If you drive by Lee's Fried Chicken and Donuts, it no longer says Lee's Fried Chicken and Donuts.
The sign atop the spot between 6th and 7th streets on Heights Boulevard now says Sam's Fried Chicken and Donuts, as the Sambrooks Management Company (The Pit Room) has now completed the changeover from the previous restaurant.
The company, led by Michael Sambrooks, bought Lee's, Pi Pizza, and Star Fish from Cherry Pie Hospitality in August, then brought in Lyle Bento (Southern Goods, Underbelly Hospitality) to be culinary director of the three concepts. Bento has made a lot of changes to the menu at the fried chicken and donut joint, and the items are available today.
Among the changes: There's a greater emphasis on group-style fried chicken feasts. You can get two-and-a-half whole chickens, five sides, and 10 pieces of cornbread for $70.25, for example. Of course, fried chicken pieces are also available a la carte, and the "H-Town Hot" style remains. You can make any piece hot chicken for an additional $0.75. H-Town Hot combos are also available.
Bento has both pared down the sides and sauces, and simplified them from Lee's more adventurous attempts. For example, the former's bacon jalapeño cream gravy is now country cream gravy. Plus, you can order pork cracklins with hot sauce, chicken gizzards with cream gravy, and boudin balls with ranch. Chicken and waffles and biscuits and gravy is also here. An emphasis on tried-and-true Southern staples seems to prevail, which considering Bento's history, makes a lot of sense.
Of course, the concept is nothing without fried chicken between donut halves. Bento has changed those offerings in small ways (his classic has a dill pickle, no cheese, and mayo), but he's also added standard breakfast sandwiches. You can now get sausage, egg, and cheese in a challah bun for $5.50.
The donut offerings seem to be the same as before, but the kolaches are different. For one, since it's Sambrooks, you're now getting a kolache with brisket. That'll be one to try.
Sam's is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.