It's huge, it's bustling and the counterpeople are grinning so hard there must be happy dust in that chicken. We're talking, of course, about Boston Market, the new (mostly) takeout place at the corner of Market and Church. A whole rotisserie chicken with sides of very decent stuffing (with recognizable pieces of carrot, celery, onion and mushroom), baked beans (too sweet), steamed veggies and rosemary-flecked roasted potatoes plus corn bread (too sweet again), gravy and cranberry-walnut relish set us back about $15. Great value. But Dish tore into the foil-lined bag to get at the bird only to find burned wings, dry white meat and oversalted skin. Formerly Boston Chicken (they now serve turkey and ham), this 13-store chain is sweeping the country. Asked for details on expansion plans, office manager Gretchen Wentz said, "Eventually there'll be millions of them." For our money, we'll head to North Beach and snatch up a bird at Gira Polli. A whole chicken (without side dishes) at Boston Market costs $7.49; at Gira Polli, it's a steal before 6:30 p.m. for $6.46. After that, the price for Gira Polli's big bird goes up to $9.99.
You Say Tomato Sonoma County Independent food and wine editor Michele Anna Jordan's cookbooks do more than offer recipes; they also delve into history, botany, commercial products, even health issues. Her latest, The Good Cook's Book of Tomatoes, just published by Addison-Wesley, is no exception. Among its gems, a portrait of Charles "Mr. Tomato" Rick, the father of tomato genetics; the results of a visit with the woman responsible for the sun-dried tomato industry; and the resuscitation of an old Sicilian recipe for gudene, which features pork skin rolls among its ingredients. Dish whipped up the risotto with sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts and brie, but had to stop short before adding the 3 ounces of cheese listed in the recipe. With the addition of the half-cup of cream called for before serving, the dish was already rich-rich-rich. And bound to become a classic Chez Dish.
What do Jackson Square, Sausalito and the Castro have in common? The answer will soon be restaurants by John Cunin (Cypress Club and Gate Five), who thinks the Market/Castro corridor is so hot he's opening his as-yet-unnamed new restaurant there at the end of June. The new place will be low-key and neighborly, according to Eric Gallanter (of the recently closed Eric in Rincon Center), who's working with Cunin as a consultant on the new venture. Notes Gallanter of the Castro location: "There's more foot traffic there than anywhere else in town."