Tell anyone that you’re heading to the Brass Rail in Grandy, and the question you’ll likely get is, “Is that a strip club?” While you won’t find any naked ladies here, what you will see are tables scattered with baskets of chicken bones stripped clean. That’s because this Highway 65 institution, located just north of Cambridge, is known for its broasted chicken, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a plate that leaves any of that juicy, succulent meat behind.
Part of what makes broasted chicken so special is that it’s not a dish that can be replicated at home. Broasting takes frying up several notches by using custom equipment that deep-fries the marinated chicken under high pressure. This equipment, invented and patented in Wisconsin (where else?), is only available to commercial and foodservice kitchens, so unfortunately, you can’t broast a chicken in the backyard like a turducken whenever your heart desires. Luckily, the Brass Rail’s version is worth the drive no matter where you live in the metro.
Chicken baskets come with a quarter (starting at $6.30 for dark meat) or half chicken (starting at $9.30), and for the extremely reasonable prices, it’s just good sense to order a half and bring home any leftovers. Each basket comes with soft, buttery toast, a cup of sweetly dressed coleslaw, and your choice of broasted potatoes, crinkle-cut fries, tots, waffle fries, or hashbrowns. But the star, of course, is the crispy-skinned, delightfully brown chicken. From the first bite, you’ll be taken in by the rich, meaty aroma, moist and tender meat, and the flavorful, melt-in-your-mouth skin.
The magic of broasting keeps the juices inside the chicken without letting the grease penetrate the meat too much, so while the chicken retains a flavor profile similar to regular ol’ fried chicken, it doesn’t mimic the fried version’s heaviness. Oh, it will fill your belly all right, but you don’t push away from the table feeling like you have a pile of greasy rocks in your stomach. As one might expect, the dark meat pieces taste exceptionally juicy, but even the largest pieces of white meat avoid the dryness that plagues many chicken breasts. If only the potatoes could make it through the broaster with similar success — instead of crisp and salty, the potatoes arrive limp and mushy. It’s a better bet to stick with the waffle fries if you want that crunch.
Nestled into a cozy roadside space complete with knick-knacks, a small bar, and a hunting-themed arcade game, the Brass Rail fills with local regulars but welcomes outsiders as well, with friendly smiles and helpful suggestions. This is a place where a glass of beer costs the same as a can of soda ($1.25) and a 20-piece chicken dinner to go will set you back less than a chicken dinner for one in many Minneapolis restaurants. True, it’s no strip club, but the Brass Rail and its broasted chicken is enough to get you excited to make the trip to Grandy.
The Brass Rail, 36868 Highway 65 NE, Grandy, MN 55029; 763.689.9965.