First Taste

Chick Rotisserie & Wine Bar Could Use More Pluck

When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).

Restaurant: Chick Rotisserie & Wine Bar Location: 3943 East Camelback Road Open: Three weeks Eats: American rotisserie comfort food Price Point: About $11 to $30 a person

What's in a name? In this case, nearly everything.

The second concept from Allen and Traci Thompson, owners of The Grind, and chef Bevin O'Neil, Chick Rotisserie & Wine Bar opened in mid-March in the Arcadia Village shopping center on the southwest corner of Camelback and 40th Street.

As the name would suggest, its lunch and dinner menu of American rotisserie comfort food goes heavy on the chicken but also features meats such as pork, ribs, duck, brisket, and prime rib -- all seasoned with O'Neil's signature sauces and glazes. Additional items include salads, sandwiches, wraps, soups, and weekly blackboard specials in addition to O'Neil's homemade cinnamon rolls, buttermilk cheese biscuits, and pies.

And speaking of menus, Chick needs to change the format of theirs, stat. Like a bulky, old-school address book flipped horizontally, it was confusing and unwieldy, and paging back and forth among several tabs to select a meal is a frustrating process.

More encouraging is Chick's interior, which feels like a cozy, upscale farmhouse with rotisserie chickens cooking in plain view, a rustic fence as part of the ceiling, and an impressive wine collection in front of the bar's flagstone wall.

The place is perfect for rotisserie chicken eaters of the Arcadia kind. That is, those who don't mind paying $6 or $9 for a quarter-pound of very good chicken. The chicken is perfectly prepared, meaty and moist, and can must be tried with light and wonderful black truffle butter and rosemary.

For a few extra dollars, chickens can be turned into meals that include sides, including a decent pasta salad tossed with honey truffle dressing and less noteworthy mashed potatoes. These came with a choice of toppings from the "whipped potato bar". This cruelly misleading name led me to believe I was going to top the creamy spuds myself. Alas, my potatoes ended up being made in the kitchen with the rest of the non-"whipped potato bar" food.

There is also a sandwich made with luscious pulled chicken and a sweet peach barbecue sauce ($10). Unfortunately, it fails because of a hard garlic bread bun and wilted iceberg slaw (which would not be missed if omitted). Other pitfalls include a starter called stuffed biscuit bites ($6), each of which was about three bites too big and, along with the garlic cream sauce, missed out on the flavor, and a petite apple pie ($6) (big enough for two people) with a lovely, light and buttery crust but filling that lacked apple-y sweetness.

Chick says it wants to tackle chicken the same way its sister restaurant and next door neighbor, The Grind, tackled beef when it opened in 2010. A good goal, but for now, one that needs more work.

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Laura Hahnefeld
Contact: Laura Hahnefeld