First Bites: Delia's Kitchen

This place shows promise, and I'm not damning with faint praise, though I do have some suggestions

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By David Hammond

Delia’s Kitchen opened in the latter half of 2010, and I just got around to going there a few days ago (so little time, so many places to eat).

I had read negative criticisms and passionate defenses of Delia’s on Yelp!

One of the negative criticism regarded service,  and on that note, I have to say: the service at Delia’s is excellent, and that’s critically important.  Like George’s (145 S. Oak Park) and a few other local places, Delia’s comes very close to being a commodity, competing with similar restaurants based on price and availability. Service is a critical differentiator, and at Delia’s, service was very friendly and attentive. The crew here is sincerely customer-oriented.

Opting for the Amish Greek Chicken, I was pleased to wait a little for it to be cooked – the menu claims, and I  have no reason to believe otherwise, that the food here is cooked from scratch. When the chicken arrived, it was quite juicy and very clearly had not been pre-cooked and left to sit, waiting to be ordered.  Amish chickens seem to be a little plumper than standard corporate farm birds, and my half-chicken was big, too much to actually eat at one sitting (no worries: I brought the breast home).

Though well cooked, the chicken was seasoned somewhat ham-fistedly with Greek spices and a fair quantity of salt in it. Now, I like liberally seasoned food and I’m a salt fiend, sprinkling the stuff on just about anything, from watermelon to pizza.  But even I thought that areas of the dish were way too salty; others, not salty enough.

I was glad to see that Delia’s is using fresh vegetables (like broccoli and carrots), nothing seemed frozen, and it’s cool that they’re featuring balsamic vinegar and olive oil from Olive & Well (133 N. Oak Park).

For my first bites here, I was impressed with the effort but lukewarm about the execution of my Amish chicken.  Delia’s Kitchen, however, deserves another visit, and I think they’re trying to serve a better grade of chow than one might expect; applause for that. I am particularly interested in the buckwheat cakes, an item that has been banished from menus everywhere (even International House of Pancakes!) – I love these moist, dark flapjacks and would return to Delia’s if only for those.

One final thought: it is crazy for a restaurant, no matter how small, not to have a website with their menu posted. It costs very little and it’s very convenient for customers. Fortunately, one of my fellow food fanatics on had posted his pictures of the Delia’s Kitchen menu, so that helped me do a little research before I went.

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