In this, Our Miserable Winter of COVID-19, I've been subsisting mostly on all sorts of comfort foods. Last week it occurred to me that a whole mess of fried chicken hadn't been in the mix for a while, and it had been even longer since I've had its fiery cousin, Nashville Hot Chicken. So when Instagram reminded me about a newish ghost-kitchen outfit called Cayenne, which opened last November and specializes in the stuff, I knew it was time for a high-voltage fried feast.

Cayenne has three locations from which they send out the goods: Long Island City near Queensbridge Park, Clinton Hill near the Navy Yard, and on the Lower East Side. You can also pick up your food in person, which is how we did it at the Rivington Street storefront, but Cayenne is very much a delivery-centered operation. There's no seating of any kind, no ambience, no counter workers. You order and pay remotely (a QR code is pasted on the front door to accommodate passersby), and the only staffer at the Rivington site prepared our food, packed it up in various compostable containers, and handed it over in super-friendly fashion. "We appreciate you," he said more than once.

The umbrella company here is Mealco, described by a representative as a "food-tech startup brand building quality, digitally native restaurants," and you can also get Modern Mexican food at these same kitchens via an operation called Tributo. The Cayenne part of things, however, is a project developed by Hillary Sterling, who also runs the kitchen at the popular Vic's on Great Jones Street. So how did Sterling, a native New Yorker who grew up in Sheepshead Bay, get into the Nashville Hot Chicken game?

"One of the first kitchens I worked in, here in NYC, was Mesa Grill," Sterling told Gothamist. "There was a poster hanging in the kitchen of all types of dried chilies and one of all different kinds of fresh chilies. I was so fascinated by the differences and layers of flavors, from sweet to citrus from nutty to spicy. I have always incorporated these flavors in my cooking but after a trip to Nashville a couple of years back I was hooked. I couldn't stop thinking about it or craving that heat."

Chicken n' Fixins ($14.95)

Chicken n' Fixins ($14.95)

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Chicken n' Fixins ($14.95)
Scott Lynch / Gothamist

There's only a few things on the Cayenne menu, but you still have to make a bunch of choices with your order. You can get your chicken prepared at four different heat levels: The OG (which is more salty than spicy), Mild, Hot, and (Sterling's favorite) Fiery, the latter three delivering on their respective promises. You must also select either breast and thigh meat with each dish, and whether you want a crock of Sterling's kicky comeback sauce, or some tangy green ranch.

Order the Southern Chick Sammy and your bird is stacked on a soft sesame roll, topped with pickles and some good, crunchy coleslaw. The Chicken n' Fixins platter comes with two pieces of the former, served boneless, and your choice of two sides, either Ooey-Gooey Mac n Cheese, which was nice and creamy; Spicy Maple Cornbread, which was dry; the Coleslaw; or the Southern-Style Baked Beans.

And if you want some greens with your meal, get the Kickin' Chicken Salad, which features about a dozen little nuggets strewn about a pile of crisp kale, some slaw and pickles adding both acid and sweetness to the mix. The chicken itself is thickly breaded, fried to a crisp, and tasted best when I reheated it at home, to get the juices flowing again. Most important, it all definitely hit the spot, which is the primary target of any good comfort food.

Cayenne is a "delivery-first" operation, but the locations for pickup are at 92 Rivington Street in Manhattan, 42-25 Vernon Boulevard in Queens, and 15 Vanderbilt Avenue in Brooklyn, all of which are open on Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight, and on Sunday and Monday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. (eatcayenne.com)