As much as I love Northern Virginia, (which is a ton BTW) sometimes I get a craving for a feel and taste of my Tennessee roots. Which is why Hen Penny in Reston Town Center is my absolute favorite new place to eat. I love everything from the rustic farmhouse touches in the warm dining room, which somewhat reminds of my grandparent’s old home, to the expertly and speedily prepared food.
With a name like Hen Penny, you know chicken is their main game and their game is impressive. We tried all their varieties of chicken and they all had merit. The Porter Roasted Chicken Quarter (which I knew from first bite would be RJ’s favorite, although it was a little too herby for me) was very juicy. The chicken fingers (for G, but he shared a few bites) were perfectly crisp and tender enough for small lad. The Henny Penny fried chicken was so crunchy on the outside with the perfect amount of salt and seasoning. But, without a doubt my top chicken pick was the Nashville Hot Chicken Hand Held. This sandwich has it all, crunchy fried fiery hot-sauce doused chicken, sweet and briny pickles and a soft bun. It’s the stuff sandwich dreams are made of.
Now entrees are very important, but what about the other items on the menu at Hen Penny you may ask? They are awesome too. The perfectly rustic whipped potatoes topped with the richest yet light gravy are a little container of love. I don’t even like mayonnaise, in fact I hate it. But, after one bite of the Poblano Mayo, I was hooked. It wasn’t greasy like some mayo sauces are, it was so light and emboldened with an extra creaminess from avocado. It may sound strange to say bit I also love the sodas. At Hen Penny they feature Maine Root sodas, which are organically sweetened sodas that you don’t have to feel guilty about drinking. The lemon-lime is so refreshing and your palate isn’t fatigued like it sometimes can be from sodas loaded with high-fructose corn syrup. The blueberry soda was especially my favorite, bursting with blueberry flavor. This sophisticated soda is what grape soda wants to be when it grows up!
Did I mention that you can also get the lightest, most perfectly balanced batter coated fried Twinkie for dessert? At carnivals these can feel so heavy and not taste very well. The batter gives it just the right balance to the really sweet Twinkie, plus you don’t have to buy multiples like the fairs and carnivals sometimes make you.
If you are anywhere in the vicinity of Reston Town Center do yourself a favor and check out this adorable and delicious eatery. You know how when you’ve had a big meal, but it was made with really good stuff, it actually gives you more energy. That’s how you’ll feel after you eat at Hen Penny. Like you just ate one of your grandmother’s meals and now you’re ready to go work in the garden or play a game of football. Satisfied, but not stuffed. Steeled against the difficulties of the workday by scrumptious chicken.
Kari Liked: The Nashville Hot Chicken Hand Held was mind-blowing delicious. I’ve been daydreaming about the lemon-lime and blueberry sodas. Oh, and the Poblano Mayo!
Kari Didn’t Like: The Peach BBQ sauce was a little too sweet. And I liked the roasted the chicken the least do to its herby taste.
When I heard there was a new chicken restaurant in Reston Town Center I was really excited. Yes, you have to pay to park now and that’s a drag, but that doesn’t mean that Hen Penny isn’t an awesome place to get some chicken
Hen Penny is the child of local southern comfort favorite Hen Quarter. While Hen Quarter is a Modern American take on down home country food, Hen Penny takes a decidedly more focused and quick service take on Southern cuisine. They’re not kidding with the “quick” part either. By the time we had gotten our fountain drinks (wonderful Maine Root sodas, that are worth a visit on their own-after the blueberry soda I may never drink grape soda again) and sat down, our food was ready to be picked up.
We tried a lot of different kinds of chicken when we visited, and the star was undoubtedly the Nashville Hot Chicken Hand Held, with its tremendous heat, and sauce that tasted so much of fresh chiles I kept expecting the snap of one in my mouth. That being said, there is a lot going on at Hen Penny that needs the attention of any foodie or chicken lover. The fried chicken thigh is so juicy that it was staggering, and it still didn’t feel greasy. The fried breast actually has a completely different batter than the thigh, embracing its different texture and taste. And don’t miss the roasted chicken. At most fried chicken establishments, the roasted chicken is an after thought, but not so at Hen Penny. They use a spicy blend of seasonings that will awaken your taste buds as you devour it. It was just wonderful. I didn’t miss the breading at all.
The sides and desserts are also great. Whipped potatoes can so often be code for soupy potatoes, but Hen Penny whips them to just the right consistency and tops them with a Rotisserie Pan Gravy that gives it a rich flavor and luscious mouth feel that is addictive.
Hen Penny offers many bottled sauces for your chicken, but skip the prepackaged stuff and make sure to try their Poblano Mayo. It’s spicy and green (thanks to avocado) and entirely unexpected. The house made Peach BBQ Sauce was one of the few missteps for me, I couldn’t taste the peach very well, and it wasn’t spicy either, so it didn’t really get either quality I look for in good sauce for ‘que. With so much flavor going on, it can be easy for you to overwhelm your palate, that’s when you eat a few pieces of their unbelievably fresh watermelon to cool off your tongue before you dive back in.
For dessert we had the Funnel Fried Twinkie, which had yet another kind of batter on it. Yes that’s three different batters where another restaurant would have only one. It’s that kind of commitment to the best flavor combinations that makes Hen Penny so awesome. Anyway, back to the fried stuff! The version here is more complex and satisfying than the version at the fair, and here you can get it anytime and it’s less expensive.
Overall, Hen Penny makes other chicken chains look very bad by comparison. Even if I have to drive to Reston every time, this is my new chicken place. It has many different ways to enjoy their chicken and great sides. I’m really looking forward to getting a bucket of their chicken for a picnic. And for anyone saying that it’s still not worth it because of the parking, just go on the weekend when parking at Reston Town Center is free!
RJ Liked: Anything chicken, especially the Nashville Hot Chicken, and the roasted chicken
RJ Didn’t Like: The Peach BBQ sauce
Hen Penny is located in Reston Town Center, at 1820 Discovery St, Reston, VA 20190. To access online ordering or for more information check out their website here.
(We were provided with complimentary food items, in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are own.)