Chow, Baby: Wednesday, September 12, 2002
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
Lip-Smackin’

Not even the annual (or so it seems) Camp Bowie rebricking can keep the ladies who lunch away from Lucile’s. Helpful “Lucile’s Parking This Way” signs guided customers to the back door of the Texas bistro. Inside, smacks of air-kissing and shrieks of “Hah yew doin’?” tracked the West Side table-hoppers on their journey amid the checked tablecloths.

Chow, Baby, being social-circle-free, was at Lucile’s to celebrate the return of its beloved wood-roasted chicken (lunch, $9.75), a half chicken rubbed with a tangy-sweet thick sauce and roasted in Lucile’s famous wood oven until falling-off-the-bone tender. It was as good as Chow, Baby remembered it. Also back from menu-item purgatory is the fried calamari appetizer ($5.95), but Chow, Baby went for the new Lucile’s Escabéche ($6.95), ignoring the adage about never ordering an item with the restaurant’s name in it. In Chow, Baby’s dictionary, escabéche means pickled tuna fish, but this dish was a fish-free, all-shrimp ceviche in a martini glass. Very classy, and very tasty.

Other new menu items are pan-fried pork chops, coconut shrimp, and bow ties with prosciutto. Bad news/good news: Lucile’s marvelous barbecued shrimp is off the menu but reportedly is available for the asking. Not even the sight of too-taut 50-year-olds dressed like Britney Spears can keep Chow, Baby away from that.

Sweet, Sweet Home

Hallelujah! Chow, Baby has found the best barbecue in town, although under penalty of blasphemy: It’s not Texas-style. Until last week, Chow, Baby worshiped the trinity of barbecue: South Carolina mustard-sauced chopped pork, Memphis dry-rubbed ribs, and the king of kings, Texas mesquite-smoked brisket. No longer. Chow, Baby’s taste buds have been awakened to the zest of Alabama.

Chow, Baby’s flavor savior is Emmanuel Dotch, who moved here from Mobile last year, took over an old Braum’s on Meadowbrook just east of Loop 820, and began slow-cooking his meats according to his parents’ recipe. Chow, Baby cleaned its huge combo plate ($8.99) of brisket and sausage, both crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, bathed in a tangy-sweet thick sauce. Not too tomatoey, not too vinegary, on the fine edge between sweet and sour, this sauce enhances whatever it touches — chicken, enormous ribs, chopped pork, Texas toast. Sides include fried okra, potato salad, cole slaw, baked beans, and corn on the cob. Having no room left for dessert didn’t keep Chow, Baby from swooning over Dotch’s homemade banana pudding, the poor man’s tiramisu, with top and bottom layers of vanilla wafers encasing the smooth-as-silk pudding and firm sliced bananas.

On the west wall, a portrait of the senior Dotches surrounded by family snapshots gives the room a been-there-forever feeling. The homey vibe extends to the customers, a mix of ages and genders and colors who all chat together quite comfortably. It’s a big happy Handley family, and the good feeling sticks around as long as the good aftertaste of the barbecue sauce.


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