Chow, Baby: Wednesday, July 11, 2002
Sunny’s Delight

Home alone, Chow, Baby is as susceptible to advertising as any red-blooded American, and as obedient to crabby old ladies as any true Southerner. Several million times in the last three weeks, that crabby old lady in the Burger King commercial told Chow, Baby that the new Back Porch Grillers are as good as her own homemade. Buy them, the old lady commanded. Flouting its personal “Fast Food Sucks” dictum, Chow, Baby obeyed.

Lies, all lies. No dentures could tear through the tough “bakery style” bun. Far from juicy, the meat is as burnt as any e. coli-fearing hamburger chain can make it. The bizarre “homestyle” taste comes from a chalky combo of garlic salt and onion powder. The edges of the burger are artfully jagged to suggest hand-molding, yet every patty is asymmetrical in exactly the same way. Chow, Baby will award points for the nice, ripe tomatoes, but overall has not been this burger-disillusioned since McDonald’s “Adult Taste” Arch Deluxe fiasco of 1996.

Having learned its own lesson, Chow, Baby beat a retreat to Sunny’s Grill on Belknap just off Beach. Here’s a juicy grilled burger, available in a small single ($1.59), a large double ($3.79), and every size in between, made to order and served up fast. The edges may not be raggedy, but the buns are fresh, the crinkle-cut fries are hot, and the tater tots are as good as Sonic’s. Hot sandwiches include fish, chicken, grilled cheese, and the highly recommended Korean steak ($3.59), with grilled onions and peppers. May Chow, Baby turn into a crabby old lady if it ever again surrenders to corporate evil as seen on tv.

Mein Kampfhenkel

Chow, Baby wishes it had as many friends as Re Re’s Grill does, many of whom have written in to hype this casual, happy restaurant on Brown Trail at Harwood in Bedford. Chow, Baby also wishes it could cook as inventively as Re Re’s Kirk and Maile Kampfhenkel, because it would probably acquire more friends.

Re Re’s cuisine is basically Southwest-Mex with original secret sauce concoctions. A good introduction is a sampler appetizer plate ($7.99-12.99, serving two to four), wherein the chips are as thin as the queso is thick. Thick rings of sweet onion in a spicy batter are a perfect match for the tangy Southwest sauce. Fish bites — chunks of pollock, seasoned, breaded, and deep-fried — are marvelous dunked into mango salsa; they also appear in taco and taco salad form. One disappointment: Iguana eggs ($5.99) — spicy-battered, deep-fried guacamole balls — sounded way cool, but didn’t really work. Next time Chow, Baby craves crusty guac, it’ll stay home and pull the New Year’s leftovers from the back of the fridge.

After all that, Chow, Baby was too full to eat more than a bite or two of its popcorn-shrimp taco (great), crab salad with mango dressing (great), and deep-fried beef burrito (great). Most items are around seven bucks, the portions are huge, and the service is friendly (great!). Takeout is available, and sauces are sold by the pint. Be sure to buy some for your friends.

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