Over Memorial Day weekend we had a family function in the Chicago area and it was suggested by a couple of Contingent members that it'd be an opportunity to visit a landmark in the world of fried chicken: Dell Rhea's Chicken Basket
Joliet Road used to be part of US-66 and for many years the Chicken Basket served hungry travelers, and this heritage is noted by plaques in front of and on the building. In fact, my in-laws (who joined us) had eaten there several times "back in the day".
The dining room probably has 25 tables, give or take a few.
No porcine porcelain here!
I ordered the chicken dinner and it comes with a trip to the soup and salad bar, so I helped myself to a cup of chicken dumpling soup. It had good flavor and the dumplings were soft without being mushy.
Since we were the first people through the door when it opened at 11am we had to wait a bit for the first batch of biscuits. They're crumbly as opposed to flaky and broke apart easily, but they were warm and slightly salty.
The chicken is breaded instead of battered and the breading has a grainy, coarse, sandpapery texture without being overly craggy or knobby.
And the chicken inside was perfectly done and quite juicy.
The chicken basket comes with fries and slaw so I chose the dinner ($5 more) in order to get mashed potatoes, gravy, and green beans.
The recommendation was spot-on, as the well-seasoned chicken was outstanding all the way from the crust (excellent in its own right) to the bone. The potatoes were the real deal and the chicken gravy was nice and thick, and the beans were given equal rights instead of being treated as second-class citizens.
Our waitress was very personable and efficient, and was even able to stop by to chat for about 10 minutes or so. After my mother-in-law mentioned that they had been there back in 1961 we learned that it's not at all uncommon for the Chicken Basket to serve multiple generations of families, whether they're those of former employees or long-time patrons.
I lived in the southwestern and western suburbs for 4-1/2 years without ever setting foot inside; the closest I ever came was when we had our wedding rehearsal dinner at the Holiday Inn just north on Route 83. This was definitely a case of better late than never!
post edited by ScreamingChicken - 2013/05/30 11:40:00