I was starting to think I’d never try them. Back in New York, every time I brought up the idea of going to Harlem to get chicken and waffles, something came up. Either no one felt like going, no one was available, it was too far, other brunch plans came up, there wasn’t enough time. Always something.
But then I moved to San Francisco and found out that one of the 100 things I had to try here before dying was chicken and waffles at a place called Little Skillet. The food gods were in my favor, or so I thought, because it was just a few blocks away from work. I’d easily be able to pop over during my lunch break and finally basque in the delicious, fried, wonderfulness that is chicken and waffles.
But then, on two separate occasions, I went and came back chicken-and-waffleless. The first time it was at the hands of my ol’ nemesis, the “cash only” sign. I rarely have cash but I looked anyway and found a two-dollar bill and some euro cents. I left, empty stomached and dejected. Then the second time, with fresh-out-of-the-atm bills in my wallet, I went over during a lunch break with one of my coworkers… just to find out it had closed 15 minutes earlier, at 2. I won’t even get into how ludicrous I think it is to close a lunch place at 2pm, but just know that I’m not ok with it.
I wanted to give up but I just couldn’t. I didn’t want to wait till I got back to New York (still about another month away) and I didn’t want to look up other places in the city. I wanted chicken and waffles dammit, and I wanted them from Little Skillet. So, for the third time, I went. I had cash and left early, and thankfully, the food gods rewarded my commitment to the cause. I had my chicken and waffles.
Inside my wax-lined brown box was one fluffy, golden waffle with a beautiful, crunchy fried chicken thigh sitting right on top. A little sprinkle of confectioner’s sugar and of course, the oh-so-important maple syrup, and it was a sight to behold.
I poured the syrup over the whole thing and got to work chopping everything up. I made sure each bite was part waffle and part chicken, and then, before shoveling it in my mouth, I dragged it through a puddle of syrup. It was pretty much everything I could ask for out of a meal: sweet, salty, crunchy, juicy, soft, a total carb-overload. The chicken had a nice crunchy coat and tender, juicy meat underneath while the waffle was fluffy and chewy to balance it all out, and the syrup was just sweet enough to hold everything together in one big, sticky, wonderful mess.
But then there’s more.
Because it was Friday and I wanted to start the weekend right, I got dessert. Yea I know. Don’t judge me. So what if the sugar and syrup in the chicken and waffles practically made it dessert? I saw pecan pie and thought, yes, I will have you. And so I did. And it was good.
I don’t think I’ve had pecan pie since maybe last Thanksgiving so it was nice catching up with this old southern friend of mine. Little Skillet’s mini pie wasn’t as tooth-achingly sweet as some pecan pies tend to be, which I liked. The crust was flaky and buttery, and the filling was rich and sweet but not as sticky and gooey as some pies I’ve had. It didn’t put up a fight by sticking to my molars and clinging to the roof of my mouth. It was just good and tasty, no fuss.
Next up, the east coast version with chicken and waffles in Harlem!