establishment, is lackluster.

Prohibition Chicken is primarily a dinner spot, but it recently added lunch hours to its Fridays. (Photo by Christina Ulsh)

Prohibition Chicken, which opened in Old Town at the end of April, is a 1920s-themed eatery that serves various family-style dishes and beverages. It supposedly has a speakeasy through the phone booth, but word around the front-of-house is it isn’t open on weekdays.

Attempts to sneak into a hidden part of the restaurant through the booth confirmed either this was the case or that I look like a snitch who couldn’t be trusted.

Old Town was alive with activity on this particular Tuesday evening. Church Street was shut down for the farmers market and Wayne Ferguson Plaza was overflowing with concert goers getting their Rolling Stones fix.

The fried chicken spot at the corner of Church and Charles had a bustling dining room, with most tables seated. The cool summer evening lent itself to the open garage door connecting the wraparound patio and the indoor dining area, allowing the sounds of Lewisville to intermingle with the overhead tunes and customer chatter.

Regardless of the near-full tables, we were seated promptly. As we waited for the preparation of our table by the original host, we were greeted twice more by other staff members who wanted to make sure we weren’t left hanging.

While I found the wooden barrels and moonshine jugs decorating the walls well-placed and an appealing use of modern-yet-rustic decor, part of me did wonder how that exactly fits into a restaurant theme revolving around the secrecy of serving prohibited booze, at least in the portion of the restaurant that wasn’t considered a speakeasy.

The dining room and patio had few tables not filled with families. (Photo by Christina Ulsh)

The one-page menu managed to provide a surprising amount of options, with meals on one side and drinks on the other. It took three attempts by the server to get our order before we figured out what we wanted.

Not only were there many entrees and sides to sift through, each item was significantly detailed. Did we want Pot Licker Power Greens with Pick a Pepper Vinegar (Collards, Kale, Mustard Greens Braised with Country Ham and Pot Licker) or Smoked Cheddar Ale Mac And Cheese? Somehow having to choose four of our included bottomless sides for the two of us was difficult.

When we looked ready, another staff member took no time to see if we’d like to go ahead and order.

As a chicken joint touting locally raised birds with four types of preparation, we decided chicken was the route we needed to take. We ordered the top-listed Crispy Fried chicken as the control and the Smoked Fried chicken to compare it to. In hindsight, I wish we ordered at least one of the other offerings instead: beef or fish.

Both fried chickens were rather dry and boring to say the least. The breading was nothing special while the flavors were too subdued to write home about. Typically I can at least count on the dark meat to be juicy, but in this instance it was either overcooked or under-marinated because it was all parched poultry.

I will say the Smoked Fried had a smokey flavor that can’t be found in the usual fried chicken, but it wasn’t enough to make me want to come back and order it again.

The eatery provides four kinds of “sops,” or sauces, to sop up with your meat choice — Coffee Stout Red Eye Gravy, Roasted Jalapeno Sawmill Cream Gravy, Apple Moonshine Prohibition BBQ Sauce and Deep South White BBQ Sauce.

I’d like to say these added the much needed flavor or moisture lacking in the chicken, but alas none were especially tasty enough to make up for it. The sauces try so hard to be distinct but fall flat by not being simply creamy, sweet, spicy or just any flavor that could complement fried chicken.

We also ordered the greens, grits, smashed potatoes and cucumber salad (names summarized for length.) The greens and cucumber salad made us feel healthier but weren’t necessarily something we wanted seconds of.

The grits were wonderfully cheesy with bacon undertones, which I could have eaten a whole vat of as my meal and licked the pot to boot.

The smashed potatoes had an atypical yet pleasant quality to them which can be attributed to the parsnips, giving the side a fresh but not overpowering flavor.

If anything, the meal was filling and did its job in that regard. We had leftover chicken to box up and bring home with us.

The Hair of the Dog, foreground, and the Sazerac were well-prepared drinks. While the Sazerac is a classic cocktail from New Orleans, the Hair of the Dog is an in-house concoction. (Photo by Christina Ulsh)

The drinks offered range from your classic libations concocted in the 1800s through the early 1900s to in-house creations based on the theme.

We had the Sazerac as well as the popular Hair of the Dog. The Sazerac, made with Sazerac Rye, cane sugar, bitters and Absinthe, was simple and just sweet enough.

The Hair of the Dog had a beautiful flavor to match its hue. Bourbon mixed with lemon juice , cranberry juice, simple syrup and blackberries, the drink was both tart and sweet.

There was plenty of beer on tap — a mixture of craft beer and your basic brews. That is from what we could tell at a glance, as they’re not listed anywhere and the server said she lost her draft list.

We decided to do cocktails instead of getting biscuits, which are unfortunately not offered as one of the sides.

Perhaps we’ll return to try the beef, biscuits and the highly recommended $1 salad.

We’ll have to save up though because there’s no walking out of there without spending at least $50. The chicken is served as a half-bird at $19, the beef $31 per pound and a whole fish comes to $23, which includes your sides. While it is family style, you pay per person.

Your choice of cocktail starts at $10, so you could save a few bucks ordering beer or soda.

Prohibition Chicken is located at 201 W. Church St. in Lewisville. It’s open from 4:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, Friday from 4:30 to 10:30 p.m., 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. It’s closed on Mondays.

7 COMMENTS

  1. We just left from there. It was our first and last visit. If you want great chicken and great sides head south on 35 to Carrollton and go to Babe’s. We were not impressed with this place.

  2. Here’s an idea. Let’s spend 10 years talking about how desperate Old Town needs to be redeveloped, set aside a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone and spend a lot of money on consultants to hold our hand as they show us how to revitalize an area with buildings dating back to the 1800s. Then let’s critique, castigate and chastise the small business owners who invest in Old Town and want it to succeed as much as we do.

    No, I’m not associated with Prohibition Chicken in any way. I don’t know the owners, I’m not associated with the city in any way and don’t even know an employee. I just know reviews and comments like this are the very thing that will kill any small business. While I’m sure it makes you feel better voicing an opinion, remember that brief moment of self-worth after businesses leave Old Town due to a lack of community support. Is their chicken fantastic? Depends on who you ask. Is their service better than average? Yes. Does Lewisville need them to be successful? Hell yes.

    They haven’t been open two months and the haters are already lined up at the gate with torches and pitch forks. One of them even got a pay check slinging stones at a company who believes in Old Town. Just goes to show that you encounter two types of people in life: those who do and those who complain.

    Old Town needs Prohibition Chicken to succeed, and Prohibition Chicken needs our support to succeed. Otherwise, let’s just all become the eastern version of Facebook’s “Flower Mound Cares” group and eviscerate any new business stupid enough to open up shop in our neighborhood.

    P.S. Everyone knows the speakeasy is only open Thursday from Sunday. Surprised the “food critic” didn’t know that before dining there. And no one uses the word “atypical” to describe potatoes.

  3. NO sorry if ur meal is that expensive then it better be GOOD!!!!!

    YOU DON’T GO AROUND COMMENDING ON FOOD THAT’S NOT WORTH UR TASTE BUDS NOR THE $$$$$$ HIGH PRICE YOU PAID. THEN TO LEAVE DISSATISFIED OF WHAT YOU PAID FOR AND NOT CONTENT.
    With as many complaints they will realize issues needs to be fixed!!!

  4. My experience exactly. We went there a month ago and the chicken had a distinctly flavor of the oil it was friend in being old which lent a burnt taste to it. I will be going to Babes for chicken. As you mentioned. If you going to name the place after chicken, it had better live up to the name.

    Jules

  5. I was so excited to eat at Prohibition Chicken and about the refurbishment of downtown Lewisville. The concept is amaaaaazing! I was so hopeful. But as the ok chicken was served on a pizza platter…. My fiancé and I slowly started our dissent into disappointment. I wish I didn’t know how to cook greens. Maybe they would have been good. No. They were…… Crunchy. Even as a white girl I know greens should not crunch! Mashed potatoes bland as shit. Maccaroni and cheese made with….. Velveeta??? I’d rather make the drive to Babe’s and spend less. Cute atmosphere does not =good food. Sadly.

  6. I agree with Christina’s critique. My family and I ate there and we were not impressed. The BAD: The fried chicken tasted like it was over fried in burnt oil. The mash potatoes had a bland taste and the texture of thick Elmer’s glue. The salad was decent, but the corn nuts kind of threw me off. I did like the idea of the dipping sauces for the chicken, however, when they were served, it felt like they were some kind of chef’s experiment. The hot, out of the oven, biscuits were terribly bland. The GOOD: The ambiance and decor was 5 stars. The service was 5 stars. The place looks amazing. But unfortunately, people come for the food. The bottom line is that this restaurant is an awesome idea, executed badly. This is my opinion based on our experiences. This has nothing to do with complaining or bashing as Todd Winters commented above. I am not even sure if he has even tried this place. This is an honest experience. I am not biased. I love good food and don’t mind paying for it, however, I will also tell you when it is bad. I would call this a hit or miss. A 50/50. Unfortunately, at the higher than average prices, I would not gamble on this place again. I give it a kind 2 stars.

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