Settle in for a Long Winter's Nap After Dinner at Feed

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[Photographs: Joe Roy]

With the weather now past crisp and decidedly into "cold" territory, it's time for comfort food, and lots of it. You'll get that at Feed, a kitschy Humboldt Park spot serving at least what we Northerners must assume they eat all the time in the South: platters of chicken, pulled pork, fried green tomatoes, and sides, sides, sides. To paraphrase Jay-Z, the bar for nice-cooked food like this isn't that high: so long as it's hot, plentiful, and makes you think of home (yours or what you'd imagine to be the cook's), everyone leaves happy. As it stands, Feed misses this mark, though a little more effort would go a long way toward rectifying its shortcomings.

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On special the night I stopped in, the BBQ Pork Chops ($10.99, with two sides) is respectably pink in the center, though brining would result in more tender meat than the a la minute seasoning it received instead. The sweet and tangy sauce leans toward A.1. territory, and all in all, these wouldn't be out of place in a Midwest mom's weeknight menu rotation.

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Well-seasoned with a respectable char, the Whole Chicken ($15.99, with three sides) has definite potential, but is texturally damned. An overheard conversation between the counterman and a frequent customer explains it all: the whole chickens are cooked on a rotisserie and then crisped to order on the grill. In theory, that could be fine, but cooked too long and held even longer (as here), the chicken suffers from a mushy, chalky mouthfeel. The side of charred tomato salsa might have helped matters, were it salted and spicier. I get that rotisserie cooking doesn't really lend itself to the unpredictability of off the street customers, but when the bulk of the menu is devoted to such fare, that's up to the kitchen to figure out.
 
If you've been keeping count, between the chops and the chicken, I was able to try five of Feed's myriad side offerings. Unfortunately, more is less here, with most suffering from the same serving pitfalls as the chicken.

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The Macaroni & Cheese is church potluck style: soft noodles, dry-ish texture, and just enough cheese to give its name credence. A little salt and a warmer serving temperature would move this to the front of the pitch-in line, though.

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On special along with the pork chops, the Sweet Potato Fries are the soft, thick, floppy take on the spud alternative. They do the trick, especially if you're looking for something somewhere between fries and mashed potatoes.

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Online Yelp photos of the Corn Pudding promise a tender, soufflé-like mound, with corn kernels to spare. What I got must have been the dregs of that vision: a pile of charred edge crumbs and little else. There's nothing wrong with cooking this sort of fare en masse, just so long as it's not immediately apparent that I'm eating the tail end of yesterday's batch.

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There were highlights, though. The puckery vinaigrette on the Beet Salad kept me coming back for more, enlivening my palate with each bite of the toothsome beet and red onion mix.

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After two years of raw kale salads, returning to the slow cooked home court of hearty greens is an adjustment. But once you get used to the idea of not having to chew much, the Collard Greens are a standout: the potlicker is refreshingly spicy, and though tender, the greens retain sufficient bitterness to cut through the otherwise rich spread.
 
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You can't (which is different than shouldn't, by the way) end a meal like this without a few desserts, and the Banana Pudding ($3.50) is well worth finding room for. The bananas are nice and ripe, adding a taffy like texture to the gussied up boxed vanilla pudding. Soft and chewy, the Nilla Wafers add a sort of lady finger like quality to the dessert.

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The Filbert's Cream Soda Float ($2.50) is my experience at Feed in a nutshell. Good quality soda and creamy vanilla ice cream shouldn't miss, but serving the former at room temperature and not adding enough of the latter results in a float that was less than the sum of its parts. As with most rest of the menu, all the pieces are here for a comforting break from the cold weather outside. All Feed needs to do is work on the arrangement.

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