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August 10, 2010

Alice Eats: Charlie's Rotisserie and Grill

1160 Williston Road, South Burlington 802-862-1211

We all know the story — friends who have known each other for a decade suddenly realize it's love. While I've always enjoyed what I've had with Charlie's (still known as Chicken Charlie's to most of us), we recently took it to the next level. And it's serious: I've eaten there three times in the last three weeks.

Why the change? This is going to sound stupid, but even though the place specializes in rotisserie chicken, I had never ordered it. A few weeks ago, that changed. I had an intense pollo a la brasa craving, and though I knew I couldn't get the Peruvian bird in Burlington, I figured Charlie's would be the next best thing. It easily surpassed my expectations.

Charlie's 1 The half chicken that I tried was juicy inside, but it was the crisp, fantastically seasoned skin that made the dish. I don't usually go crazy for the taste of unadorned poultry, preferring it as a vessel for sauces. Not this one. Though it's great dipped in a little bit of the sweet and slightly creamy-tasting housemade balsamic vinaigrette I put on my salad, anything else simply overwhelms the delicious natural flavor.

I like to forgo the coleslaw and starch (and the tomato-soup-like concoction called "Charlie's Gravy") in favor of a big, fresh salad, with a tub of the aforementioned balsamic dressing on the side. No brown fast food lettuce here — everything is fresh and flavorful. Even the tomatoes, so often tasteless even at high-end restaurants, have a strong, properly tomato-y flavor.

Last night, I was really hungry, and decided to spring for ribs with my chicken. According to the menu, I was getting four meaty baby back bones with my quarter chicken for $13.49. It turned out to be six-and-a-half bones, which would probably cost $13.49 on their own most places. They were tender inside with a light layer of crisp char outside, and once again, surpassed my expectations. The tomato-based, sweet-and-tangy sauce brushed on them was nice, too.

Charlie's 2My feelings have also been sparked anew by the jumbo tenders. Most really flavorful fried chicken is speckled with herbs and pepper. Not at Charlie's, where the light breading is a pure amber color. I don't know why the meat tastes so great, but I suspect a brine. Whatever the answer, the things are addictive. No matter how many I get I want more, and once again, I think they taste better without sauce. It must be love.

More factory farmed goodness. More bad food that makes people fat and gross. Thanks Alice, and keep these great reviews coming.

I have to admit, I didn't expect an attack for a review of rotisserie chicken and salad. It's okay if you don't like me, but please don't make assumptions about the restaurants I review because of that.

Once again, I welcome any restaurant recommendations that you may find less objectionable. Potential Alice Eats reviews should be little-written-about spots at which folks can get dinner for two for $30 or less.

Papa Frank's!

Chicken Charlie's is one of my guilty pleasures in town. I eat there two or three times a year. To be honest, the only reason I haven't eaten there more is because of their sides. Though I love cole slaw and fries, I'm not a fan of Charlie's cole slaw, which can be accurately described as Oily Cabbage Soup. And their fries belong in McDonald's or Burger King. But now that I know about the salad, I'll have to check it out again soon.

And every food can be bad for you without balance and an active lifestyle, WHU. I feel like we've had this discussion already ...

Trust me, this isn't about liking you or not. It's about you and 7days supporting and praising food places that serve cheap, factory farmed food. This type of food makes people fat, causes diabetes, and is marketed to kids. As a journalist, I know you're not oblivious to these things. Yet you continue to frequent, review, and love these places. So there are no assumptions here Alice, just the fact that you like this gross food and continue to review it positively. It's a America and you can do and say as you please, however these reviews reflects really poorly on this publication.

Jeezum Crow, Whu, you need to accept that not everyone shares your ethics. In fact, I find them downright misguided. I grew up in poverty in a city, so my family would have gone without food without cheap, factory farmed food.

You want to change the column? Instead of just haranguing Alice, do something productive & find a restaurant that conforms to your worldview & costs less than $30 for dinner for 2 - then Alice will write about you/your choices too. What? There are very few places that qualify? That's what I thought.

Alice, good job, keep it up, & don't listen to the resident militants.

Hey WHU?... Did you ever consider that not everyone is a food snob such as yourself? Sometimes we want a nice down home meal or are in the mood for what Chicken Charlies has to offer. If you disagree with the review, fine. State that your reasons. But just because a place like this is "beneath" you, don't subject the rest of us to your sense of entitlement and snobbery.


The Public

I'm not sure WHU ever said this place was beneath him or her. They just called Alice and sevendays out on supporting crappy places to eat. People can choose to eat wherever they like which is fine. The point is that Alice goes to these places and loves them and sevendays continues to just say ok, we support this too. There are editors for a reason. And apparently the ones at sevendays see this as ok too, or they would be editing the pieces or just saying please go review some good food instead of these crappy places. Food is not a rich thing, or a poor thing. It's about personal choice and what people choose to put into themselves. Personal choices can be made in every american's life. To afford better food, people could pay off their credit card. Don't go out to eat so often. Cancel the cable bill. Drive less and cook more. Etc. If people makes these choices, which a lot of people choose to do, then they can eat food that is better and doesn't kill them or the planet.

hey anti monsanto freak whu... chill the hell out. not everyone gives a shit where their food comes from. also, if you're looking to 7days for cutting edge, accurate, true journalism... you're in the wrong place, go buy the Wall St Journal if that's what you seek. 7Days is good for who is playing at higher ground, shay totten hating on any politician who doesn't subscribe to socialism and food reviews for reasonably priced restaurants... think of it as The Villiage Voice (NYC) for Burlington.

lighten up dude.

"More bad food that makes people fat and gross."
"This type of food makes people fat, causes diabetes, and is marketed to kids."

Rotisserie chicken and salad?

Why don't you grow some cajones and go preach your message in an area that actually has an obesity problem instead of nice, safe, and relatively very healthy Vermont.

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