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rotisserie for the day. The building clearly shows its age: I doubt a cramped and crude building like Pollo a la Brasa could be built under today's codes. Yet, I never, ever, ate at this restaurant even though everyone - Joe Schmoes and critics alike - declared it was fantastic. Until now, that is.
Pollo a la Brasa's specialty is their wood-fired rotisserie chicken of Peruvian origin. In fact, the name of the restaurant comes from the name of the dish, which hails from Lima, Peru's capital and principal metropolis. According to Wikipedia, Roger Schuler, a Swiss hotelier, perfected pollo a la brasa and sold it at his restaurant, Granja Azul, during the 1950s. At first, only the upper crust of society had access to the delicious chicken. When it finally became available to the rest, pollo a la brasa grew in importance - enjoying immense popularity - and was exported to the rest of the world.
cooked exactly how I like them - übercrispy on the outside, starchy on the inside - nevertheless, the flavor was quite remarkable. The fries had such a earthy, sweet, and rich potato flavor to them I did a double take after sampling the first few. These fries definitely did not come from a Russet. Given that Peru is the source of all kinds of potatoes, it was even more gratifying eating such tasty fries. (I did notice that the cook drained the fries from a liquid solution prior to dropping them in the fryer, but I think it was just water to protect the fries from discoloration. I don't think it was a marinade like what McDonald's uses for their French fries.)
The chicken was outstanding. It was salty, smoky, and packed with flavor. I enjoyed sniffing the marinade on my fingers for hours afterward; I didn't dare wash my hands! Pollo a la brasa easily ranks in the top echelon of chicken preparations alongside my other favorites, Armenian style rotisserie chicken and Thai gai yang.
Two salsas accompanied the meal: the Peruvian staple, aji, and a generic pico de gallo. The aji was one of the better versions I've tried. It was assertively spicy and the flavor of the queso fresco really came through. Best of all, it didn't have that unpleasant "green flavor" that some cooks don't know how to tame.
One significant problem with this restaurant is its diminutive size. Don't expect to find a table in the dining nook (not big enough to call a room) during peak hours. Unfortunately, I showed up at high noon and I had to get my order to go and eat it in my truck, which was terribly uncomfortable. They really should invest in patio furniture. There was a building going up next door: I wonder if they are expanding?!?
Don't forget to check out the wood pile in back. Oak?
Parking: It's extremely difficult (no joke) to find parking here. There is no parking lot (you might finagle a spot by the wood pile, but I sorely doubt it). I recommend parking on Oxford Avenue, one block east of Western. North of 8th Street, there is a one hour limit with parking restrictions on Wednesdays and Thursdays. South of 8th Street, there is no time limit with parking restrictions also on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
The Bill: I don't remember what the posted price for the meal was: I think it was around 9 USD. The Asian lady who ran the kitchen took 10 USD flat from me. She seems to take a little more from some customers and a little less from others. I wasn't cool with that.
My Rating: out of four stars (good). Open Monday 11 AM to 9:30 PM, Wednesday through Friday 11 AM to 9:30 PM, and Saturday and Sunday 10:30 AM to 9:30 PM. Although Yelp! notes that this restaurant accepts credit cards, I'd err in judgment on the safe side and always pay in cash.
Last Word: God Almighty, those Peruvians and their food. I'm telling you ...
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