Your Guide to Authentic Regional Eats
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2803 W. Chicago
July 1, 2006 10:06 PM
Chicago food savant David Tamarkin took us to the restaurant called Feed at the end of a long book tour during which we tried to tell the world about our memoir, "Two for the Road" and to celebrate Roadfood in general. One of the questions we were asked a lot at book signings and by reporters was: "Are the types of restaurants you write about dying out?" Our one-size-fits-all answer was that some of the great ones are gone, others survive and thrive, and brand-new ones are created. We wish we had known about Feed as an excellent example of that last category. Opened in August, 2005, by Donna Knezek and Liz Sharp, this Chicago newcomer caught our full attention the moment we walked in the door.
Even the outside was tantalizing. Located at a forlorn Near West intersection in Humboldt Park, the building is weatherbeaten but adorned with a couple of really cute images of chickens, one a head-on view on a sandwich board at the front door. The interior is an ode to hens and eggs and cocks and chicks in the form of pictures, nick-nacks and one totally adorable lucky-egg "Chicken Machine." Put in a quarter and the machine starts clucking. Out comes a plastic egg with a prize inside – the sort of happy, cheesy trinket that used to come in Cracker Jack.
But what really won our hearts was the food. Let us tell you that at the end of a book tour, authors tend to be really tired, desperately in need of comfort. Well, there it was, posted on the menu above the order counter at Feed: a menu of country comfort that included WondeRoast rotisserie chicken (oh, so tender, moist and full-flavored), velvety pulled pork in zippy dark red sauce and, best of all, a long roster of masterfully-cooked, mostly Southern-style vegetables. These included a whole roasted ear of corn with its toasty-earth flavor accented by a liberal brush of garlic butter, gorgeous mashed potatoes and gravy that Roadfood.com member Bruce Bilmes declared the best on earth other than the ones he makes at home, pungent collard greens, spicy whipped sweet potatoes, from-scratch succotash, hand-cut French fries and mac-n-cheese. The chicken is white or dark, in increments that range from a quarter bird to a whole one; the pulled pork comes in a sandwich; and the side dishes are available as a meal – your choice of five for $5.99. Did I mention dessert? Creamy banana pudding, striated with whole vanilla wafers, is a classic.
Chef Donna has created an original eatery that may not be an authentic rustic chicken shack, but has the unmistakable soul of the sort of eat-place we Roadfood folks are always looking for.
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