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Letdown at Lulu's 

South American restaurant needs tweaks.

THE SPECIALTY: Chicken with quinoa and black beans and rice.
  • THE SPECIALTY: Chicken with quinoa and black beans and rice.

Store-bought rotisserie chicken is pretty amazing. You can get a whole tender, juicy, well-herbed bird at the Walmart Neighborhood Market for $4.99. That's a lot of really good eating for less than a typical drive-through meal.

So when your specialty is rotisserie chicken, as it is at Lulu's Latin Rotisserie and Grill, you'd do well to elevate yourself above grocery store food. And, frankly, Lulu's doesn't. Our quarter-chicken — the thigh, leg combo — was fine, but not only wasn't it any better than store-bought chicken, it wasn't quite as good. It was $7.50, with two sides, not an exorbitant price at all for a filling lunch, but still. (The breast/wing combo is $8.50.)

Lulu's is a cool spot, a clean, smart space with a bit of South American art and framed prints on the wall, and soft Latin jazz with vocals on the jam box. But the menu is small, and nothing we had was exceptional.

We got the empanadas ($6) to start and opted for one of each type offered — cheese, spinach and cheese, and beef. The fillings were fairly sparse, with air pockets between the filling and the crust, but each was tasty. The cheese was OK; adding spinach helped. The beef version was the best but it wasn't boldly flavored. You'll get about three bites out of one.

The chicken, as we said, was fine but not close to exceptional — less moist and flavorful than store-bought. The Lulu's green sauce was fresh and tasty. (Chimichurri and Aji Amarillo or yellow pepper are the other sauce choices.) We chose the least familiar two sides — fried yucca and fried plantains — and found both pretty boring. Yucca is a root vegetable, not too unlike potato. This yucca was cut like fries and tasted a bit like them, just not as creamy inside and missing the salt. The plantain did not taste like much of anything.

Lulu's offers three sandwiches: grilled steak, grilled chicken and Choripan ($7.95), which we opted for. The sausage in the Choripan, traditionally made with chorizo, wasn't as flavorful or greasy (and greasy is good in our book) as the chorizo we are used to. There was an exceedingly high bread-to-meat ratio, and the accompanying fries were nothing special.

The best thing we had was the dessert empanadas, mini-apple pies with plenty of spice and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce.

Lulu's is owned by chef Heinz Kurt, a Bolivia native who has worked with the Yellow Rocket brain trust at ZAZA's. He was on the floor greeting customers and seems like a nice guy. But for Lulu's to survive, he will need to figure out a way to make his food more distinctive.

Lulu's Latin Rotisserie and Grill
315 N. Bowman Road
501-228-5564

QUICK BITE

Lulu's, which does dinner only three nights a week (down from six when it opened), has a small, nice selection of beer and wine, including the fabulous Dale's Pale Ale ($5), which hit the state only in the last couple of months.

HOURS

11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

OTHER INFO

Credit cards accepted, wine and beer served.

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