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Restaurant review: Chicken and more, done right, at Chicken Busters

By Jill Blanchette

Publication: The Day

Published August 29. 2013 4:00AM

On ABC's "The Bachelorette," Desiree Hartsock had to pick her way through 20 or so potential mates before she got the real prize of the show, a visit to the Portuguese island of Madeira in Episode 7.

That's where Desiree and the oh-so-tragic Brooks drove their little white Smart Car up a twisting mountain road, taking in the amazing vistas of the North Atlantic and ultimately bringing a whole new meaning to the term cloud sourcing.

If you want a quicker route to Madeira, one that avoids the rejects and the drama, just travel to the new Chicken Busters take-out and catering on Franklin Street in Westerly and sample its specialty, Frango de Churrasco - chicken that is marinated, then barbecued over a charcoal fire.

Chicken Busters is tucked in Westerly's Mill Pond Plaza, also home to McQuade's Hardware. Inside, it is sparse, spotless, and well organized, as if run by a cook who wants everything in its place. Clearly, its business is predominantly take-out and catering, but there are three tables, one two-top and two three-tops.

There were a couple of weeks this summer when you really couldn't park your car in town without returning to find a Chicken Busters menu tucked under your wiper blades. Since its June 1 opening, the place seems to have cultivated a crop of regulars who, beginning around 3 in the afternoon, call in to order dinner: a whole barbecued chicken, perhaps basted with Chicken Busters pungent hot sauce, and maybe some French fries, a salad, and some passion fruit mousse for dessert.

It's easy to understand their loyalty. The chicken is flavorful, moist, delicately smoky and falling-off-the-bone tender. If you ask, they'll baste it with the hot sauce when they take it off the grill, then give you a little extra, and perhaps some lemon-butter sauce on the side as well. The skin is crispy and decadent as the sauce works its magic.

You can take home a whole chicken ($12.50) or a half ($8.95). Or you may choose a leg or breast quarter ($7.50), which comes with two sides chosen from a selection that includes salad, steamed white rice and fresh-cut French fries.

But although the chicken is where the story begins, it's not where it ends. Chicken Busters also offers an array of hardy entrees, sandwiches and soups on its regular and specials menus.

Grandma's Chicken Stew began its Chicken Busters career as a special, but its popularity quickly demanded a spot among the regular fare. This dark, meaty stew, boldly spiced with oregano and bay leaf, served over rice, has simmered-all-day appeal.

Chloe's Rice & Smoked Meats is kind of a lighter version of New Orleans' Dirty Rice. Its delicate smokiness comes from the chicken, bacon and homemade chouriços, which provides a cured meat punch that is undeniably Portuguese and tasty.

And now a word about the Madeira Creamed Carrots. This buttery, sweet, creamy mélange of baby carrots tastes like Sunday dinner at gramma's house and, for the vegetarians among us, a portion easily could be the main component of a meal. These carrots were a delightful surprise.

The special's menu on the day we visited included Joana's Lasagna, made with fresh pasta sheets, ground grass-fed beef, and creamy, cheesy béchamel sauce; a sandwich of tuna salad, lettuce, tomato and hard boiled eggs on a baguette; Portuguese kale soup with chouriços; a grilled chicken BLT wrap served with a drink or a cup of soup; and creamed cod and potatoes, bacalhau com nasas.

The creamed cod ($12.95) was rich, buttery and flavorful, dotted with diced bacon and topped with a browned cheesy layer. It was delicious, but you'd need a nap if you ate the whole thing.

In fact, that's the case with several of Chicken Busters entrees. This is stick-to-your-ribs food, what you'd want if you'd been out fishing or working in the fields since before dawn, perhaps a bit heavy for a sunny August afternoon but kind of perfect for a lazy, rainy day this fall.



Chicken Busters

Mill Pond Plaza, 105 Franklin St., Westerly, (401) 348-2878

Cuisine: Portuguese, focusing on traditional marinated, barbecued chicken

Atmosphere: Casual, mostly take-out

Service: Welcoming, knowledgeable

Prices: Whole chicken, $12.50; half, $8.95. Other entrees, $11.95. Soups, sandwiches, quiche, salads from $4.99 to $10.95.

Hours: Closed Tuesdays. Open Sunday and Monday, 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Wednesday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Credit cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover

Reservations: No, but if you want to pick up a chicken for dinner, call ahead and Chicken Busters grill one fresh for you.

Handicapped access: No steps.

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