Hot chicken: The heat is on in Montco

Hot chicken at Southern Belle, 700 Bethlehem Pike, Erdenheim.

Take a bite. The crunch ends in a slow, creamy, cayenne-fueled burn that buzzes your lips and rises into your palate.

It’s hot chicken, the Nashville specialty. Bud & Marilyn’s in Center City serves it on slider-size potato rolls, and the $4 nibble on the happy-hour menu is great with a beer. South, in Spring Garden, tucks hot chicken into slider rolls only on the bar menu. Whetstone Tavern in Queen Village offers chicken on full-size potato rolls, while at Bait & Switch in Port Richmond, they’re served on brioche rolls.

Now for those who hanker for their hot chicken on sliced white bread — a home-spun, traditional approach that served Kevin Sbraga well at the late, great Fat Ham — head to Springfield Township, Montgomery County.

Chef/owner Tim Thomas works the stove at Southern Belle 2.0 (700 Bethlehem Pike, Erdenheim), a country-kitschy offshoot of his Southern bistro in downtown Jenkintown.

Camera icon MICHAEL KLEIN / Staff
Dining room at Southern Belle, 700 Bethlehem Pike, Erdenheim.

His hot chicken ($15) — two large, boneless, skinless breasts, topped with paprika remoulade, whose fire is tempered only slightly by bread-and-butter pickles — is a mess as you wield a knife and fork to hack at the chicken, spear a pickle, and mop up with the white bread.

But hey.

Thomas sells it only at this location (open Tuesday to Sunday from 5 p.m.), which has a bar.

And plenty of napkins.

Camera icon MICHAEL KLEIN / Staff
Chef-owner Tim Thomas at Southern Belle, 700 Bethlehem Pike, Erdenheim.