First impressions in NoVA dining.
The restaurant group behind Austin Grill moved from Tex-Mex to Southern-themed spots, first with Hen Quarter, a full-service restaurant, and the fast-casual spin-off, Hen Penny. Hen Quarter serves shrimp and grits and chicken-fried pork chops, and a visit there last fall was unmemorable; Hen Penny fares better.
Occupying a small corner spot across from M&S Grill in Reston Town Center, Hen Penny offers a slim menu of fried and roasted chicken, a few trendy salads (kale; quinoa, chickpeas and arugula; watermelon and feta) and “handhelds,” the term du jour for sandwiches. The Nashville hot chicken was coated in something more resembling a spicy barbecue sauce than the searing hot sauce it’s known for. But a fried drumstick and thigh were examples of simplicity done right: a savory, salt-and-pepper-forward spice blend; a crunchy coating; crazy juicy meat. At $7 with a side (avoid the KFC-tasting mashed potatoes and gravy), it’s worth the new annoyance of having to pay for parking. // 1820 Discovery St., Reston