In the summer of 1987, late in the afternoon before opening day of Hamersley’s Bistro in Boston’s South End, Gorgon Hamersley was still up in the air about his menu. He knew roast chicken in one form or another belonged on a bistro menu but had trouble coming up with a recipe. He tried herb butters and bacon wraps, bot nothing seemed to work.
Finally Hamersley and his sous chef had an idea. They made a parsley paste, rubbed in on the birds and set them aside to marinate overnight. The next day, they broiled the chicken until the skin was crisp and brown so that when it arrived at the table, the herby paste was transformed into a delectable crust.
Two months after Hamersley’s Bistro opened, a restaurant critic ordered the Roast Chicken with Garlic, Lemon and Parsley and was so carried away he telephoned Hamersley to prepare him for the response to his rave review. “Go buy more chickens,” he told Hamersley. The rest, as they say, is history.
Over the last 25 years, Hamersley figures he’s served more than 350,00 roast chickens. Some customers order it every time they eat at the restaurant. Occasionally Hamersley talks about taking it off the menu, but whenever he does, people complain. “All hell breaks loose,” he says.
—By Jean Kressy, a food writer in Ashburnham, Mass.