By Phyllis Stein-Novack

Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 10 | Posted Jan. 31, 2013

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For those with interests in quickly prepared yet nutritious grub, Rotisseur has crafted a commendable chalkboard full of options. 

Photo by Greg Bezanis

In my youth, our stove had a separate rotisserie compartment where my mom would roast whole chickens or roast beef for Friday night dinners. Some people owned free-standing countertop rotisseries that took up a lot of space, but produced juicy, succulent birds. 

For years, supermarkets have offered whole roasted chickens for easy meals. All one needed to prepare were the side dishes, and dinner was ready in about 30 minutes.

About a year-and-a-half ago, Rotisseur, a BYOB on South 21st Street, opened for business. I walked by it a number of times and made a mental note to sample its chicken dinners and freshly-prepared side dishes.

Last week, I decided it was the perfect time to try Rotisseur’s fare. I cooked all week, simmering a big pot of chicken soup, braising some short ribs, grilling salmon with root vegetables and brewingendless cups of tea. I simply could not face the stove until the next day. 

Rotisseur is a small, brightly-lit place with about a dozen seats, but it also offers takeout. Patrons simply order from the chalkboard, and the meal is ready in minutes. A delightful clerk described all the offerings as I glanced at the chickens roasting on spits. For $33, Edward and I enjoyed a simple, tasty, comforting dinner.

Unfortunately for us, Rotisseur was out of cornbread, but the array of fresh vegetables on the mise en place table was enticing. A black, cast-iron skillet held baked beans, and another was filled with braised then grilled baby bok choy. The owner pulled out a pan of macaroni and cheese, set it next to the roasted potato wedges, and I immediately got big eyes. I wanted to try everything.

The clerk told me two sides come with the whole chicken dinner ($26). I also wanted to take home a sample of contrasting cool vegetables as well.

While I was making my choices, a couple arrived and asked for a vegetarian banh mi to go. If you are not in the mood for a meal, a chicken sandwich or any type of banh mi is available.

I brought home our goodies and set the table. Rotisseur roasts local, organic birds, which is a plus with me. The meat was moist, tasty and juicy. Sometimes breast meat can be dry and bland, but our bird was evenly roasted, resulting in a comforting experience. Since the chickens roast on a spit, much of the fat falls off. It’s a healthy way to cook.

The six grilled baby bok choy were a fine foil with dinner, especially when we dipped them into a rich, deep garlic sauce that the clerk included as a sample. The people at Rotisseur come up with new sauces and like their patrons to sample them before they appear on the menu.

Pickled vegetables have gained in popularity within the past year or so, but many cooks just can’t seem to strike the right balance of slightly sweet and pungent. The pickled vegetables hit the mark.

The container was filled with shredded cabbage, onions, marvelous carrots that retained a bit of crunch, beets and okra. Okra can be tricky. Some folks say it is slimy and tasteless, but when prepared properly, it’s one of my favorite vegetables. 

Cool roasted beets mixed with herbs and generous chunks of tangy feta cheese was another tasty side dish. Beet salads have been the rage in so many places for years but this simple and flavorful preparation brought smiles.

Casual and moderately-priced places like Rotisseur, where one can either dine in or take out, are popping up throughout the city. Barbecue blazed the trail after burger joints made their deep imprint.

But fast food need not be loaded with calories and fat. Rotisseur demonstrated this on every level.

As I was about to leave, the clerk smiled and said “Come back and bring a bottle of wine.” After Edward and I cleared the table, he admitted Rotisseur has been added to the list of inexpensive BYOBs. Besides, I want to try a banh mi.

Three tips of the toque to Rotisseur.


102 S. 21st St.


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Comments 1 - 10 of 10
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1. Marty Medals said... on Jan 31, 2013 at 09:26AM

No Rob Roy?
Is Edward finally on the wagon again?”

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2. Angela said... on Jan 31, 2013 at 11:02AM

“The link to the site for the restaurant does not work, I think you need to put the http in front of it:”

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3. Anonymous said... on Feb 1, 2013 at 06:21AM

“Let the HATE begin....”

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4. Eric Scola said... on Feb 1, 2013 at 11:17PM

“I wonder if they need waiters at this place. The food at Brick is making me nauseus every night.”

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5. Marty Medals said... on Feb 4, 2013 at 02:01PM

“Phyllis, you mention that they "roast local organic birds".
I wonder, are they grown in South Philadelphia? That would mean they are local. All of the birds that I have seen in South Philly are either pigeons, sparrows or sea gulls.
I never tasted a pigon or a sea gull but I imagine that prepared with the righ kind of spices they could be very tasty. My friend Thong eats sparrows but they are too boney for me.
By the way, why is mac and cheese on the menu in this place when everyone knows that the Broad Street Diner has the best Nac and Cheese in South Philly?

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6. Fred said... on Feb 4, 2013 at 03:55PM

“Marty, she clearly and continuously referred to chickens as the birds being roasted. Educated writers often use a generic term when referring to a word used previously in an article. Uneducated readers sometimes mistakenly grab onto the 2nd reference to distort the writer's meaning, as you have done. I guess you thought it might be funny to contemplate eating pigeons. And your final question about mac and cheese way over-generalized about "everybody" knowing who has the best. You simply can't say that unless you've tried them all. She's introduced you to a new venue for it; now get out there, try it, and report back here. Sometimes I get sick of your armchair analysis.”

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7. Anonymous said... on Feb 4, 2013 at 03:58PM

“Eric Scola rocks! If only he would learn to spell nauseous.”

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8. Richie Beck said... on Feb 11, 2013 at 07:26PM

“You know, I've really been biting my tongue as I read the comments that are posted to some of these reviews. While you may disagree or even feel that her review(s) are unfair, or worthless, or whatever else you might say - Some of the more personal attacks against her, her husband, her choice in beverage, her relating a story or anecdote, and so on is just sickening. I've actually had the pleasure of meeting and dining with Phyllis years ago, and while it has been a while since we've spoken, I can say point-blank that she does not say nor do anything to earn that kind of personal rancor. You think you'd write a better review? Start a blog, as they are free and any yahoo with a thesaurus can pull it off. She reads these comments, she responds to the useful ones, so don't think that she doesn't see the often horrific things that some of you say. It's hurtful - It'd hurt -my- feelings if it were aimed at me, and it's just uncalled for.”

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9. Lychee Beck said... on Feb 14, 2013 at 12:41PM

“Richie, welcome to the internet. You're never going to prevent this kind of boorish behavior, no matter how hard you try. The only answer is to charge a subscription to the SPR, from which a moderator would be paid. He or she could then bounce any unruly paticipants.”

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10. Richie Beck said... on Feb 18, 2013 at 07:39PM

“Lychee, I don't think it's a consequence of the internet as much as it being a consequence of hateful people with nothing constructive to add. Criticize the review, but to drag her personal life into it is just crass. But perhaps you're right, that a moderator would be welcome. I'm all for free speech, and I'm no angel with my mouth nor my opinions, but I just don't understand what Phyllis had done to earn these personal attacks that smack of jealousy or vendetta. Unless they are associated with a place that did not rate well.”


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