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Best Roast Chicken

Alain Ducasse
155 West 58th Street
212-265-7300

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Ordering the roast chicken at Ducasse requires a bit of resolve. You've come, after all, for the most exquisite cuisine imaginable, for the ingenious assemblage of the finest ingredients, for a choice of thirteen bottled waters -- and so, presumably, has your dining partner, whom you'll have to persuade to forgo fantasies of line-caught striped bass with citrus fondue, since the chicken feeds two. And later, you may have to defend your decision to your annoying foodie friends: "Who," they'll ask, "goes to the most expensive prix fixe restaurant in the city and orders chicken?" Anyone, you answer, who craves the juiciest, most delicately flavored fowl -- a milk-fed poularde, actually, raised on a small Pennsylvania farm -- with herbs stuffed under the skin, spit-roasted to a golden crispness, and served over toasted, garlic-rubbed country bread that soaks up the precious pooled juices. Don't stop there. Tell them about the elegant presentation and tableside carving. Taunt them with tales of the accompanying trio of roasted vegetables -- a perfect tomato, an onion, and an artichoke, variously stuffed with herbs, Parmesan, and tapénade. You'll leave them wondering how M. Ducasse manages to sell anything else. For a slightly less lofty but nevertheless succulent rotisserie bird, we go to Pio Pio (84-13 Northern Boulevard, Queens; 718-426-1010). The $26 combination platter includes a whole savory chicken, rice and beans, plaintains, and fries, but, alas, no post-meal lollipops.


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