Sunday, January 24, 2010

Gourmet Chicken and Chef Luciano: Solid, Well Seasoned Food!

The greater South Loop has gone through many dramatic changes over the past 30 years, but one thing has remained relatively consistent, Dave Gupta's restaurants at the corner of Cermak and Wabash. You've probably walked or driven by the place many times and probably questioned the unique signs. Don't be confused or turned off, there is solid food inside.

Back in 1982, Dave Goupta opened up Gourmet Chicken which is the restaurant at the corner of Wabash and Cermak (43 East Cermak or the sign all the way on the right in the picture above). As the name alludes, the focus of the restaurant is on chicken. The restaurant is primarily a takeout spot, but there are a couple tables inside if you want to eat at the restaurant.

Over the years he has also acquired more and more space next door and eventually opened up another restaurant called Chef Luciano (49 east Cermak or the sign all the way to the left on the picture above).

We've been wanting to check it out and lucky fo
r us, the Chef's son, Rocky, recently reached out to us and invited us to try their wide array of food. As you can imagine, we said yes!

Since we've read a lot about this restaurant and have always been intrigued, we felt our review might be a little biased, so we invited a couple friends over for a blind taste test just to ensure we would get some objective opinions.

Here is what they gave us for the taste test:
  • Fried Jumbo Chicken Wings (this has been a staple at the restaurant since the beginning)
  • Roasted Chicken (this is a newer specialty)
  • Fresh Salmon
  • Caesar Salad (also something that they're known for according to Rocky)
  • Chicken Alfredo
  • Black Eyed Peas
  • Black Beans
As you can see a pretty wide range of food. After everyone ate, the general consensus was that everything was 'solid', which was pretty impressive giving the diversity of the food. The one consistency in every dish was the seasoning. As a result everything was very flavorful (for one person this was too much, but for everyone else it seemed to be a good thing).

Personally I found the Chicken to be great, moist and flavorful. Personally I liked the roasted chicken better, but the fried chicken was still good. The salmon had some form of rub on it that was bold and very tasty.

Generally speaking I don't like creamy dishes so typically Chicken Alfredo is not one of my favorites. However their version of this dish seemed to be less creamy then your standard Chicken Alfredo. Like I said, I don't really like this dish, but I enjoyed theirs. Again, the Chicken in the dish was very flavorful and had a good amount of seasoning (seemed like it had more seasoning then the roasted or fried chicken).

I'm a huge salad fan and their Caesar didn't disappoint. I know I'm sounding like a broken record, but this also had a ton of seasoning (which mostly looked like black pepper). Although I didn't try the black bean or the black eyed peas, the people who did seemed to really enjoy them. Of course, these also had good flavor and seasoning according to our friends.

So the moral of the story...very flavorful food with a lot of seasoning. If you're the type of person who doesn't like spices and seasoning then you should probably steer clear of this place. If you're looking for trendy, fancy food, again not the best place for you. However, if you're looking for a wide range of quality food that is reasonably priced then we highly recommend both restaurants.

Also of note is that there are going to be some major renovations going on that restaurant. From what it sounds like there will be more seating and some upgrades to the facade.

For more information about the restaurants check out this review by ABC7's Hungry Hound.


JC said...

Nice long article on Chef Luciano and namesake history in our own Chicago Journal,

Lance Uppercut said...

I'll have to check it out this week.

Chitownmez said...

Thanks for posting this. I've always wondered what it was like. Will definitely try it out someday.

Anonymous said...

The food at this place is fantastic, and Chef is a great guy. It's ashame that his location sits in the middle of a drive-thru drug market and has been over-shadowed by high crime. Hopefully, now that the area is trending in the right direction and is becoming gentrified, this gem will receive its due.

John said...

Their roasted chicken is fantastic. I'm curious about some of their other items, like the curry for example... Sloopy help me out.

Stephanie said...

Chef Luciano's Chicken is THE BEST around! The curry chicken is great, so is the Jerk Chicken, and Chicken Piri Piri. Try them guys, you won't be disappointed! You can get a plate that comes with various vegetables and rice. I especially like the Jerk Chicken dinner...plantains with jerk sauce, rice and beans, garlic bread, potatoes...there's even some broccoli in there...yum.

Seriously, don't be scared. Go down to Cermak and eat this chicken.

Brad said...

Does anyone know if they also own Pizzeria Brandi? I love their pizza.

Anon (SC) said...

I am 75% sure that Pizzaria Brandi is owned by La Cantina Grill owners.

Brad said...

Thanks. I like La Cantina also, much more intimate than Zapatista.