Pecking at Pecking Order | Bleader

Pecking at Pecking Order

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Pecking Order, fried half bird
The quiet block of Clark Street north of Montrose used to be a mini enclave of Filipiniana, with two restaurants, Fish Pond and Little Quiapo, quietly existing almost right across the street from each other. The latter relocated to the North Park neighborhood some time ago, leaving the Fish Pond to carry on in relative obscurity. But then former Wave chef and Spiaggia vet Kristine Subido moved in, along with her mom, Melinda, and opened Pecking Order, a back-to-her-roots Filipino chicken joint and a highly anticipated move that seemed destined to liven the block up.

It is good to see Subido put out so many iconic Filipino items, even if there is no clear reference to them on the menu. For instance, house-made sauces based on popular commercial brands: one not unlike the sweet, liver-based Mang Tomas All Purpose Sauce, used purposefully for lechon, and the other a banana ketchup in the mode of Jufran. There's also a sweet pickle assortment—mom's recipe—which is a version of the sweet papaya, carrot, and ginger kraut known as atchara, and the shaved ice and fruit dessert halo halo is prominently touted at the bottom of the card.

The main deal, however, is chicken—wings by the pound, and whole and half birds, grilled, roasted, or fried, each marinated overnight in a tamari, sugar, garlic, and bay leaf mixture said to be an ancestral family recipe. I don't get much of this marinade from either the roasted or the fried chicken, though I do like the crackly sea-salt-dusted exterior of the latter. On the other hand, its darker color makes it look like it spent too much time in the oil, and maybe it did. I found the meat of both varieties overcooked and juiceless for birds that are supposedly brined. And though they are allegedly antibiotic- and hormone-free Amish chickens that get a little more space to live in than your average battery bird, they don't have much more character.

The chickens can be had with an assortment of sides—grilled elote, fried plantains, garlic fried rice, and a poutine-style smashed red potato conglomerate topped with aged gouda. This is drenched in a chicken gravy that also dresses perhaps the simplest and most satisfying thing on the menu: a bowl of al dente white rice. In this simple bowl of pure home-style comfort food, you completely understand Subido's intentions with this place. But it's easy to overidealize childhood. There's a slaw that's nothing more than raw chunks of cabbage drizzled with sriracha, and a take on Scotch eggs that aren't treated any more delicately than the chicken—halved hard-cooked eggs entombed in longaniza sausage and deep-fried to death.

Other poultry-based novelties include chicken-adobo-stuffed arancini, soup with house-made egg noodles, and a grilled chicken sandwich with pate, pickles, and fried egg on pandesal bread, plus a small collection of wines and beer, a couple of alcoholic punches, and a few mimosas.

Pecking Order, 4416 N. Clark, 773-907-9900

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