GRANDY, Minn. (WCCO) — It’s good eating this week in the Best of Minnesota. We went searching for the best fried chicken, and your votes took us to a place known for broasting its birds.
Natalie Nyhus visited the Brass Rail in Grandy.
The small town of Grandy is just a stone’s throw north of the metro. So what puts them on the map? It’s a no-brainer — the chicken.
“It deserves the award for the best chicken,” one customer said. “It really does.”
The Brass Rail — voted Best of Minnesota — is home to some world-famous broasted chicken. But before it was slinging wings, the building housed a little bit of everything.
“A trading post, telephone compnay, a garage and several different bars,” Brass Rail co-owner Rod Knowles said. “It was a bar in 1926, 1939.”
Then, Donna Biggins and her husband Ennis took over and opened the Brass Rail in 1969, and now they’re selling a lot of chicken.
“Anywhere from 60 to 100 cases a week depending on the time of the year,” Knowles said.
That adds between 112,000 to 120,000 of chicken per week. It’s a shocking amount of chicken for a restaurant this size in a small town. So what’s the secret?
“They soak it in a salt brine, so it gets really juicy,” customer Pat Larson said. “And then when it’s broasted, it’s just yummy.”
To satisfy their customer’s poultry demands, they operate nine broasters.
“The broaster works like a pressure pot,” Knowles said. “It holds the oil against the meat, but it doesn’t allow it to absorb it.”
That means it’s less grease, more crisp. Less than 15 minutes after closing and sealing the lid, it’s chicken time.
“Most people come here and order the same thing every time,” Knowles said. “They don’t change up.”
The end product is a tender, moist chicken that’s not too greasy, but extra crispy.
“That’s the freshness of never being frozen and marinated for 24 hours,” Knowles said. “It holds the moisture into the chicken.”
It’s so good, it can even stop a train.
“They call in their order, stop the train on the tracks and run over to pick it up,” said Knowles.
No matter what you’re driving, this little spot off highway 65 holds a lot of memories for many.
“We’ve been coming here ever since the 60s,” said customer Denny Lund.
And as for the future, “It just keeps getting better,” said Lund.
“I always said, If it tastes good keep making it. If it doesn’t, stop making it,” said Knowles.
The Brass Rail just expanded and opened an additional dining room and two outdoor patios – one is pet friendly. And they serve their signature broasted chicken to go.
Your other favorites are Revival in Minneapolis and the Pelican Lake Ballroom in St. Anna.