Chef Obsession: Chicken

The Lobby's Lee Wolen loves his birds

"It's the best thing ever," says Lee Wolen as he stands over a plate of roasted chicken thighs in The Lobby at The Peninsula Hotel.

His favorite protein has gained him acclaim in his nine months as chef of the hotel's lobby restaurant. At night, he serves a much-lauded whole-roasted bird for two ($54), a cooking style he learned at New York's Eleven Madison Park.

It's a striking, revelatory bird, with crisp, cinnamon-hued skin stretched taut by a stuffing of brioche, butter, lemon and thyme. The breast, served whole, is shockingly juicy; the thigh and leg meat arrives pulled and tossed with roasted garlic and chicken jus.

By day, Wolen is strictly a thigh guy. For his brand-new lunch menu, he roasts deboned Amish chicken thighs at a low temperature for two hours, then crisps the skin with a blast of high heat. The meat is fork-tender and the skin golden, complemented by colorful, flavorful plate mates: roasted garlic and carrots, carrot purée and pickled radishes ($20).

Chicken appears in lunchtime's artichoke soup ($12), too, as breaded and fried nuggets lacquered with a flavorful coat of reduced chicken jus.

Another thing to give a cluck about.