by Alice Levitt
1160 Williston Rd., South Burlington, 862-1211
As everyone well acquainted with me knows, I have a bit of a Chicken Charlie's problem. Without a regular dose of its crisp, salty-skinned rotisserie chicken, I simply go into withdrawal.
Eager to prevent the shakes and shivers, I hightailed it over to Charlie's Rotisserie & Grill — as the place is officially called — for Vermont Restaurant Week on Saturday night. I was greeted by the chickens at right, all dressed up with IDs for the occasion. A white board on the bar outlined the options for the promotion. At lunch, diners can get any wrap, side and dessert for $10. For a $15 dinner, I had three courses that left plenty of leftovers.
For the first course, I got to choose a salad. Since I always get a house salad with balsamic vinaigrette to replace my two sides when I order chicken, I made a departure toward Rome this time.
The Caesar salad was composed of fresh Romaine hearts, Asiago cheese and garlic croutons made of both pumpernickel and white bread. The dressing was thick and creamy, enough so that I applied it only in small doses. The tangy, cheesy flavor was strong enough that just a dab here and there sufficed.
I'll still have to try one of Charlie's burgers one day, but this weekend, we couldn't resist the pull of chicken and ribs.
At right is what the restaurant calls a quarter chicken. As far as I can tell, that's two legs and thighs, making it the lower half of a chicken. Not that I'm complaining. There is never too much of the juicy chicken for my taste. The gravy has become more creamy and less tomato-based in recent years, but I still can't resist dipping my chicken in the sweet, herbaceous balsamic vinaigrette. Don't judge the fact that I even dip the soft roll in the nectar.
It made a pleasingly tangy set with the vinegar-based Montréal-style slaw. It was my first time trying the rice pilaf, which was carrot-speckled and dotted with herbs.
I'm a more recent convert to Charlie's ribs. Advertised as a four-bone rack, we actually got five, big, meaty ribs. The meat is slow-cooked for tenderness, then thrown on the grill where it gets a delectable hint of char.
The housemade sauce has something for everyone. The honeyed sweetness will please some, but it's the combination of tanginess with just a hint of lip-burning heat that makes me love it. I'm also a fan of the soft-inside, crisp-outside battered fries.
After all that, there was still dessert. Choices, fresh from the fridge out front, include a raspberry-drenched cheesecake, but I'm more of a pie and cake gal.
I only ate a few bites of the rich, almost black, chocolate layer cake before I filled up and packed it up to take home. But my companion couldn't help ploughing through his entire slice of apple pie. The cinnamon-flavored apples were slightly spicy, mitigated by plenty of sweetness. The thick crust was sweet and substantial enough that it reminded me of a cookie. Pie inside a cookie? Yes, please.
And yes, please, to the great deal I got at Chicken Charlie's. Do you think I can fit it in again before Restaurant Week is over?
Alice Eats is a weekly blog feature devoted to reviewing restaurants where diners can get a meal for two for less than $35. Got a restaurant you'd love to see featured? Send it to email@example.com.