Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Finger-Lickin' Darn Good Chicken - Sardi's in Frederick

Oh, my sweet, succulent, zesty bird – wherefore art thou? After years of nibbling on rotisserie chickensof every ilk :Boston Market, Kenny Rogers Roasters, Weis, Giant Eagle, Sams, Costco – and yes, even my trusty Ronco Showtime Rotisserie (which I DID order before midnight and was subsequently rewarded with 3 free , absolutely free, bags of chicken-leg elastic ties), I have finally discovered what could be my perfect poultry platter. Crisp-skin, intensely seasoned, Sardi's Peruvian Chicken: Pollo A La Brasa

If you were to drive “down-the-road”, you would have a plethora of Peruvian restaurants from which to select. Rockville Pike alone has a chicken shack in just about every one of their myriad strip-centers. But honestly, why tangle with the MC traffic unless of course you have a hankering for A&J’s Dim Sum or some spicy eggplant at Joe’s Noodle House?

No, my friends, you do not need to gird up your loins for the long haul to Rockville if you are craving some robust rotisserie chicken. You can gird up your loins and hit our very own Golden Mile for a quick trip to Sardi’s.

Sardi’s is located in a small strip center just off of 40 on McCain Drive, two doors down from Doc Geiser’s and directly across the street from Home Depot. And in case you’re wondering, yes, the outside ambience is very much indeed a good indicator of the general ambience you will find inside. Formica tables. Cafeteria Chairs. Bright lights. Spanish Language televisions broadcasting soap operas and soccer. Counter Service. Definitely not the destination for a romantic tete-a-tete with your paramour. But just right for eating family style and licking your fingers.

If you aren’t familiar with Peruvian Chicken, well, you sure are pretty darn late to the party and it’s high time you got acquainted. At Sardi’s, whole chickens are marinated and rubbed with a savory spice blend, skewered and then spit-roasted over a blistering charcoal fire. The spit roasting keeps the chicken moist all the way to the bone and has the capability of transforming the skin into a crackling salty explosion of flavor.

Usually the meat is juicy and moist and the skin is perfectly crispy. The ladies in my family, well, we’re chicken people. And when we get a really good piece of chicken, we are happy. But sometimes, we aren’t as happy as we would like to be. There have been some sad occasions brought on by dry white meat and flabby rubbery skin. I do not like dry meat. I do not like rubbery skin. The only good thing about rubbery skin is that I’m not tempted to eat it.

I’m not really sure what the cooking difference is between perfectly cooked birds and the flabby ones – my guess is that the perfect ones were extracted from the oven just as we ordered, and the less perfect birds sat waiting, lonely on the cutting block, waiting for a buyer.

But even if the chicken is a tad dry at times, do not panic, there is a cure. All you have to do is swirl the meat around in one of the three delicious salsas available for chicken dipping: Salsa Verde, a spicy blend of cilantro and aji peppers, Salsa Amarillo – kind of a spicy mustardy sauce, and an Aioli – a mild garlicky mayonnaise. With these sauces, you could probably make just about anything taste pretty good.

With many of the chicken platters, you get a choice of side dishes. In general, I was not a big fan of many of them. They have some kind of a vegetable medley that looks like someone opened up a bag of frozen diced vegetables and just steamed them. There are the ubiquitous rice and beans. And there’s some type of Peruvian corn with the most gigantic mutant kernels I have ever seen. Hot off the steam table they were bland and starchy.

There is, however, one real keeper of a side dish: the ultimate diet-buster, Deep Fried yuca. What could be better than taking heavy duty carbs and deep frying them? Keeping your hand out of the potato chip bag is nothing compared to trying to keep it from reaching for one more fresh-out-of-the-fryer spear.

There are plenty of other options on the menu other than chicken. Lomo Saltado, Souvlaki (the general manager is Greek), Churrasco de Pollo (chicken marinated in cilantro, peppers and onions), ceviches (very good, but not always available, and served with canchas – Peru’s version of a corn nut only fresher and tastier), and for the less adventurous in your group: Salchipapas (basically cut up hot dogs mixed up with French fries and served with catsup and mayo).

So if you’re beyond looking longingly into your loved ones eyes over gentle flickering candlelight, and instead have a hankering for some finger-lickin’ good chicken – you now know where to go. Sardi’s : Pollo A La Brasa

Sardis Chicken- Frederick50 N. McCain Drive, Frederick MD 21702
Tel: 301-620-7717