Would we go back:
979 Randolph Ave
• ¼ Fried Chicken Dinner w/ Fries, Roll, and Cole Slaw $5.48
Fried chicken is one of those things that is simply hard to do well. While the concept seems very simple take some chicken pieces, dip it in a coating and deep fry it, there is something magical that separates good from amazing.
Rooster's is amazing. It reminded me of the now closed Lucille's in North Minneapolis. A good piece of fried chicken is hard to top, and this was simply perfect. The chicken was super juicy, the skin crackling crispy. Perfect. The accompaniments were all good as well, except for the roll which was kinda hard. But who needs a roll when you have chicken, plate of fries and a bit of coleslaw, all for a bit over $5. They also sell the chicken by the bucket so there is officially no reason to go to KFC again.
• BBQ Rib Dinner w/ Fries, Roll, and Cole Slaw (slowly smoked baby back ribs, hot) $12.62
Rooster’s maybe has fallen out of favor with the popular press in the last ten years, but this remains a real neighborhood gem in the West Seventh neighborhood of Saint Paul. We ate in, which seems to be a little awkward in many barbecue joints. We watched takeout order after takeout order leave the place clutched by smiling customers. I still had no idea that it would be as good as it is.
Rooster’s puts a mean, hot barbecue sauce on their ribs. It’s not a burn-your-lips spicy, but the flavor lingers nicely, and the heat is cumulative. The ribs do not fall off the bone, but there is plenty of meat with enough fat to give it extra flavor. The ribs are well done, but not overdone.
The fries are equally impressive - a made-to-order deep flavor. The fries, roll, and cole slaw are served on a separate plate, so you can estimate that the fries are enough for two or three people. Unfortunately, the roll was inferior and stale, and the cole slaw was pretty bland. But that does not detract from an overall excellent meal at an excellent price.
It’s clear in my mind that Saint Paul has Minneapolis beat when it comes to down home barbecue. Rooster’s and Lee and Dee’s together and individually beat the best that we’ve had in Minneapolis. Like Lee and Dee’s, if you have the chance, you should eat in, soak up the atmosphere, and watch the takeout orders fly out the door.
July 28, 2006