“Wake up! Let’s go get some breakfast.” I was roused from my bed by this insistent text message, sent ten-fold from A.R. on a frigidly cold Sunday morning. Now, the normal person may find the 9am meeting time way too early for a Sunday morning meal, but the truth is I’m always happier to venture out early to the brunch places than to wait until a more appropriate brunching time as lines and waits get longer and the tiny restaurants spill over with waiting guests. Plus, I was already awake at the time the text came through because, apparently, I can no longer sleep obscenely late on a weekend. Welcome to adulthood.
“Is there a place by you?” he asked. There are tons of brunch places in my neighborhood, but realizing that the temperature had yet to barely climb into the teens, I remembered that Waffles had moved into the area, occupying a space that had recently housed an all-night burger/hot dog joint that lasted all of about two months. (Seeing the place closed so soon after I had eaten there gave me pause. I decided not to get close enough to the window to read the notice taped inside and take the fact that I hadn’t gotten sick as a win.) I vaguely recalled Waffles being on an episode of the Cooking Channel’s Unique Sweets, which piqued my interest, but the real reason I wanted to go there that morning was that it’s located exactly three blocks from my apartment. On a 14-degree day, that matters.
Waffles offers, as you may deduce, a variety of waffles, but also a number of other dishes as well. I went with the eponymous dish, selecting the Chicken and Bacon Waffle, while A.R. went the other way, choosing chilaquiles. I joked that we had ordered according to our opposing ethnic stereotypes – he, being black and from the south, ordered the Mexican dish while I, being Hispanic and from the southwest, ordered the chicken and waffles. (True, I’m also half-black, but culinarily speaking I may as well be 100% Mexican.) I admit, the chilaquiles had caught my eye as well, but having had one too many bad dishes of soggy tortillas smothered in sauce – most recently at Topolobampo, of all places – I quickly dismissed the idea.
The Chicken and Bacon Waffle came with four waffle quarters, topped with crumbled bacon, green onions, a fried chicken leg and thigh, and a slightly spicy maple syrup. The waffle was nicely crisp and sweet, offset by the saltiness of the bacon, which was just the right size to be scooped up neatly into the waffle’s indentations. Sometimes I find that “bacon waffles” incorporate pieces of bacon that are too large and, therefore, too chewy to be eaten nicely with a soft, doughy waffle. The chicken was fine, though it lacked a little in seasoning, and the maple syrup was nice although there was simply too little of it. Surprisingly, the star of the dish was the green onions. They imparted a sharp, savory freshness to the dish, cutting through the sweetness of the waffle and the fattiness of the bacon and the chicken. I was amazed to realize that those tiny snips of green raised this bacon waffle past any other I’d ever had. They alone made it a dish worth ordering.
For good measure, I also took a bite of A.R.’s chilaquiles and was a little disappointed I hadn’t gotten that instead. Topped with avocados and covered in a thick red sauce and yet still crisp, I know I’ll have to come back for this one day. Being only three blocks away makes it the perfect stop, regardless of the finger-numbing temperatures that would otherwise keep me bundled up inside.