Good chefs cook from personal history, making memory edible. When it comes to Sarah Kirnon of Hibiscus, either she's a better-than-average cook or her personal history is way more interesting than that of fellow chefs who grew up haunting Sbarros in suburban megamalls. Contemplating an order of Kirnon's Miss Ollie's fried chicken, it's clear that both are true. Kirnon spent her childhood in Barbados (with holiday jaunts to Antigua and Trinidad), raised by her great-grandmother and grandmother — the Miss Ollie for whom Hibiscus' fried chicken is named. The chef has adapted it for the farm-to-table era, brining the bird before poking a chopped mix of parsley, thyme, and cilantro into holes in the flesh. The breading ends up thick and crunchy, craggy and dark — it's among the deepest-colored fried chicken you'll find — over juicy meat infused with garlic, lime, and herbs. Accompaniments constantly change, but gravy is a constant, just like the charm of Kirnon's cooking.
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