Sky Full of Bacon

#18: Chicken Adob-ehnh at Restaurante El Campestre

Way back when I reviewed Cemitas China Poblana in my series of restaurants not yet talked about on LTHForum or elsewhere, I made note of a roasted chicken place across the street…

Now, just the other day I had fantastic grilled chicken, one of the best things I ate all year, at a place I will write about shortly, so I had high hopes that lightning might strike again.  Did it?  It did not.  The first time what strikes you may be lightning, but the second time it’s usually just an ’88 Pontiac with a lot of rust damage.

Restaurante El Campestre is a spiffy looking place, almost chain-like in its bright, clean interior and slick signage.  (Nevertheless, there only seems to be the one.)  It has one dish, roasted chicken, which you can have plain or adobado, that is, marinated in a bright red adobo.  Sides are, well, what you’d expect— beans, rice, fries, cole slaw (clearly aiming beyond the Mexican crowd alone), mashed potatoes, etc.

For about $9 I got a half a chicken with two sides, plus chips, salsa, and tortillas.  A moment later, another $2 got me a limeade; there’s a nice-looking fruit stand in the back where they make jugos, although as I would later note, probably the one they don’t make out of fresh fruit is the limeade.  (So of course they’re promoting it.)

The salsas were a bit odd; the one in front was almost bubbly, like it’d just been pureed at a very high speed, sort of applesauce texture.  The one in back, a little better, had a slight citrusy tang to it.  Not sure what style either was aiming for, they were okay.  (A lot of the population in this area seems to be from Zacatecas, maybe this is one of their styles.)

Got my chicken.  It was cooked decently— white meat a little dry, but dark meat dead on, which is pretty much how you usually get chicken like this.  But it didn’t sing.  It didn’t have that fresh-off-the-grill charcoaly sharpness, the adobo didn’t have the zing of fresh spices.  It immediately brought to mind a picture of a 10-gallon drum of institutional adobo sauce.  No freshness, no life.  Washed out.

The limeade was a refreshing choice, but it too had the flattened flavor profile of something from a jug, not a living fruit or vegetable.

Incidentally, I noticed a sign on Cemitas China Poblana that it had moved as of the end of November— it’s now, apparently, at 3138 W. 47th St.  Maybe someday someone else will check it out— for all the crowds now visiting Cemitas Puebla, no one seems to be burning to try another example.  There’s still a lot happening on this block— a carne en su jugo place, a store window full of boxers’ photos, an old nickelodeon becoming a massage parlor.  A colorful slice of the city, worth checking out— though I can’t really recommend the chicken.

Restaurante El Campestre
4226 S Archer Ave.
Chicago, IL 60632
(773) 927-1333

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