During Arts Goggle last Saturday night, Chow, Baby and the beloved … wait, you ask, don’t you mean the ex-beloved? (We pretend for the sake of Chow, Baby’s ego that you care about its semi-private life.) Nope; as it turns out, that Valentine’s Day breakup was just one of those season finale dream-sequence fakeouts. After three months of reruns from earlier seasons, we’re now acting like that whole story arc never happened. And hoping that Chow, Baby’s ratings will pick back up.

chadraPlot synopsis for the new-season opener: It’s Saturday night, and Chow, Baby and the beloved stop at Chadra Mezza (1622 Park Place Av.) to once again face our loving bond’s archnemesis: Heavenly Chicken ($13.95), the dish that’s just too good to share. But in a do-over of the January 2008 fork-fight that launched us on our destructive path of non-sharing, this time we agree to get two orders. And that one little decision transforms everything, like in that other TV Land staple where you go back in time to do one tiny but crucial thing differently and change the entire world.


The first shocking change: In this new timeline, we didn’t have to order at all. As an Arts Goggle special, Chadra was setting out its fabulous Friday night buffet ($15.95) on this Saturday — and Heavenly Chicken was on the steam table! We both got all we wanted! With the universe restored to perfect harmony, we even, nicely, shared a bowl of mojito ice cream ($1.99).

’Course, it’s also a Hollywood rule that every timeline shift has unintended consequences: In this parallel universe, buffets are better than ever. Certainly Chadra’s is always great (lamb chops!), and a couple of marvelous Sunday buffet-brunches come to mind (Lambert’s, Blue Danube). But usually, Chow, Baby waddles out of a buffet feeling like it ate four people’s worth of puddly-steamed or heat-lamp-scorched semi-organic material. Not fun. But not any more! At Blue Mesa (1600 S. University Dr.) the next morning, we enjoyed chicken enchiladas that were miraculously moist, non-limp beef fajitas, red chile salmon that was crispy only in the right places, roast brisket with actual juice, and much more. It looked like a buffet, but the food was great. And because the better something tastes, the less you need to eat to feel satisfied, Chow, Baby stuffed in only enough for two people — yet still got its money’s worth ($17.95).

Central Market (4651 W. Fwy.) isn’t technically a buffet, but because of all the yummy noshes it sets out for taste-testing, Chow, Baby and the beloved tend to treat it that way. (We drop mucho dinero there on actual purchases, so it’s OK.) In this newly perfect world, we did even better than the usual bites of cherub tomatoes, freshmade guacamole, honeydew, Atlantic salmon, and rosemary cheddar buckwheat onion bread — Central Market is celebrating the bicentennial of Argentina’s freedom from Spain with Passport to Argentina (through May 25), so these days the free tastings include Argentinean breakfast sausage, chimichurri, grilled steak, alfajores (kinda like moon pies), and sips of yerba maté (kinda like gritty tea). In addition to Argentinean foods and wines, Central Market is hosting all kinds of related cooking classes, demos, and parties … say, is there a world in which Chow, Baby could get the beloved to share a tango? No, we’d better stick with buffets, where both of us can take the lead.

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