The Brentwood Country Mart is an interesting place, even if just as a destination for anthropological study. Small Santa Monica children are not allowed, from what we can gather, to go through their formative years without a visit there at some point. It has been the case for quite some time, but seems even truer of late, giving luxury car-driving Westsiders a place to give their offspring a modified taste of rural upbringing — thanks to weekend parking lot pony rides, a candy shop, outdoor picnic table seating, and the new addition of Sweet Rose Creamery. Despite the Country Mart's remodeling over the years, one thing that seems to have always been there is Reddi Chick, the highly aromatic rotisserie chicken shop located in the central eating area.
Anyone who grew up within smelling distance (and wasn't raised vegetarian) has fond memories of the sticky roast chicken basket, smothered in seasoning salt-dusted French fries, and served with several tiny cups of barbecue sauce. Of course, as a child, what's not to like about your own personal tray of greasy finger food? But if you haven't been back since those younger days, can the chicken basket possibly taste as it does in one's own memories? We stopped by for our first taste of Reddi Chick in quite some time to find out.
At first, the quality of what you're served is almost irrelevant, as the fresh breeze, the scent of crackling chicken skin, and the cackling sounds of seven-year-olds playing, is enough to put you in a child-like and naively pleasant state. Once in that state, the sight of golden chicken buried under long, thin fries, is all you could hope for. Digging in, and allowing yourself to be analytical, the fries are not quite as salty or crisp you remember, and the chicken a good bit drier — but the mindless mess you create while dipping everything in barbecue sauce is exactly how it should be, and always has been.
No, it does not hold up against most of the Peruvian rotisserie spots throughout the city, or even Zankou for that matter, but its sheer existence in this precise context makes it work out perfectly well. Would we like them to roast the chicken for a minute or two less? Certainly. After all, it would give you the opportunity for yet more juice and fat to collect around the tips of your fingers and most of your face, which in this situation, is never a bad thing.
Reddi Chick: 225 26th Street, Brentwood, (310) 393-5238.
Noah Galuten can be followed on Twitter via @ManBitesWorld.