The chicken ‘n diet

Pub date May 25, 2010
WriterL.E. Leone
SectionCheap Eats

CHEAP EATS We went down there, the Mountain and me, way down South of Market, and we found the little alley, placed our little order at the window, and sat on the loading dock, our feet dangling in the street. We sipped sweet tea and ate our breakfast out of boxes, with our hands. All my other friends, even Earl Butter, are fasting, doing cleanses, or otherwise flirting with vegetarianism by way of getting healthy — in response to which I have been eating nothing but chicken and waffles.

There’s good news out there. I’ll tell you what it is, and then I’m going on strike. But I wonder if I can trust the Guardian to print a blank page with just the words "Cheap Eats is on strike" in the middle of it. So maybe I’ll hold the spot with dada and gobbledygook … but wait, but that would be pretty much business-as-usual.

Hmm. It has also occurred to me of course to write restaurant reviews until my demands are met — to review the most boring restaurant(s) I can find, in the most boringly straightforward language I can mustard.

Think: completely unbuttered sentences without any grill marks whatsoever, stacked one on top of the other until you feel bricked in by important information, yet entirely unentertained.

Scary, innit?

Well, certainly flavorless, but I can do this, I think. The problem is it would be way more work than I am accustomed to, and I’m not sure that when you go on strike you’re supposed to work harder. Help me, labor organizers. It’s a topsy-turvy world, my world, and I am essentially (don’t forget) a chicken farmer. I don’t know anything about getting anything — except maybe eggs.

So …

Waffles. Chicken. Here’s what I know.

Farmerbrown’s Little Skillet is a good place to get greased, goo’d, and sweetened. And I mean all over your clothes, too, because there aren’t any tables to eat at. That’s OK, we’re human. This is why we have Laundromats. Not to mention napkins, but I don’t always remember about those.

You place your order at the window, then you eat across the alley on a loading dock or little wooden bench. And if you think that sounds just wonderful, wait’ll you crunch your teeth into that juicy fried chicken. It was the best I’d had since Auntie April’s, which was the best I’d had since Gravy’s. And suddenly we’re saying something.

Suddenly, chicken and waffles are alive and well — maybe even trendy — and not in Oakland this time, or even L.A., but right here in the city known as "The City." Where I live.

Auntie April’s Chicken ‘n’ Waffles is on Third Street in Bayview, and it’s an actual sit-down restaurant. Their Belgian-style waffles are about as satisfying as Gussie’s, but the chicken (fried to order, of course) is way, way better. And the combo is cheaper.

Even Farmerbrown’s Little Skillet, which is associated with Farmerbrown’s fancy-pants Tenderloin soul food restaurant, is cheaper than Gussie’s. Two pieces and a waffle for $8. Pick your pieces.

Not bad, considering one piece and a waffle at Gussie’s is $7.79, $9-something if you want a breast. (You don’t.)

Farmerbrown’s waffles, also Belgian style, were perfect: crispy outside with a soft middle. And their sweet tea was spectacularly sweet. Probably goes better with the pulled pork sandwich — which I think was the only other thing on the menu.

So I don’t know what to say. Slight edge to Auntie April for the fried. But Farmerbrown’s got her beat on the iron. Guess I’ve got two new favorite restaurants. Maybe more. There’s Frisco Fried, also in the Bayview, and Sockywonk says Hard Knox is doing chicken and waffles now too.

It’s an exciting time to be a restaurant reviewer. On a chicken-and-waffle fast. Send money. Someone. *


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