The latest outlet of Señor Chicken opened about two months ago in a sterile, high-ceiling space in Columbia Heights, an environment far removed from the smoky little dens of Northern Virginia. Best I could tell, this Peruvian chicken parlor was run by a lone señor, who fetched my order of pollo a la brasa from a holding unit that (I swear!) looked like a plastic trash can.
I could have ordered a number of other items at Señor Chicken since its menu ranges deeper and wider than your typical rotisserie chicken outlet. There are gyros (including a chicken version), a steak and cheese sandwich, grilled steaks (including something called marucha, which is top round with a white-wine sauce), and mixed grill salads.
But I went with the house special of pollo a la brasa. It wasn’t a good first experience, I’m afraid. The bird performed a magic trick of sorts: It was simultaneously dry and soggy. The breast meat went down like cotton while some sections of the thigh had hardened into projectiles. I’d like to blame the holding unit/trash can for this.
But the spice rub/grease had also caramelized into something resembling a thick syrup. It coated my bird’s limp skin like motor oil on pistons. Even worse, it was decidedly sweet, the flavor of cinnamon strong on my palate.
Obviously I need to try Señor Chicken’s birds fresh from the rotisserie next time. The problem was, none of the chickens roasting away were ready for the chopping block this time around.