Chow, Baby: Wednesday, January 23, 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
The Hobgoblin of Small Meals

In Chow, Baby’s world, the only thing worse than eating at a chain restaurant or suffering some passé food fashion is having to confess its inconsistencies. But, being as large and multitudinous as Walt Whitman himself, Chow, Baby will admit to a contradiction: At Roly Poly, two wrongs make a right.

Wrong #1: Roly Poly has nearly 100 locations nationwide, including one at University Park Village, the upscale strip mall that likes to pretend it’s in Dallas. Wrong #2: Roly Poly’s sole commodity is the wrap sandwich, the lunch craze of yesteryear that lost all its cool points in 1997 when Long John Silver debuted its Fish Wrap with Classic Tartar Sauce.

Right: All 53 “hand-rolled sandwiches” are great. Chow, Baby is addicted to #47, Nut & Honey ($3.59/$5.39): cream cheese, raisins, sunflower seeds, cashews, spinach, avocado, sprouts, a couple of other veggies, and a tangy honey-mustard dressing. It’s one of a dozen creative vegetarian offerings, matched in imagination by the meat combos. The prices are right and the counterworkers are amazingly patient. As the good gray poet himself might say, “Truly, this diner would adorn the parlors of heaven.”

More than Meets the Eye

Having learned that all chains are not created badly, Chow, Baby accepted a pal’s suggestion of Rooster’s Bay, at 6221 Precinct Line Rd. in North Richland Hills. Inside it looks like a cleaner-than-usual McDonald’s. But wait.

Decidedly not fast-foody was the staff: attentive, personable grownups. The offerings, primarily fish and chicken, are a large cut above Chick-Fil-A’s, but so are the prices: Fish dinners are in the $7 range; two-piece white meat chicken dinner, about $5. Junior/senior dinners are no bargain — two chicken tenders, small fries, and a hot puff (fried biscuit) for $4.65. Tub-O-Chicken and Mess-O-Fish (both 12 pieces, $14.75 and $15.95) are popular at the fast-foody drive-thru.

Also fast-foody: Chow, Baby and pal ordered at the counter and took a seat at a formed-plastic booth. But then a friendly worker delivered our dinners — on real plates with metal utensils. “What is this place?” worried Chow, Baby. “It looks like a boring chain outlet, but it doesn’t act like one.” Chow, Baby’s pal got a faraway look in his eyes. “It reminds me of this place in Lubbock called Chick-n-Sea. ...” Having a 10-word attention span for Lubbock stories, Chow, Baby stopped listening and started sampling his excellent chicken-fried steak ($6.75) and near-perfect fried okra ($1.29) and attacked its own fresh salad with grilled chicken ($6.79). All was as good as at any family-style restaurant. Bewildered, Chow, Baby queried the lady at the counter.

“So ... is this a chain?” She laughed. “We get that a lot. Actually, we own it. We used to have a restaurant in Lubbock called Chick-n-Sea... .” Chow, Baby, satisfied, went back to its very good peach cobbler ($1.59).

Contact Chow, Baby at chowbaby@fwweekly.com.


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