3332 South Bristol St.
Santa Ana, CA 92704
I'm not really a big fan of chicken. It's not that I don't think that's it's okay, but I think that out of all the proteins out there, it's usually kind of boring. A lot of places overcook it, and it tends to be dry. I also have a subliminal reason for not liking this particular poultry item, math.
When I was in 6th grade, my math teacher, Mr. Taravella was obsessed with chicken, and he included it in any math problem that he could. Without getting to psychological, I figure my low math score back then has something to do with my feelings towards chicken. Even with this hanging over my head, I simply had to try Chicken Maison in Santa Ana.
Chicken Maison has been on my list for a long time, and because the guys over at OC Weekly always wax poetic about their garlic dipping sauce, we had to make a visit. After Katie's work closed up shop in Ontario, she has been trying to find a restaurant in OC that has a great garlic dipping sauce. We were hoping that this spot would be able to replace what Katie called a medicinal garlic sauce that she used to enjoy out in the Inland Empire.
I did not know it at the time, but Chicken Maison is a mini chain, which is based in the South Bay, and has five locations, with this being the only OC spot. Their menu of course features their famous rotisserie chicken, but also includes other Mediterranean favorites, such as kabobs, gyros, falafel, soups, and salads. Ordering is done at the counter, and then you find a table in the larger than I expected dining room. Even at this later than average dinner hour, (8 pm), the restaurant was lively, with many people gorging on chicken.
Before we get to the rotisserie chicken, let's take a look at Katie's selection on this evening, the Chicken and Veggie Kabob ($9.50). This combination plate came with one chicken kabob, one veggie kabob, two side items, pita bread, and of course a cup of garlic sauce. A very good value for under ten dollars. Katie called this meal delicious, and loved the tenderness and flavor of the chicken. The garlic sauce was still not as good as the one by her former workplace, but she liked it, and she thought it kind of had a tzatziki feel to it. For her two sides she went with the Humus and Rice. She thought these were okay, and would probably get another one of their eight other side items on her next visit. She did not like the sweetness that was added to the rice in the form of golden raisins. She also felt the humus had a good texture, but the flavor was kind of flat. Still a filling meal at a great price.
Now the reason why I was here, and maybe everyone else, by the looks of the people eating here on this evening, the Half Chicken ($10.95). Chicken Maison offers three varieties of rotisserie chicken; original, lemon-basil, and the version I had, the spicy lemon-garlic. The first bite I had of the breast was a little on the dry side, but made much better with the more garlic than spicy coating surrounding the chicken. I also liked the garlic sauce, but wished that it packed more of a garlic punch. The dark meat pieces of the chicken were tender and moist. I'd definitely ask for all dark meat on my next visit here, as I'm always partial to dark meat. The spicy humus was on point, and went well with the pita that was supplied. Unlike Katie, who thought the rice was too sweet, I kind of liked this, and enjoyed mixing it with the garlic sauce. A very solid, and filling plate of food.
Eating here at Chicken Maison did not turn me into a chicken fanatic, but I would not shy away from the chicken when coming here to eat. This place is a great option for people in the South Coast Plaza area, looking to get out of the madness of that shopping center, and ready to have a good meal at a more than fair price. The service here bordered on great. Everyone was so nice, answered all of our questions, and seemed to genuinely care about how much we enjoyed our food. They also kept the tables cleared quickly, as it was still pretty crowded at 8:30 when we left. We would definitely not shy away from coming back here again when we are in the area.
Out of five coops, (because I learned that maison means house in French, and a house for chickens is usually a coop), five being best to zero being worst, Chicken Maison gets 3 coops.
For more information about Chicken Maison, go to their website here: http://www.chickenmaison.com/index.html