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EATS: Restaurant Reviews and News | FIRST IMPRESSIONS

High in the Pecking Order

A new chicken restaurant on Melrose delivers real food.

March 13, 1997|S. IRENE VIRBILA | TIMES RESTAURANT CRITIC

The colonel may not be shaking in his boots. But here comes Peckers, coyly subtitled "a fowl restaurant." And they deliver.

This sassy new chicken emporium has moved into a cavernous Melrose Avenue space just west of La Brea. And somebody has had fun with the barnyard theme, mounting a giant chicken on top of the building, and painting the walls and stenciling the tables in sizzling Caribbean colors. (There's also an enclosed garden for outdoor eating.)

Chicken at Peckers means not only the rotisseried or roasted bird, but also Cajun fried and Thai barbecue style, plus "Jewish chicken soup ole" (i.e., pepped up with cilantro, chiles and avocado), chicken sandwiches, tacos, wraps--and Cajun fried chicken livers.

When I called one night to order two half-birds, the guy on the other end told me he has a better deal: a whole chicken with two sides and hot corn bread for $13.50.

"But I want a rotisserie bird and my friend wants Cajun fried chicken," I said.

"No problem," he assured me, "we can split it."

Thirty minutes later, my doorbell rang and a white-jacketed cook handed over a large shopping bag packed with clear plastic containers. Not much insulation, but the chicken, amazingly, was still hot. Was I the only delivery that night?

Nothing was forgotten. There were plenty of napkins and silverware. The spinach was hot and fresh. Dirty rice was tasty enough. Corn bread, cut in slabs, was fluffy and sweet as cake.

The rotisserie chicken was moist, sticky-skinned and redolent of garlic and lemon, while the fried chicken, sheathed in a crisp, spicy mahogany coating, was just a bit dry underneath.

Hey, it's real food. And you can feed four (or two ravenous persons) for a modest $13.50, which is some kind of deal.

But whoa, who had the idea to sign the menu "Sincerely, Mae Breast?"

BE THERE

Peckers, a Fowl Restaurant, 7174 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles; (213) 931-5454. Open 7 days for lunch and dinner. Major credit cards accepted. Parking on street. Appetizers $3 to $7.50; entrees $4 to $7.50. Takeout. Delivery free with $15 minimum.

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