a peek inside the fishbowl

16 Apr, 2022

Lunch at Holly’s Hot Chicken

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Ottawa|Recipes and Food

Holly doesn’t know this but I’ve been following her story for awhile. I’d see news of her restaurant pop-ups, partnerships with local breweries, reviews of her food. Our youngest also worked with her for awhile, so she was on my radar that way. I hope this doesn’t seem stalkerish, I just really really like fried chicken sandwiches. The sad part of this story is that I was never quite ever able to pull it together enough to make it out to where Holly was serving ’em up. My desire was simply fuelled by social media and reviews and dreams of chicken sandwiches. And then of course the pandemic happened and everything was put on hold.

So you can imagine my excitement when I heard she was taking over the old Meatpress place in Hintonburg. This means her famous hot chicken sandwiches would (a) have a permanent presence that is (b) tantalizingly close to where we live.

I was working from home a few days last week and Mark and I decided that Holly’s had to be on our lunch menu. (Side note: a loaner PHEV from Ford also meant we are jumping on any opportunity to take it for a spin, but more on that later!)

It was, admittedly, not an ideal day to go out for lunch. It was rainy. And cold. And the most important question of all: would the sandwich hold up, all wrapped up and transported from there back to here? Turns out I need not have worried.

Holly’s Hot Chicken is in this pretty brick building in Hintonburg. We parked just down the street.

Holly's Hot Chicken has a new home!

I had perused the menu beforehand so I knew what I was getting. We both ordered the Chicken Honey Hot (Nashville-style spicy fried chicken topped with thinly sliced cucumbers, pickled red onions, honey garlic dressing and iceberg lettuce on a bun) and shared a side of cauliflower bites (deep fried cauliflower florets with house spice blend served with a side of house ranch dressing).

Holly's Hot Chicken: placing our order

I knew this was going to be a lot of food but at the last minute I threw caution to the wind and ordered a donut as well. Mark got one too. Here they are, ensconced in this box while we waited for our order:

Holly's Hot Chicken: waiting with donuts in hand

There were a few people ahead of us, which makes me think this is the place you probably want to hit up a few minutes before you reach the point of starvation  OR place your order ahead of time for pick up. Clearly I am not the only one in the vicinity who has a thing for Nashville-style fried chicken.

We brought everything home. Here is a terrible photo of my lunch, taken with messy fingers right after I tore into it. Please forgive me.

Holly's Hot Chicken: sorry for the photo but...

What is hot chicken, other than delicious? According to Wikipedia: Hot chicken (or Nashville hot chicken) is a type of fried chicken that is a local specialty of Nashville, Tennessee, in the United States. In its typical preparation, it is a portion of breast, thigh, or wing that has been marinated in a water-based blend of seasoning, floured, fried, and finally covered in a paste or sauce that has been spiced with cayenne pepper. This method of preparation originates within African American communities in the Southern United States. A richly pigmented seasoning paste gives the fried chicken its reddish hue.

Nashville Hot Chicken! In Ottawa! It is the perfect ratio of spicy, tangy, saucy, crunchy. I am still dreaming about it.

And then there was the donut. Even though I had been holding it while waiting for our order to be ready, it wasn’t until Mark pointed it out at home that I realized how HEAVY it was. I was concerned, and told him as much, just as he was taking his first bite. (He ordered the lemon filling, I ordered the cinnamon bun style.)

“Is it cakey?” I asked. I do not like a cakey donut. He shook his head, mouth full.

I can’t speak for his donut, but I realized why it was heavy as soon as I bit into mine:

Holly's Hot Chicken: THE DONUT

The cinnamon bun donut had a whipped cinnamon CHEESECAKE filling. Yes. I was essentially eating a donut filled with cheesecake. No wonder it outweighed every donut I’ve ever eaten (and I’ve eaten a lot of donuts). It was very good by the way!

Anyway, we were very happy with our meal and I’m already looking forward to a return visit. If you go, let me know how you like it, ok?

Check out Holly’s Hot Chicken menu right here: hollyshotchicken.ca.


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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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