- Sally Pollak
- Chili-lime chicken plate
I spotted the latter the other day from my window stool and banged on the glass to get her attention. She detoured right and came inside.
"We put our names in at Penny Cluse," she said, announcing her next-door destination.
A few minutes earlier, by coincidence, I had been to Penny Cluse Café, the neighboring restaurant, which shares ownership, a kitchen and some menu items with Lucky Next Door. I had gone there to eat one of the best restaurant meals around — chicken liver pâté on grilled baguette with pickles, garnish and mayo ($6), and a tossed green salad featuring lettuce you can bite into, plus tomato, onion and corn dressed with red wine vinaigrette ($3.75). The price tag easily meets the monetary criteria for this column. The words needed to describe its culinary achievement present a greater challenge.
I was relieved of that challenge because the café wasn't serving the chicken liver toast that day. So I bopped over to Lucky Next Door for the runner-up: sardine toast. There, I ran into the restaurant's co-owner, Charles Reeves, taking orders at the counter. I asked him about a special listed on the blackboard: chili-lime chicken leg plate ($12).
If you've never had it, Reeves advised, get it.
A few minutes later, from the kitchen of chef Maura O'Sullivan, came a breathtaking plate of food. This meal was as unfussy as it was delicious — chunks of cucumber in a spicy dressing were sprinkled with slices of red onion, chopped peanuts, chili peppers and cilantro leaves. A mound of coconut rice obscured two pieces of chicken: crispy on the outside, moist within, flavorful throughout.