Chow, Baby: Wednesday, November 5, 2003
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Baby Sings the Blues

Homeopathically, it takes the blues to cure the blues. Chow, Baby, all tore up from being wronged, needed a dose of blues-soulman Lee “Shot” Williams — specifically, “Love Is a Cold Shot,” from his 1995 album Cold Shot — but couldn’t find the c.d. anywhere in this sad, empty, lonesome house. Even the fabulous Sam’s Record Shop on E. Seminary had every Shot album except the prescribed one. But Chow, Baby found some soul healing right next door to Sam’s, at Smokey Pete’s Barbecue.

The first thing to un-depress Chow, Baby was the décor. Not to be neighborhoodist, but one doesn’t expect Eurostyle monorail track lighting on East Seminary. (Maybe it’s no coincidence that the fabulous Lee’s Lighting Outlet is barely two miles away.) Or earthy mocha walls with buttercream accents and glossy black trim. Texana kitsch and homey mottos share space with framed photographs of cowboys of color. It’s a soothing and classy haven from the blighted urbanscape just outside.

Cool jazz and the aroma of cognac-smoked brisket were the next senses-takers. Chow, Baby’s three-meat combo plate ($11.99 at lunch, $13.99 dinner and Saturdays) was completed with ginger-smoked ham, smoked beer-can chicken, cheesy broccoli casserole, and the best black-eyed peas with okra in the entire world. It was twice as much food as even Chow, Baby could eat in one sitting. The leftovers, along with a slice of too-sweet sweet potato pie, made a great midnight snack. To paraphrase Williams, Chow, Baby smiled through the tears in its eyes.

Chinese Medicine

Asia Super Buffet opened a few months ago in the old Black-Eyed Pea space at Loop 820 and Bridge St., but they’re still running their grand-opening specials. Not that Chow, Baby has enough friends to take advantage of the buy-five-dinners, get-one-free plan (Thurs 4:30-9pm). Nor is Chow, Baby smart enough to visit on 10-percent-off nights (Tues). Yes, “it’s a cold shot when you realize you were born to lose.” What better cure for that empty feeling inside than a buffet? Eat all you want ($5.99 lunch weekdays, $7.99 lunch weekends, $8.49 dinner; children half price); nobody cares. Nobody at all. Sniff.

In fact, the Asia Super Buffet staff seems to care. An hour before closing the food was still attractive, and hot dishes were brought out constantly right up until witching hour (9pm Sun-Thu, 10pm Fri-Sat). The two long steam tables include all the standards, with particularly good sesame chicken and garlic green beans. On the cold table, the king crab legs and boiled shrimp were uncommonly fresh-tasting. Chow, Baby ate until it was stuffed, then ate a little more. As the song says, though perhaps in a different context, “It’s a cold shot, baby, to let a good thing go to waste.”


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