Chicken Run – September 2014
6.71 – 7.5, 7, 6.9, 6.75, 6.75, 6.5, 6.5, 5.75


Situated near the corner of Windham’s South Street and SR 23, Chicken Run has matured since its inception several years ago, proving to be a popular spot for adults, kids, and deck-sitters. Plus, the view of, and proximity to, Ski Windham is an asset. And, for a restaurant named Chicken Run, chicken taking a back seat to steak probably does not hurt either.
          Big Picture? A bunch of DP8ers went home happy.

Seven of the eight this evening consumed some combination of Porterhouse, NY Strip, T-Bone, or Ribeye, finished in shades of medium-rare to well (readers of past reviews can figure this). All thought the steaks very good to excellent—tender, tasty, according to request, as well as measuring up to higher priced establishments.
          The only holdout to the steak stampede was Don, who ordered the blackened salmon, a spicy remoulade heightening the blackened element.
          All dinners come with a cornbread square, and two sides: Kent’s cole slaw, potato salad, mac & cheese, mashed potatoes, French fries, vegetable of the day (wax and string beans), baked beans, more cornbread.
          The steak specials came with a more-than-modest bowl of good basic salad, while Mark and Joyce had the chicken gumbo, a favorite of theirs. The only salad-less, soup-less person was the fish-eater, the salad not part of the dinner.

For dessert, a slice of berry pie went to Don, while Mark and Tim sipped the not-black Sambuca and Ken ventured into the Grappa world. (Judy, you will be mostly impressed that when Ken could not sip any more, he allowed the leftover to be tasted by the rest of the table, which also proved a challenge, a worthwhile one, to our palates.)
          The wine list is an extraordinary contradiction. A list of about ten house wines is sold by the varietal at the same price of $30—no mention of winery, vintage, country, etc. We ordered two—a bottle of the Pinot Noir (out came a Corcia Bourgogne 2011) and the Cabernet Sauvignon (out came a Morada 2011). On the other end is a list of about twenty mid-high end wines, ranging from $50 to almost $200, leaving us to wonder who would order the Ponsardin Champagne with the Chicken Pot Pie! Perhaps, next time.

Service was a mix. “Abby” (never did get a real name) bustled in jeans and t-shirt to take orders and requests, was friendly and attentive, and fit the casual nature of Chicken Run. “We serve delicious and nutritious comfort food in family rustic dining style” is the web site description. Just to prove the point, when the wine order arrived, six wine glasses were set in front of Don, with the bottle already opened, waiting for the customer to pour—real casual character. Food delivery and clearing was handled efficiently, mostly. (A pet peeve of mine is when a waiter different from the one who took order delivers the order, having to ask who ordered what.) One particularly efficient way of clearing the table behind us was to push the debris into the large garbage can dragged to the table. It was a first for some of us.
          Mention of the noise level cannot be avoided. It was loud. It was intense, almost marrow-piercing, at times. It was a room that held about thirty but we seemed to get all the loud-bodies. I sat in the center of one of the rows of four and could not hear the conversation from the far end (two seats away) for most of the evening. The noise abated only when the first table left, or food was delivered to the second. We agreed we cannot fault the restaurant but it certainly degrades dining pleasure.

And pacing averaged out but… A dinner bowl of popcorn awaited each table of four, a nice starting point. Once consumed (five minutes later), we waited until the salads arrived thirty-five minutes later, followed fifteen minutes later by entrées. As usual, the gap is masked by our pleasure in the talk and banter. And the evening took about two hours and small change, a comfortable fit for us.

The final bill, including tax, tip, and drinks, came to $100 per couple, a speck higher than one might first think for a casual place but considering seven steaks ($22-$30 range) in the bill, it was understandable.
          It’s a place to go back to, whether on the back deck on a summer evening or inside on a cold wintry night.
          And thank you, Mark and Joyce, for rounding out the table for this evening.

Ambiance is classic country casual. A dirt parking greets the cars. Upon entry, the specials board certainly favors, with the biggest letters, the steak choices and prices while, on the right side, the dessert shelves entice the onlooker for near-future use.
          A choice of three rooms awaits, mostly in the 30-40 seating capacity range. Branching off to the back is a long row that suddenly opens into a sizeable bar, with TVs on, and music appropriately blaring. Chicken Run has a range of moods that should fit most towns and complements well the Windham scene.
          Our room was a square box, with wood on all sides with no noise suppressors, perhaps an element in the noise bomb. Distressed-wood flooring lies underfoot, a wainscoting effect with two styles of pine-look divided by a 1x4 comprises the walls , and light pine boarding lies overhead. Thick, butcher-block-ish tabletops were surround by lightly cushioned sturdy chairs. Frosted tulip glass sconces, one on each wall, politely provided light, while four overheads blatantly glared. Paper-napkin-wrapped three-piece settings, held in the middle with the paper band, set the table upon our entry, along with salt & pepper shakers, and the aforementioned popcorn bowls. We requested water around, and out came what most would consider a small juice glass. One table end peered out the west window, with the fading glow of the nearing autumn sunset and dusk.

(A month earlier, Don and Deb had eased into a quiet scenic dinner on the back deck, with a view of the ski slopes, quite a contrast to ambiance this evening. The Karneses and Notars had also enjoyed Chicken Run before on golf outings.)

The evening had started at the Karnes abode, on a pleasant mid-September evening. The first topic of discussion, by necessity, was the newly repaved driveway with its smooth sleekness greeting the uphill drivers. (Chay had already called to caution us about new asphalt.)
          Deb had a box of crackers and a basket of freshly-prepared, baked & buttered loaf slices, awaiting the cheese spread.
          Did I say cheese spread? It was a cream cheese-feta-spinach mix, divided in half by a layer of roasted peppers, topped with sliced almonds. Nope, it wasn’t the good looks that got our attention. It was size—a six-inch tall, flat-bottom globe nestled on the plate daring us to touch it. “No way we could make a dent in that,” I thought upon espying it. But, I was wrong; only a few miniscule lumps were visible at departure time.
          And Chay kept the parched throats at bay. Thank you, Chay and Deb, for the pre-session.
          With seven weeks since the last get-together, we had plenty to catch up on. Topics at the Karneses’, to Windham, and back, included, in part: details of the driveway; the coping with retirement by the two latest entries into that world (neither seems to be suffering any ill effects); Kalli (who vigorously welcomed all but settled back after a few minutes, and after a baleful look); the quarter-million dollars paid to buy out the C-D Superintendent, and all the other comments about malfeasance, no money (except to buy out Superintendents), administrators’ performance, etc.; news from C-D survivors; Catskill school stuff from Joyce, and her classes in her final year; distance learning with three schools, each on a different bell schedule; Mark and Chay’s golf adventures, and why they must continue playing given their recent lackluster play; the Teator trips to the Danube, and to Cape Cod with Lynda and Ross; the Monteverd pool closing, with Ken going in for one last 72-degree dip;  the Notars getting rid of the landline phone; discussion of phone service and coverage; the Adamses’ adventures and upcoming visit; the doings of our children; Kriss’s trips; the contest of truck vs new countertops in the Monteverd household; a note from guidance asking to call a student by a different gender name even though there is no legal standing; the teacher who acknowledges forgetfulness or inflexibility; the last two items that led to fifteen minutes of dealing with trans-gender practicalities; Ken’s assignment to ... and report back next time; revising our schedule so “real DP8” could fit in for October; school taxes; a philosophical musing that we must act now while our bodies and minds are able; and more topics that comprise the glue that makes our company worthwhile and interesting.