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White Fence Farm - It's just not right!

  • d

White Fence Farm is hailed for its fine fried chicken. Celebrities rave, regular people rave. How could we miss! We both enjoy fried chicken and decided to stop by there on our way back from LaSalle. We were met by a very large, maze like place with tons of employees who lacked any emotion. Our initial greeting was nice enough, but that was probably the most pleasant thing we encountered.

We perused the limited menu, which appears to really promote the steaks. Confused by this but sticking with our original intent, we decided to go for the fried chicken. Everything on the menu is lauded as homemade. Now the word “homemade” combined with food always gets me excited because I enjoy good home cooking. After a considerable amount of time had passed, someone decided we should be taken care of. Since we prefer white meat chicken, we inquired about whether or not we could get the fried chicken dinner all white meat. We were met with a resounding no. Just no. Ok, on to ordering. We still wanted to try the fried chicken so we both ordered it. At $10.55 per person, we’re expecting some good chicken. Fortunately, before ordering dinner, I had seen some of the potatoes walk by and decided they definitely did not look homemade. In fact, I thought they were bringing out little bowls of ice cream instead. The scoops of potatoes were this pale, milky white color that resembled play dough. Glad I passed on that. I ordered the baked potato and hubby ordered the fries.

If you’ve never been to White Fence Farm, your dinner includes some relishes, as they call them, with your choice of potato and homemade gravy. The relishes include bean salad, cole slaw, pickled beets, cottage cheese and corn fritters and are delivered to your table rather promptly. The cole slaw was extremely vinegary, the bean salad unremarkable and the cottage cheese was cottage cheese. Not being beet fans, we passed on those. The corn fritters were tasty little morsels rolled in powdered sugar. Not greasy by any stretch and there were just enough to take the edge off our hunger. I could have chowed on those babies for quite some time.

Our food arrived, family style. We were given a plate of fried chicken and a cup of bright yellow (think marigold) stuff I think was gravy. Hubby started on the chicken while I prepped my potato. About the size of a young child’s hand, the baked potato was baked to the point of petrification. Dry through and through, this poor little spud was inedible. Asked for another and got one of the same, size and doneness. Hubby’s fries were neatly arranged on a saucer. We didn’t count them but guess he might have received 12 fries. The chicken was bland. Coated with some flour/moisture mixture and fried until soggy, the chicken had no flavor. Not even chicken flavor! The chicken was moist as if it had been brined for some time but really lacked taste. There was so much grease the napkins couldn’t even sop it up. I decided to see if the gravy might help with flavor. The gravy was basically soup base slightly thickened with cornstarch. I’m being generous with the thickened part. The gravy was the color of clarified butter and about the same consistency. Didn’t add flavor to the chicken or life to the potato. One piece of chicken and we both were feeling queasy. Our damages amounted to $25.00 for one of the worst dinners we’ve had. On the way out, we both stopped in the facilities to give the hands a good scrub. Funny thing is the liquid soap dispenser appeared to contain a substance similar in color and texture to the gravy. Scared me in the worst way!

In conclusion, if you’re cruising on I-55 and feel the need for fried chicken, pass the exit for IL Route 53 and find a Brown’s. It tastes better. Heck, I'll even go out on a limb and say KFC is better (and I really don't like there food!).

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  1. We went there a while back. Welcoming is not a term I would use to describe the atmosphere. We felt like there was a secret to getting service and everyone knew about it except us. Very institutional style service (i.e. school cafeteria) The food didn't leave much of an impression.

    1. If you're looking for fried chicken along I-55, check out Dell Rhea's Chicken Basket on Joliet Rd., just east of RT83. There were a couple of previous threads about Dell Rhea's (see link). It's a genuine Route 66 relic that still produces darn good chicken.

      Dell Rhea's has a web site at:

      Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

      Image: http://www.route66.com/DellRheasChick...

      1 Reply
      1. re: Rob S

        I'll second the vote for Dell Rhea's. Try it on the weekend when they have live entertainment - or go about 200 feet West to the Kerry Piper for some good Guinness desert after your chicken.

      2. Ouch!! One of my childhood favorites takes a hit! I remember going to White Fence Farm as a child in the '70s, and enjoying it very much, particularly the setting (literally, on a farm, which was quite impressive to a City kid) and the old cars, guns, farm implements and other ephemera that you could admire while you waited. The last time I was there was in the mid-80s, and even then I recall a feed-lot atmoshere, with parties taking numbers and waiting for hours to be called.

        I still maintain that the carry-out operation, in west suburban Riverside, on Harlem, just north of Ogden, is worth a visit. Give it a try if you're in the neighborhood.

        1 Reply
        1. re: john m

          "Ouch!! One of my childhood favorites takes a hit!"

          Funny, just what I was thinking.

          As a child in the late 60's early 70's I have fond memories of the place and yes I too used to eat as many corn fritters as I could get my hands on. I really liked the kernals of corn in them.

        2. I think Dee was just having a bad day. I go to that same restaurant quite often and never had a bad meal.She is wrong about not be able to get all white meat dinners, they will do it at a minimal extra cost.I went to the carry out last week and could not eat all the french fries they gave me.I think she was embellishing about her husbands portion of fries a little bit...

          1. I can't believe you feel this way about such a lovely place. Granted I could care less about the service of the staff, I found them to be polite and inviting (much the opposite experience that you had).
            I could take or leave the chicken as long as they gave me a personal vat of the fritters. I think you made a big mistake not enjoying white fence for the great place it is.

            1. Thank you! finally someone to prove I'm not the only one in mid-America that just "doesn't get" the White Farm hype!

              We have been twice over probably a 8 year period, both times with groups from the area that rave on the place. Both times were "meh" with a "meh" being a generous review. While I believe your server shortcutted you in replying you could not upcharge to "all white" I agree with the rest of your review. Nasty gravy, uninspired chicken, and service that told me I was "customer 489 that day and I could care less".

              Hate to say it, but I'm also not a big fan of Dell Rhea's either. It's all about service folks, and I just have yet to get the vibe I'm actually welcomed there. For me, don't shoot me...but if I'm craving some bird and in the area I pull off Weber and do a drive-thru at Popeye's. At least I know I'm getting some flavor and some chicken done right.

              7 Replies
              1. re: Deacon Volker

                When was the last time you went to White Fence? It must have been a while since you are talking about going there twice over the past 8 years.

                I do have to say that the chicken and potatoes aren't my favorite in the world, but the corn fritters make up for it leaps and bounds. I thought our server was super attentive and genuinely friendly.

                We were a pretty easy group to be honest. Most of us got the same thing: a southern comfort old fashioned, chicken dinner, then coffee and the birthday cake we brought. The potato did look like ice cream scoops, the gravy looked like lemon syrup, you got a small saucer of french fries, and the chicken was a fried disaster.

                But with all that said, the corn fritters made up for all the other little issues. In fact, I would drive the hour back over to get a to-go order for my boyfriend to try!

                1. re: PunkinnPi

                  @PunkinnPi...our last attempt would have been less than two years ago, the time before that would have been around 2003 as we started a class in the area. Don't misunderstand me, I'm happy you enjoy them, it's obvious many folks do as the restaurant has been an establishment for many years. I responded in the honest tone that I did however because if you note the big sign on I55, it clearly advertises "White Fence Farm"...Chicken. If they had called it "White Fence Farm House of Corn Fritters", well then, now we have a whole new ballgame.

                  1. re: PunkinnPi

                    Any review that contains the following comment " The potato did look like ice cream scoops, the gravy looked like lemon syrup, you got a small saucer of french fries, and the chicken was a fried disaster" guarentees that I'm not going there. I've always wanted to try WFF but not now. Their claim to fame is FRIED CHICKEN and it was a "Fried Disaster"? How can that be a "little issue" it's the main course, the reason for going! Thanks to the people on this board for warning me away.

                    1. re: hoppy2468

                      I think it's all in your perspective. If you go there expecting a lovely little meal with gorgeously arranged food and perfection, this isn't the restaurant for you. I feel like it's quaint and adorable, friendly and very inviting.
                      The potatoes are scooped like ice cream, but that doesn't mean they don't taste good. The gravy is pretty good (so I heard from my sister who ordered them). I had the french fries, and I felt that I had enough. Too many restaurants give you mounds and mounds of food when you only need small helpings. As far as the chicken, it's just a different kind of breading on the outside. I agree it's much different than the chicken I'm used to, but it's definitely moist and juicy :)

                      If you choose to not stop in and experience White Fence Farm for yourself, then it's your loss.

                      1. re: hoppy2468

                        Gravy that looks like lemon syrup is, to me, chicken gravy.

                        1. re: LikestoEatout

                          Exactly, and it seems like that would be appropriate the be served with chicken! :)

                        2. re: hoppy2468

                          Don't expect mind blowing food at WFF. I live very very close to one of their take out locations. The gravy is electric yellow goo, the chicken is either over brined, salty garbage, or, you might get a good piece (just luck of the draw,) and the corn fritters that everyone raves about are essentially fresh fried donuts. Go for yourself, you might love it. Just be warned about what you will be getting.