If you haven't had fried chicken and waffles, you don't know what you're missing. (Credit: iStockPhoto)
Today, March 25, is International Waffle Day. As per usual, we want to assist you in celebrating by providing you with our top picks for delicious, inventive, gourmet waffle dishes.
In the city that’s home to Kandy Kake Sliders (brisket patties sandwiched between Peanut Butter Kandy Kakes) and Philly Tacos (Jim’s cheesesteak wrapped in a giant slice of Lorenzo’s pizza), we’re not talking run-of-the-mill buttermilk waffles, or waffles of the chain cafe variety here, delicious though they are.
We’re talking about creative new takes on the classic waffle and adventurous new waffle pairings that elevate it beyond the standard breakfast dish: like Belgian Stout Waffles with Belgian Stout Beef Stew, an awesome duck and waffles combo, and, of course, Fried Chicken and Waffles.
All of our top picks, below:
• Jones: This cozy Brady Bunch-living-room-themed Stephen Starr spot does comfort food with an inventive flair. And the Fried Chicken and Waffles is a perfect emblem: the dish consists of one fried breast and one fried thigh, half a Belgium waffle (the waffle batter is specially made with malted vanilla flavor), and gravy (a chicken velouté sauce, with diced onions, celery, carrots and pulled poached chicken). No wonder we have it from an inside source that this dish is “definitely a top five seller” at Jones.
• A Full Plate Cafe: This Northern Liberties spot is vegetarian- and health-nut friendly (think quinoa tabouli and root vegetable ratatouille), but nonetheless serves fried chicken cutlets over a Belgium waffle drizzled with BBQ syrup (that’s maple syrup mixed with BBQ syrup, but they’ll also serve the two sauces in separate containers if you’d rather). This dish stays on the menu year-round despite seasonal changes. We wonder why?
• Bridgid’s: As the self-proclaimed first establishment in Philadelphia to specialize in Belgian beers, it’s only fitting that they serve a Belgian Stout Waffle with Belgian Stout Beef Stew on their everyday menu. But it’s more surprising to see Panko-Breaded Chicken With Waffles topped with maple syrup on their Sunday brunch menu.
• Dutch Eating Place: For true homestyle cooking, Reading Terminal’s Pennsylvania Dutch counter serves up homemade chicken pot pie, shoo-fly pie with homemade whipped cream, farm fresh yogurt and the like. Their take on waffles: Creamed Chicken and Waffles served with homemade mashed potatoes, corn and gravy. The catch: they only serve this special every four weeks. We have your back — the next rotation starts the week of April 11.
• Supper: Chef Mitch Prensky serves up seasonal American cooking, but puts a French twist on chicken and waffles. His Duck and Waffles, a crispy confit duck leg atop a pecan sage waffle, served with farm cabbage and maple bourbon jus is considered a “staple” on the dinner menu. And, equally creative and palate-pleasing, you must try the Red Velvet Waffles with sweet cream cheese mousse, toasted pecans and bourbon cherries for brunch.
More, including some super decadent sweet waffle options, below.
• Ms. Tootsie’s: Home to Southern comfort staples like golden fried chicken, sweet potato cheesecake and macaroni and cheese with collard greens, Ms. Tootsie’s puts the South in South Street. Also available? Four fried chicken wings atop a big Belgium waffle (and you can sub in turkey wings for the chicken).
• Tavern 17: That rare breed of hotel restaurants that’s actually great all on its own, Tavern 17 serves big portions that are normally awesome but may prove troublesome (read: you’ll need a doggy bag) with the Bacon Waffles topped with Sage Fried Chicken and Maple Reduction. Salty, sweet, crunchy, good.
• Mi Lah Vegetarian: Mi Lah’s vegan brunch includes Yards Beer Battered Seitan on Belgian Waffles served with fruit salad to counterbalance the calorie payload, we guess. Go Saturday or Sunday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
• Chhaya Cafe: This relative newcomer to East Passyunk Avenue is earning its real estate rights, and then some, with its Veggie Chili And Cornbread Waffle with cheddar topped with a fried egg, which you can replace with an egg over easy or medium if you wish. It’s only served 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Insider tip: you can get table-service brunch on weekends, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Also worth ordering: French Toast Waffle with macerated berries and maple syrup.
• El Vez: For an innovative global twist on waffles, brunch at El Vez includes Canella Waffles topped with Mexican chocolate fondue, canella (similar to cinnamon) whipped cream and maple syrup. Brunch is only available Sundays 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
• Max Brenner: The Rittenhouse dessert kingdom does waffle desserts like few others. Go for the Banana Split Waffle: warm waffles topped with fresh bananas, melted chocolate sauce and candied hazelnut crunchy bits, served with a side of strawberries and blueberries, vanilla ice cream and warm melted chocolate sauce.
• Continental Midtown: The brunch menu, offered Saturdays and Sundays 10 a.m.-4 p.m. includes a to-die-for Tiramisu Waffle: a chocolate waffle made with chocolate batter sandwiched with mascarpone cream in the middle and topped with bourbon syrup. Stephen Starr clearly knows his way around a waffle iron.
• Fountain Restaurant at the Four Seasons: Psst, we have a secret. The Fountain’s seasonal menu includes Heirloom Pumpkin and Grand Marnier Scented Waffles with candied orange peels, only available during the holidays. But you can call ahead at least two weeks in advance and the chef will order the required ingredients specially for you. So that’s what five star service means.
• Franklin Fountain: The Old City ice cream institution makes a most portable version of waffles. They serve Ice Cream Waffle Sandwiches: hot waffles with any flavor ice cream. Good luck deciding among the jackpot of homemade options (rum raisin, pistachio, coffee, fresh peach, rocky road…)
• Marigold Kitchen: If there was ever a worthy reason to find your way to this quiet, tree-lined block of Victorian houses in the Spruce Hill section of University City, it’s for Marigold’s Chocolate Chip Belgian Waffles served with coconut whipped cream, toasted pine nuts, blood orange-cardamom syrup and shaved chocolate. They’re only available for Sunday brunch (10 a.m.-2 p.m.) or else we’d be here, ordering them, every single day.
• Morning Glory Diner: For both weekday breakfast and weekend brunch, you can order the Pecan Waffle with Whipped Peach Butter. Yes, it’s as amazing as it sounds.