Staff Writer Ashlen Renner just wanted a cheddar chicken biscuit. She never thought she would be caught in the line of fire of a heavily-intoxicated shouting match at Time Out at 2 a.m.
My mother always says that nothing good happens after midnight. To be honest, I never tested my mother’s adage.
I was the girl my friends sent a search party for at 10 p.m. if I wasn’t in my room tucked in bed. Usually my roommate, Ashley, and I use our 8 a.m. classes as an excuse for turning in so early every night, but really we just have no desire to leave our room after midnight.
But not tonight. After dozing through at least four episodes of “Everybody Loves Raymond” Friday night (or should I say Saturday morning), I got a craving for southern comfort food only Time Out’s cheddar chicken biscuit could satisfy.
Ashley and I were going to be creatures of the night for once. We tore our eyes from the TV and heaved ourselves out of bed to embark on our nocturnal adventure.
Time Out is open 24/7, famous for its late night food, specifically the cheddar chicken biscuit. According to Time Out’s website, more than 3.8 million cheddar chicken biscuits have been devoured. Adam Richman, host of “Man v. Food,” even named the restaurant number 95 on America's 101 Tastiest Places to Chowdown in 2010.
I had never been to Time Out before, so I didn’t know what to expect. I was curious to see why eating a chicken sandwich was on UNC’s bucket list as a rite of passage all students had to take before graduating.
The restaurant was bustling when we arrived. The smell of mac and cheese, homemade biscuits and deep-fried goodness filled the room. Late-night snackers lounged in the wooden booths. People crowded around the “order here” counter, gazing hungrily at the display of comfort foods behind the glass.
The fryer sizzled as a worker dipped a basket full of chicken breasts in the vat. My mouth was watering. “Soon, chicken, soon,” I thought as I followed Ashley to a booth so we could wait for the line to die down.
I was amazed by this new nighttime world. For all these people who were devouring every sort of fried chicken sandwich known to man, their night was just beginning.
Several shared tales of the journeys that brought them to Time Out, but everything said after midnight is off the record.
The line never got shorter as more and more night owls pushed through the doors. I figured it was now or never. After standing in line for about five minutes, I watched the guy in front of me order mac and cheese and some red potatoes. The man over the counter scooped three giant globs of mac and cheese onto a tray and enough potatoes to feed a family of four. If I ever get rescued from being stranded in a desert for days without food, I now know where I’m going to eat first.
I placed my order, and the man pushed a tin foil package to the register. When I asked the man behind the register how many chicken biscuits he sold a night, he just shook his head as if to say, “an impossible amount.”
After paying, I turned around to see that a crowd had formed out of nowhere around the register. Two customers seemed to have some sort of dispute, and I was smack in the middle of them. The one on my right threw a crumpled up receipt at the one on my left all while shouting profanities. The paper ball would have hit the one on my left if it hadn’t bounced off my face.
I scurried back to my table.
“I just want to eat my sandwich,” I said.
Ashley and I tried really hard not to laugh as the dispute escalated and someone shouted, “Just leave!” repeatedly. I started to think that my mother was right.
But then I unwrapped the sandwich.
Behold, a crispy fried chicken breast sandwiched between two layers of cheddar cheese and two buttery biscuits. Hallelujah!
After the first few bites I started to realize how huge this sandwich was. Adam Richman’s picture stared down at me and gave me a thumbs up. I could almost hear people chanting, “Man versus food! Man versus food!”
Alas, I could only eat half of the sandwich. By the time Ashley and I left at 3 a.m. (with my half-eaten sandwich), the line to the “order here” counter stretched out the door.
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