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New England Dining >>> Berched chicken dinner, River Falls Restaurant and Lounge, Woonsocket, R.I.

Ma Glockner's chicken sign photoTIME TO DO THE CHICKEN DANCE!

Ma Glockner's famous berched chicken dinner now roosts at the River Falls Restaurant in Woonsocket, R.I.

Article and photo by Eric H.

(WOONSOCKET, R.I., JULY 21, 2009) - The River Falls Restaurant and Lounge in Woonsocket, R.I., recently brought back the legendary berched chicken dinner made famous by the former Ma Glockner's restaurant, of Bellingham, Mass.

Berched chicken --  a recipe developed by "Ma" Glockner back in 1937 and served until the restaurant's closing in Sept. 2008 -- includes a special process of steaming a seasoned chicken breast for several hours and then searing it on a grill for seven minutes.  At this writing, the River Falls serves the berched chicken dinner for only $10.99 per person on Sundays from 12-8 p.m., and includes other Ma Glockner's favorites like a house salad with French dressing, made-from-scratch cinnamon rolls, a choice of baked sweet potato or hand-cut fries, and cranberry sauce. The much-beloved, delicious Ma Glockner's homemade coconut cream pie is back, too, at $4.00 a slice.

Dave Gouin, a managing partner of the River Falls with Gary Fernandes, said that reintroducing the berched chicken has been a big hit, serving 400 chicken orders on Sunday at their casual, family-oriented restaurant.

"People really love this dish," said Gouin  "We've been getting some big crowds that, quite frankly, we never expected so soon."

Bringing back the berched chicken dinner involved  getting permission from a former Ma Glockner's owner to bring back the dish, hiring past Ma Glockner's employees, seeking out the original recipe, and, ultimately, performing some heavy prep work on Sunday mornings to ensure "the freshest quality," according to Gouin.

After Ma Glockner's closing, Gouin hired former head waiter Jim Tripodi. From the get-go, Tripodi suggested adding the berched chicken dinner to the River Falls menu. Gouin hesitated, initially thinking the chicken wouldn't fit into the River Fall's vision.

"I never wanted to add the chicken to our menu," said Gouin. "We were a little more upscale, but then I realized it was a different type of chicken -- not the typical type you could find all over Rhode Island."

After receiving permission from former Ma Glockner's owner Chris Ballarino to feature the dish on the River Falls Sunday menu, Gouin and Fernanades hired former Ma Glockner's chef John Miranda.  One night while struggling to recreate the original Ma Glockner's coconut cream pie recipe, the River Falls chefs contacted Linda Blais, a Ma Glockner's owner from many years ago, now living in Florida. Blais helped the River Falls with the coconut cream pie recipe, but she also had the original berched chicken recipe from 1937.  With her help, the River Falls would soon put all the pieces of the puzzle together and start serving the berched chicken along with its trademark side dishes and coconut cream pie on March 15, 2009.

To bring out the full flavor of the berched chicken dinner, the River Falls food staff shows no compromise in quality by starting preparation of the 400 chickens at 6 a.m., Sunday morning.

Gouin recommends making reservations for this special Sunday dinner, given the consistent popularity.

"It's almost like a cult," said Gouin, regarding people's love for the berched chicken. "I thought this was a Bellingham, Blackstone Valley (a region of Rhode Island) thing, but people from all over Rhode Island -- including Newport -- have been coming here for the dinner.  The same with people from different areas of Massachusetts. It's unbelievable."

The River Falls Restaurant is located at 74 South Main St., Woonsocket, RI,. Tel. (401) 235-9026.


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