Tag Archives: chicken

J. J. Hapgood General Store and Eatery (Peru, VT)

There are a lot of little corners of Vermont that I haven’t done much culinary exploration in, simply due to the fact that I seem to pass through those parts during the wrong time of day. Peru, VT is one of those little towns that I’ve driven through probably a hundred times (it’s on Route 11, one of my preferred east-west routes through Vermont), but it wasn’t until I had my parents visiting in September that I finally had a reason to stop and check out downtown Peru, which is just off of Route 11 (the highway diverts about a 1/10th of a mile around the downtown), and, arriving right before noon, we found ourselves at J.J. Hapgood General Store and Eatery in downtown Peru.

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Samurai Soul Food (Fairlee, VT)

A little over a year ago, the small town of Fairlee, Vermont had a noticeable shift in the dining scene. The little restaurant right next to the town’s Whippi Dip creamee stand, which has been one of those restaurant locations that’s chronically failing (having at least 4 different restaurants in my years living here) had again re-opened, this time with rave reviews from most of the people I know living over Vermont. Furthermore, this time, the newcomer was definitely run by some good talent, the owners both came from the kitchen at Worthy Burger. So for a good chunk of the last year, Samurai Soul Food has been on my hit list, and a bit over a week ago I was finally able to work in a visit on my way home from Hill Farmstead.

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Stroud’s Oak Ridge Manor (Kansas City, MO)

Winner, winner, chicken dinner. It’s a classic quote from most any gambling movie (to the point where most gamblers and dealers alike are sick the phrase). It’s also the classic, heck, iconic American dish. But to be honest, it’s actually pretty hard to find a good chicken dinner these days. Over the decades most of the fast-food franchise versions of it have morphed into a poor quality imitation of what they once were (don’t even think of going to KFC for a good chicken, for example, and it’s a shame, since when it is done well it is a true masterpiece of American cooking. Luckily, though, there are still a few existing places that truly know how to do a good fried chicken, and execute it without taking any shortcuts. Of the great places still around for chicken, Willie Mae’s is near the top of the list. Hollyhock Hill in Indianapolis is another. Prince’s for the Nashville “Hot Chicken” variant. And, if you find yourself in the Kansas City area, it’s a shame if you don’t make the time to go get some fried chicken at Stroud’s.

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El Rancho (Oxon Hill, MD)

Recent work travel has taken me to several conferences at the Gaylord resort at National Harbor in Maryland. Considering that the DC area generally has rather good transportation, National Harbor is notable in that it doesn’t; it’s mainly it’s own little isolated enclave with a large resort, a casino, and a handful of touristy restaurants (although among the various tourist joints are a few serviceable places like Nando’s and the quite good Succotash). And while I do love some Nando’s, I was really in the mood for something more like Peruvian chicken. As you may remember from my reviews of Super Pollo or El Pollo Rico, I rather enjoy a good, fresh, Peruvian-style pollo, and the DC area does have a lot of options. So, on a recent trip to National Harbor, I called up my friends Jen and Tom, and they came and took me to Oxon Park (just barely beyond what I’d call a “long walk” from the Casino to a fairly new joint in Oxon Hill called El Rancho.

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Rotisserie Coco Rico (Montreal, QC)

Every once in a while you run into one of those places that you’ve passed by a gazillion times, every time vowing that next time you’ll actually go in and check it out? Well, in Montreal’s Plateau neighborhood, one such place is Rotisserie Coco Rico. We first noticed, not because of the food, but because Coco Rico has a long tradition of having elaborate graffiti-style wall murals. I no longer remember what the mural was like the first time I saw in in 2002 (on the way to Schwartz’s down the street), but by 2007 it involved a simple spraypainted chicken adorned with hearts. By 2010, it involved a group of singing chickens. And by 2013, that had been in turn replaced by an elaborate “Conquistador Chicken” mural. But that’s not what made us stop. No, lingering to look at the mural also immerses you in the intense aroma wafting out of the store, of multiple marinated chickens roasting away on their rotisseries. So on this visit in 2015… we finally had a chance to stop in and visit.

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Burnside Biscuits (Astoria, Queens, NY)

I’m doing an unusual one, I’m skipping the queue a bit since there’s a bit of a timeliness issue with this review (I’ll be returning to my Réunion reviews shortly). Last weekend, we managed to score a screamingly-good deal on hotel tickets to the NoMad Hotel in Manhattan through Jetsetter.com, so we decided to make a three-day weekend of checking out various eateries, museums (in particular, the new Whitney Museum and the Tenement Museum), and other sites that had been on our to-do lists for a while, while enjoying a nice hotel (and it’s associated cocktail bar, which we also rather like). Interestingly, however, in the two weeks leading up to our visit, several different sources all pointed me to an interesting new place opening to a bit of buzz in Astoria: Burnside Biscuits. These ranged from a NY Times article, something got posted to my twitter feed, and two NY-area contacts mentioned it to me on Facebook, and the various online reviews were very positive. So we decided to check it out. What I hadn’t realized is that Burnside Biscuits hadn’t even had their grand opening yet. I was a bit surprised how quiet Burnside was for a dinner on Friday, and our server said, “Oh, that’s because we are still doing our soft open.” Well, whatever various social media work they’ve been doing is working, since I certainly got the word, and I’m not that high up on the New York City food blog food chain. And it got us a nice little, quieter-than-normal intro to a place.

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Chez Will Grillados (Plaine-Des-Palmistes, Reunion, France)

The next morning was, unfortunately, our very last morning on the island of Réunion. After a splendid breakfast at La Matilona, it was time for us to pack up for one last time and head back to St-Denis and the airport. But since our flight didn’t leave until 4pm, this did give us some time to check out Saint-Benoit (which had a wonderful farmers market), and do a bit of driving, this time going back to Belouve, where we had hiked over a week earlier. While it was somewhat bizarre to just simply drive to someplace that had been one heck of a grueling hike, we did get some awesome views. And then it was time to head back. Passing through La Plaine-Des-Palmistes one last time, we noted that since it was Sunday, the various vendors of “poulet bitume” were still out in force, and one place in particular, Chez Will Grillados, jumped out at us, so we felt compelled to stop off and have one more meal on Réunion.

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La Mer Casée (Saint-Philippe, Réunion, France)

I may have mentioned previously that the people of Reunion love their “pique niques” and driving around, so on weekends, particularly on Sunday mornings, the tradition is to drive around, get some food, and take it to your picnic spot. One of the preferred foods for picnicking is grilled chicken, which even has a unique name for the island: “poulet bitume” (literally, “asphalt chicken” or “roadway chicken”). On a weekend with good weather, the result is an almost uncountable number of places setting up a grill and selling fresh-grilled chicken at the side of the road. It’s not just restaurants, either, but houses, shacks, stores, and the like all set up with their grill selling fresh-grilled chicken and assorted sides. It’s quite the sight, and one that we had missed on our first weekend on the island (since we were far from the nearest road, up at the Gîte de la Caverne Dufour). But on our second weekend on the island, as we were driving along the southern coast by Saint-Philippe, we came across the beautifully-situated La Mer Casée right around lunch time, and decided to check it out for our grilled chicken.

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Mike’s Huli Huli Chicken

On our way up to our rental condo on the North Shore, every time we were leaving Kaneohe and heading north on the Kamehameha highway, we ran into two places that triggered my “Offbeat Eats” sense. One is an older place on the West side of the road called the Hygienic Store, which is basically a convenience store (the name comes from it’s former life as the “Hygienic Dairy”). We never made it in there, so we’ll have to save it for another trip. But across the street is some sort of abandoned business, but out in the parking lot are two food trucks that make up Mike’s Huli Huli Chicken. There was something cool about the hand-scrawled sign for chicken that make me interested, and when my friend Mark in Kaneohe mentioned that they were actually really, really good, we decided to follow up on it.

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Super Pollo (Arlington, VA)

As I mentioned in my review of El Pollo Rico, it has been a long standing tradition of mine, on every trip to the Ballston area, to go out for pollo a la brasa (a.k.a. Peruvian chicken). Back when I started that tradition, there was basically one place in the area to get such chicken: El Pollo Rico, but in the intervening years a lot of other chicken places opened up. I had been to, and enjoyed many others, but one I hadn’t been to was Super Pollo (which has a half dozen or so DC area locations). But on my latest trip to Ballston, some traffic backup coming in from Dallas cut into my schedule a bit, and instead of my usual El Pollo Rico stop, I decided to instead hit Super Pollo, since it is literally right next to the client I was visiting.

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