Hey guys, it’s another post from Tom, my husband and the co-designer of badsentences.com! Usually, he helps out with the blog’s design and maintenance, while also lending a hand in the photography. His talents also include: eating and reporting back on the types of seafood I don’t care for, always choosing an excellent bottle of wine, and being the best (non-canine) travel companion a girl could ever have.
Chicken for breakfast. On its own that idea actually sounds off-putting and doesn’t seem very appetizing to me. But, chicken AND waffles, that is a completely different story. The simple addition of another, more traditional breakfast item to the equation transforms the entire perception of the dish and transports me to a dreamy state of satiated, glutinous bliss.
Chicken and waffles seems to be an unholy union that only American ingenuity could have thought up. Take a breakfast staple that is sweet and decadent, such as waffles with maple syrup, and think to yourself: “You know what this needs?… Fried chicken.” But I commend the trailblazers who came up with this pairing and now find myself searching a brunch menu for it wherever I go.
So what makes a good chicken and waffles dish?
Personally, I am looking for a few things. For starters, the fried chicken should have a crispy, well-seasoned exterior that leads to juicy and tender meat on the inside. The waffle should have some similar characteristics: a slight crunch and crispiness to the outer shell that houses a light and fluffy interior.
For any dish, whether it be for brunch or dinner, that is made up of two headliners I think it is important to have them each be delicious on their own but also add something to one another when combined.
Lastly, I am looking for innovation. Chicken and waffle dishes are a dime a dozen in DC and it’s always nice to find a refreshing take on the classic dish. A unique offering can include something besides waffles, like biscuits or funnel cake (more on that later), it could have a unique sauce or gravy, or maybe a fried egg or something that is a bit different and takes the dish to the next level.
Although this is not an exhaustive list (the journey of an eater is never finished) this list highlights of a few of the best fried chicken brunch dishes I’ve had in DC:
Central by the late Michel Richard has been a staple of the DC dining scene for quite some time and the fried chicken is one of the stand outs. There were a couple of things I found exemplary with their fried chicken and waffle dish, starting with the chicken itself.
It had an extremely crispy breading that was somehow still light and airy. The all white breast meat was juicy and sat on top of a potato puree. The puree was a great touch that you don’t see much for brunch and added a nice contrast to the crispy chicken. The waffles were solid, but nothing to write home about either. There was a sauce on the bottom of the waffles that added a nice sweetness without drenching he dish or making anything soggy.
Overall, I liked the dish (Kacy seemed to like it a bit more than I did and raved about the chicken) but I didn’t think anything stood out too much or made me want to come back for another round.
Barrel showed me the dark meat side of fried chicken for brunch, and I loved it.
We first dined at Barrel before Top Chef Season 13 had aired but we were aware that Chef Garret Fleming was going to be on the show and were excited to try some of his food. The fried chicken and biscuit caught my eye as a nice departure from the traditional waffle pairing.
The chicken was mostly dark meat, which doesn’t seem as common for brunch. Dark meat can turn some diners away, but I found it to be one of the best fried chicken preparations I had ever tasted. It was beyond tender and juicy surrounded with a thick and crumbly breading.
The dish was all brought together by a biscuit that was buttery and fluffy sitting on top of a smoky gravy and topped with a sticky orange jam. The contrast of the jam went very well with the savory chicken and gravy.
I would definitely put this in the highest tier of fried chicken dishes I’ve had in the district for brunch.
We checked out Republic in Takoma Park last year were able to enjoy a rare outdoor brunch in late fall.
Upon reviewing the menu I quickly gravitated towards the buttermilk biscuit with scrambled eggs, fried chicken and bacon. I opted for the mixed greens on the side instead of fries because apparently that would make the dish healthier, haha.
It was nice seeing fried chicken make its way into a breakfast sandwich somewhere other than a Chick-fil-A. All the components of the sandwich were well executed: the bacon was thick and tender, and the chicken was crisp and juicy, and the biscuit simply melted in my mouth. The eggs were super fluffy and made with white cheddar for an extra dose of deliciousness.
Overall the combined bites of the sandwich were fantastic and makes Republic worth the trip just outside DC.
Chicken and funnel cake. ‘Nuff said.
I have a deep and passionate love for funnel cakes. So you can image seeing a dish like this available for brunch is going to get me pretty excited.
The dish comes as one large fried chicken breast is accompanied by a funnel cake topped with powdered sugar. Maple-infused gravy and syrup are also available for pouring and dipping.
All of the components of the dish were good, but not excellent. The stand out was the fried chicken, which was very juicy and was covered with a crunchy and tasty breading. The funnel cake was decent, but not quite up to the golden-fried standards of the Jersey shore grease bombs I am accustomed to. The gravy and syrup also added some nice sweetness to the savory flavors.
Overall, the novelty of the funnel cake was a bit greater than the actual experience, but still a very tasty dish that I would happily order again.
Since opening in Shaw last year, Convivial has quickly made it on many of the top restaurant lists in DC. The Fried Chicken “Coq Au Vin” on their dinner menu makes it easy to see why and also had me drooling at the idea of a brunch version of this dish.
Convivial’s fried chicken and waffle comes with a side of sausage gravy and a sunny side up fried egg on top. Although both the egg and gravy are common breakfast items, they are rarely seen with chicken and waffles. This dish proves that they should be.
The chicken itself was tender and covered in a rich breading that had a ton of flavor. It had been coated with a touch of the sausage gravy but still maintained a nice crunch to it. The waffle had a great buttery flavor and acted as the perfect bed for soaking up the gravy and the egg yolk. The gravy was thick and delicious with just the right amount of sausage in it.
In the end, this went down as my favorite fried chicken dish in DC, brunch or otherwise. It had all the elements that make up a great chicken and waffle dish and was just flat out delicious.
What’s your take on fried chicken for brunch? What are some of your favorite fried chicken dishes in DC?
I find the idea of “chicken and waffles” off putting because I am not a huge fan of fried foods to begin with. However, how Convivial presents their offering actually looks rather appealing to me. So, I would be open to trying it.
I used to feel the same way, but slowly over the years Tom has created a monster and now I crave chicken and waffles 🙂