A kid of mine travels along this particular stretch of Holland Avenue weekly. He reports that the smells drifting out from the brown, brick restaurant with the funky chicken sign are so amazing, he nearly dies. Every time I mention a restaurant I’m reviewing, he has a tiresome refrain: When are you doing the chicken one and can I come?
So we did the chicken one. Not planning to review it, so much as to shut him up.
We went with the family for dinner and were impressed with the husband and wife team that runs the place, the staff that make you feel welcome, and with much of the food. Returned with a friend for lunch. And a third time because the sidewalk chalkboard advertised homemade pecan pie fresh from the oven and I’m an easy target for pecan pie.
This is chicken that makes you want to have a succulent, messy picnic feast with. But until it’s truly picnic weather, the feasting can happen pretty comfortably inside too — over two floors of comfortable, colourful surroundings, with eye-popping art by local artist Alison Fowler prettying the walls, and an appealingly easy-going atmosphere permeating the place. If you stick with its strengths — rotisserie chicken, gooey-chewy-tender ribs, and great desserts — the Foolish Chicken restaurant makes good sense for affordable family dining.
These is wet barbecue fare, the chicken rubbed and roasted, the ribs nicely spiced, basted with a thick, sweet-spicy sauce that doles out enough tang to balance the sugar, with a light smokey perfume on the finish. I’ve had them cooked just right — the ribs crusty and chewy, the meat soft and lightly clinging to the bone, the rotisserie chicken crisp skinned and juicy fleshed. With the bird and the pig, you get a choice of potato â€“ sweet potato fries, freshly cut potato wedges, “twice baked” potato (scooped out, mashed, stuffed, covered with a boring mild cheese, baked again) a blob of coleslaw and a small cornmeal muffin. They’ve been sometimes dry, sometimes burnt crisp, sometimes bang on (which is why we go three times.)
They make a pretty good Caesar salad. The bacon is real, and nicely crisp, the parmesan is freshly grated, the greens are bouncy and tossed with a well-lemoned and -anchovied dressing. As far as mayonnaise-based Caesars go, it’s a pretty good one.
The chicken they use on the spinach salad is rubbery (oddly not the yummy rotisserie birds I had assumed they surely use) and though the spinach is fresh and the candied nuts are nice, the citrus dressing is acrid and artificial tasting.
The pulled pork is a generous sandwich, though it’s not the highlight of this place and it would be greatly improved by a less dull bun.
The menu lists a few sandwiches (we like the boneless rib wrap, we’re ho hum on the veggie foccacia) and a cheese burger (apparently homemade, but the patty is juiceless, cooked to dry.) But don’t be foolish now. Stick with the chicken and ribs.
And whatever you do, don’t neglect dessert. Few joints like this have desserts that warrant saving room for, but with its homemade sweet endings, The Foolish Chicken exceeds expectations. A gooey, dark and cakey brownie comes with ice cream. A lime, coconut cheesecake is excellent. Best of all so far has to be the spice cake served with warm rum sauce. We are told it is a recipe from grandma. No fool she.