This restaurant review is from 2011 and was originally published on "Hot, Fast, Dirty", a website I'd intended to be for 500-word-or-less reviews of independent and lesser-known fast food joints. HFD has long since been closed and I've gradually been migrating the content to this site. As with all my food writing, you'll be able to find this and other reviews on the Restaurant Review Index.
Update February 26, 2013: This particular Lee's has closed it's doors. A new location in Campbell River has sprung up although they no longer seem to make the spicy chicken wings I loved so much.
There is no hope for the chicken. The first nail in its tiny coffin is that it is a graceless, unlovely beast whose daily routine consists of wobbling around a farmyard looking like an owl gone to seed. Not having a majestic bone in it’s body, it is eaten even by those who refuse the flesh of wild game because once upon a misty morning they saw an elk silhouetted against the rising sun.
The second mark against poultry is that it is annoying. Admittedly, being nature’s alarm clock the deck is stacked against it but with a little effort the chickencould have overcome. Instead it just dodders around making awful sounds and picking at the ground all day. There are ugly animals, just like ugly people, whose natural charisma allows others to see past negative characteristics like a body made of spare parts (platypus) or a nose straight out of the magazines that stores keep behind the counter (Proboscis Monkey). The chicken is not one of these animals.
The third and final strike? God made chickens delicious. This is the most damning trait possible for an animal with the defensive capabilities of a sofa.
Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken is a chain with a number of locations in the American southeast and 2, somewhat incongruously, here on Vancouver Island. Usually I opt for the 6 Piece Strip Meal ($10.99, includes a drink & 2 sides) and small buffalo chicken wings ($5.29 for 8 wings).
The strips are generous portions of all-white meat, offered in Famous or Crispy, of which Famous is my preferred choice, a slightly chewy and mildly spiced breading. The fries are fast-food standard, thin and crisp but with nothing to set them apart. The centerpiece of the 6 piece meal, or of any meal at Lee’s, is the gravy.
The thick, peppery elixir is the river that drives Lee’s turbine and easily outmatches the gravy from competing outlets like Popeye’s, Church’s or the dreaded KFC. The small container that comes with the meal is never enough and it’s so good that you can power right through the guilt that tries to stop you from buying a second round.
The other thing I adore about Lee’s is their commitment to serving up buffalo wings that you cannot eat in polite company. When ordering wings at many places it’s common to get short-changed on the amount of sauce you get – not so with Lee’s Buffalo Wings. On every visit they come covered in (literally) eye-watering amounts of hot sauce and are impossible to eat without looking like a two-year old tackling spaghetti for the first time.On occasion I’ve given into temptation and purchased the large order of wings ($8.99) but this is ill-advised as your sinuses will go into full shutdown and you’ll have to power-wash the sauce from your fingers.
They're worth the trouble, though, and Lee's is a chicken joint worth coming back to.