Deep Fried Chicago: Milt's Barbecue for the Perplexed
Milt's Barbecue for the Perplexed in Lakeview really nails it with the name. If you're not thrown by the lime green bricks and exposed wood, you may be jarred by the concept of kosher barbecue (adios, piggies) in general. And while this thinking man's restaurant certainly raises a lot of questions, the answer is readily found in the food. From the sauces to the bread and butter pickles, almost everything is made in house, including an impressive array of fried options.
The sheer heft of the Brisket Chili Fries ($12.00) justifies its price tag, but there's much more to it than that. The Yukon Gold steak fries are substantial, fluffy, and respectably salted. The brisket chili is mild, with a taste that reminds of Wendy's (by no means a slight) and intermittently dispersed cubed carrots add a homey touch. Since the chili is a little wet, it tends to saturate the middlemost fries, but get five or six hungry people to race against time, and you should be ok.
This is admittedly my first experience with Fried Okra ($5.00), and this application is worlds apart from the tender specimens I've had in gumbo. The okra is crisp and peppery, leaving behind a slightly soapy mouthfeel, and the cornmeal is lightly and tightly adhered. Unlike the fries, this dish craves salt, though the rich garlic aioli certainly helps matters.
As we've seen before, Milt's really excels with meats between bread, and the Buffalo Fried Chicken Sandwich ($12.00) is no exception. The chicken is moist and flavorful, and the cornmeal breading ensures that it holds its own against the vinegary Buffalo sauce.
The Sweet Potato Fries ($4.00 as a side or $1.00 up-charge with sandwiches) are lightly battered and crisp. Though they could use a pinch more salt, the cinnamon-heavy apple pear ketchup enhances the fries' natural sweetness and more than makes up for it.
As confused as you might be stepping into Milt's, your questions will begin to melt away one bite in. And though you should eat here just because, the fact that they donate all profits to charity makes it a just cause, too.