We went 100 miles to Rip’s Tavern in Ladd, Illinois. Just to eat fried chicken. My friend, Laura, told me it was the best. She told me to “Get in the car!” So we did.
Ladd is situated in north central Illinois. You have the state try to tell you are driving through a scenic highway when in reality you are driving through this.
Flat with cornfields. Enjoy the ride.
Driving into Ladd, you find yourself in typical small town America and Rip’s exterior is just as unassuming. After going inside, we encountered The Line.
We were happy to actually get inside the building because, according to Yelp!, the wait has been known to be longer.
Faffing around for about an hour gave us a chance to get some libation from the bar and see how Rip’s operated. The hostess actually takes your order and inputs it into the system through her tablet while you are waiting in line. This is wonderful because you are waiting so long already. You don’t want to wait another hour once you are seated. Just don’t try to make any changes after you commit to your order. This is a pure assembly line operation that is focused on delivering its chicken to as many people as possible, and making exceptions could gum up the works. I have been told from firsthand experience that they almost take a “No chicken for you!” attitude if you ask for something else from the kitchen after the ordering is done. Be sure of what you want when the time comes.
Eventually we were seated, and we were asked if we wanted pickles and “crispies”. Of course, we said yes. Not knowing what “crispies” were, they could have been marinated toenails, but we were game for anything at that point. Upon the wait staff’s return, we were presented with a container of these.
Ah, the leftover bits of breading from the fryers became the appetizer. Clever idea and certainly lived up to its name. It was a delicious preview to the main event. The container slowly creeped its way directly in front of the Sprog as time went on. I was happy that my coleslaw came out early, so I could eat an approximation of a vegetable at least. The Boffin and the Sprog chose not to delude themselves with any sense of healthfulness.
And then after three hours of driving and waiting, Rip’s presented us with the Main Event. The top dish was mine. It was a 1/4 light chicken. The Boffin got a 1/2 light.
The verdict? I can say that, for the first time in my life, for a split second, I considered bestiality and necrophilia. Then I concluded that they must have played Barry White to the chickens just before they were slaughtered because it obviously made them much more receptive to the brining. How Rip’s kept the meat that juicy and flavorful while the coating remained so crunchy and tasty is a mystery. But I am grateful Rip’s is here in Illinois, and we can go there when we need our chicken fix.
An excellent beer pairing…Rip’s serve a local brew on tap called Bent River. I had their Raspberry Shandy which was perfectly light with such a heavy meal. And you can make up rude sounding mottos when your child is in the restroom.
Now we understand what the fuss is all about. KFC and Popeyes can kiss our asses. And chances are, said asses won’t grow much bigger because we don’t have the free time to drive 100 miles each way for fried chicken constantly.