Chicken & Waffles: The Very Good & The Really Bad

It has been a while since we’ve ranted!

As a chicken & waffle enthusiast, I am appalled. No, I’m actually pissed off. Most restaurants are flat out messing it up. Maybe saying “messing it up” is wrong, what lots of places are really doing is f*cking it up.
What makes me mad is all the cute stuff. Chicken & waffles is supposed to be just that; chicken & waffles. I can’t tell you how many times I have been to a Connecticut restaurant and the chicken is good, so is the waffle, but they serve a straightforward dish like this with greens or a veggie medley. Seriously, stop. We eat chicken & waffles because we honestly don’t give a crap about health, otherwise we wouldn’t order it! The only acceptable vegetable that should accompany chicken & waffles is macaroni & cheese or more chicken or more waffle. 
Blu Parrot (closed) was close. Veggies and half a waffle…That sucks.

My “WTF, why?” moment was when I tried the collards at Mama’s Boy.
There have been good variations of my favorite fat boy dish in CT though. Before Blu Parrot in Westport (Saugatuck) closed they had a good thing going; crispy, thick coated, golden brown chicken but their errors…Tiny pieces of waffle and veggies = FAIL.
Mama’s Boy in SoNo is another goodie. They use Cornish game hen with a nice crust that’s not too greasy. It’s definitely a flavorful bird but they lack in the “amount of waffle” department and lose points for spicy collard greens.
What I’m trying to get at here is this…Please, for the love of god, give us some damn waffle, stop being cutesy, or as DMX would say, “STOP BEING GREEDY.”
The REAL deal chicken & waffles presentation should follow the suit of a Roscoe’s; a full waffle, and a good amount of chicken or options that include more chicken. A true gangsta knows how to really go about eating chicken & waffles; you debone the chicken, put it in the waffle (make a taco even), pour the syrup on it, and destroy it using your mouth. 
One of the best examples I can give you in this area that served the dish with multiple pieces of chicken and a full waffle (Belgian style) is the now closed Jeff’s Cuisine in Norwalk where the dish was a special from time to time. Also deserving a tiny shout-out is Bar Qin Stamford for their bite sized version called Hot Honey Chicken & Waffles that is the perfect mouthful of spicy and sweet. 
Buttermilk Channel’s inventive/cute take is damn good but still not what I’m looking for.
Not to be forgotten is Buttermilk Channel a Brooklyn restaurant that you can even find at Smorgasburg. Their chicken cannot be rivaled my many, they get extra points for providing pickles for a contrasting taste, and I like the creativity of the cheddar waffle. I just wish there was MORE WAFFLE to be had! 

Under that chicken is a full waffle! Yeah, buddy.

Why am I happy? Cuz I can do this. Chicken & waffle open-faced sandwich!
The best East Coast version for the guys and me was at Keven Parker Soul Food at Philadelphia’s famed Reading Terminal Market. We caught a whiff walking by and saw the sign advertising fried saltiness and sweet goodness when we all kind of did that pawing thing as if to say, “Dude. We have to eat here.” This O.G. version was three pieces of greasy, crispy, well-seasoned fried chicken, a full homemade waffle (it’s under the chicken in the pic), a side of mac & cheese, and a buttered roll. What Keven Parker does right is eliminate the frills and serves up this dish in its simplicity.
The only way I can really sum this up…
Restaurants, just chill. You don’t have to try to be smarter or more creative than the next guy. Chicken & waffles should be simple! Just give us a few pieces of chicken, a full waffle and some maple syrup because not a lot of you are serving it that way. A buttered waffle and fried chicken on a plate may not earn you presentation points, but it’ll be better than that cute shit your competitors are putting out.

13 Comments Add yours

  1. Um…I'm hungry now, and I can't have this as a midnight snack =P

    I rarely get chicken n waffles, but the best I've tried so far is from Mama's Boy in SoNo. The next I've gotta try is from Hill Country Chicken in NYC and Bklyn.

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  2. Bonnie says:

    I loved the chix and waffles at Mama's Boy. And I loved the collard greens too! I've only had chix and waffles down south – so that's the only dish I have to compare it to, and the greens worked for me.
    I think most restaurants try to elevate and improve any dish they serve. If it's something I'm used to having prepared a completely different way, I just take it as a new variation.
    My mother told me when I was little and trying to sneak me some liver, that it [liver] was just steak cooked a different way. Well, obviously she lied (OMG) but I think since then it's helped me to appreciate different foods, and styles of cooking

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  3. Ha! Yeah, I could totally go for one of these dishes in this post.

    It's amazing how many places make it differently or serve it with or without something. I get mad when there's no syrup though!

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  4. Sometimes I think I should give their collards another try. I don't know what it was that day but they were a weird type of spicy/seasoned. Not hot ( I love heat) but more like too peppery.

    They'll always try new take on classics but I'm impressed when a restaurant can pull off the simple techniques and that's coming from a guy (me) that loves modern food.

    Sneaky trick with the liver! LOL!

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  5. Haha, I see that you're definitely passionate about your chicken and waffles. Have you tried them at Hash House at Mohegan Sun. I don't like much on their menu but this is one thing they get right.

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  6. Dude I can't believe you didn't include walrus + Carpenter…. best chix n waffs ever!! Half a chicken and a full waffle… come on man!!

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  7. Yes, I think I know what you mean. I thought the collard greens were a little acidic, which I thought was a bit odd, but since that vinegary taste is something I like, I didn't mind it.
    I did think it paired well. They're both such traditionally southern dishes, and the acid balanced the fried.
    Give it another try!

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  8. I've been to Walrus many time but not for brunch. I'll be on that real soon!

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  9. Will put it on my list! Been a while since I've been to Mohegan but I think I've eaten at every fine dining place there. Hash House is a must for an upcoming visit.

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  10. Jessie says:

    Never had chicken and waffles before… But that sandwich one looks really good!

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  11. You must! Join the movement 😉

    I made that sandwich myself! Basically the real chix/waffle experts take the chicken off the bone and pile it on the waffle, drizzle syrup over the top and go to work on it so you get everything in one bite.

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  12. The Craft Butchery in Westport has some of the best chicken and waffles this side of the Mason Dixon line.

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  13. I go to Craft Butchery a lot! But sadly I have not been for their weekend brunch. You better believe their version of chicken & waffles is on my radar 😉

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