Thursday, June 26, 2014

Chicken and Waffles

I have been a chicken and waffles fiend recently. Any place that I could find chicken and waffles, I have made sure to go there. Anywhere that I have been eating and just happened to see C&W on the menu, I obviously order them. And through all of this, the infatuation is not weakening at all, it is only getting stronger.

To explain the genesis of this obsession, I will have to take you back a couple months. I have been traveling a bit more recently, for my day job (this is the reason that I have regrettably left my 2 readers feeling neglected). I was sitting in a meeting, on site with a client, and they catered in fried chicken. I had not had fried chicken in some time and in a fried chicken coma I mentioned that the only thing that could have made it any better was if it had come with waffles. To my surprise, about half of the people in the room looked at me with a blank stare and had never heard of C&W. I was befuddled. We all then had a good long conversation about the best C&W place that everyone, that had previously had C&W, had been.

My favorite, of course, was the C&W that I had tried from Gram & Dun at Jazzoo a couple of years ago. The symbiotic relationship of maple syrup and hot sauce together was nearly transcendent.

Another person mentioned Lo-Lo's in Phoenix, which has now been added to my bucket list.

A third person brought up the secret menu at McDonald's and that allegedly you can get a chicken patty between two McGriddle patties  when you order "chicken and waffles". Although a quick Google search corroborates this story, I went to an embarrassing number of McDonald's trying to order this (for scientific purposes) and came up empty handed at all of them. I did get one "I need to come eat with you" though, so there was that.

I knew that when I got back to KC, I had to start hunting down C&W like a vigilante to write this post.

My first stop: Niecie's Niecie's on Urbanspoon. Their online menu showed the C&W under the breakfast menu, the online menu also stated that breakfast was only served during breakfast, so I thought that it was probably a good idea to call and make sure that I could get C&W when I showed up for lunch. I knew that I was going to love this place from the moment that I called to ask the above question and received the answer "No, we all day Babay. Mmmmmmhmmmmm.". When I pulled up, what looked to be a re-purposed Pizza Hut looked exactly as I had hoped. This place was simply fantastic!

The C&W at Niecie's comes with one gigantic waffle and 3 fried chicken wings. The waffle is not your average Waffle House waffle (although I do really like Waffle House, not as much as Bubba Watson, but that is another story for another day). The waffle is topped with dollop of butter the size of a scoop of ice cream, then sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar. There is syrup to be added at your own discretion. The fried chicken wings are served on the bone, for your own deconstruction. The chicken was juicy, the waffle had a perfectly firm outer crust yet fluffy inside. And of course, the only drink that could possibly accompany a meal like this was a sweet tea (made the correct Southern way).

The next stop: Beer Kitchen Beer Kitchen on Urbanspoon was much more of a happy accident. Mrs. Eating Awesome and I went to Beer Kitchen for brunch and I saw it on the menu. I had to have it.

It was very different C&W experience than Niecie's, both holding their own merits. The chicken at Beer Kitchen was a chicken breast (with a small bone, so watch out if you are not expecting it) crusted with cornflakes and a maple-mustard marinade. The BK waffle was a cheddar, bacon, and chive waffle. Much more of a psuedo-hipster style of C&W, but still extraordinary. The BK C&W also comes with maple syrup and chicken gravy. I am not a huge gravy guy, so I stuck with the syrup (although I did give the gravy a small dip, because I believe that you should try everything).

We all knew that BK had amazing burgers, fries, salads, and beer list, but now we know that they also have amazing C&W.

I do know that McCoy's, BK's sister (or perhaps cousin) restaurant, also has a C&W dish that is of similar style to the BK C&W, but a bit different. This is on the list to try, for sure!

On a chicken related note: The new Stroud's, in OP, opens next week (7/2). That really makes me wish that they served waffles to go with their chicken! Can you imagine how absurdly decadent that would be?

Let me know if you have been to any outstanding chicken and waffles places that I need to check out.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Good (K)(C)arma

Recently I stopped by Carma for lunch. In all honesty, I had no idea that Carma even existed (probably like many of you didn't) until it was recommended to me by a friend. And what an excellent reco it was! I loved the window directly into the open kitchen, from the bar! I loved the group of regulars that know everyone in the restaurant, and vice versa (it was kind of like an upscale Cheers!). And most importantly, I loved the food!

First, let me start off by saying that Carma is far from the dive joints that I frequent, in almost every way other than that it is slightly hidden (and the good food too). You can find it in Park Place, just down the street from my guy Aaron Sanchez's place Mestizo. Also that I know very little about what is authentic Italian vs. what is Americanized Italian, so I will not be commenting on the authenticity of the food simply because I have no clue whether it is or is not (I would have to refer to my homies from Little Italy for that). Anywho, enough with the disclaimers, you want to hear about the food.

Carma was initially opened as a second Carmen's Cafe location, but after some changes in operating interests and rebranding Carma was born. The new rotating menu at Carma focuses more on fresher and seasonal ingredients than did the old Carmen's Cafe fixed menu. Part of this is a daily special...

The daily special on the day that I stopped in was the prime rib dip sandwich. It was killer! The sandwich was piled high with tender, juicy, and meaty (without big chunks of fat, all of the fat had been rendered) prime rib on top of a bed of rocket (or arugula for those not hip to the Queen's English). The au jus was not too shabby, but quite frankly, you did not need it. The bread was not dry and the meat provided plenty of juice. The Greek salad on the side was a nice touch with the feta, onions, and spring greens.

After spending a couple minutes talking to Chef Leo about how much I loved the sandwich, he agreed to bring me out a few samples of other menu items. When he said "a couple", I thought he meant "a couple", here is what I was in store for:

Chef brought out two flatbreads, a sharp turn from Carmen's menu, Sweet & Spicy Shrimp and Margherita flatbreads. The S&S shrimp was just that, sweet and spicy: sweet chili sauce, feta, more rocket, shrimp (duh), and a lemon vinaigrette. The Margherita is your traditional Margherita, made with fresh mozzarella, roma tomatoes, fresh basil, and a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Both of which were amazing and I would by lying to you if I told you that I could pick a favorite; and this is just the tip of the flatbread iceberg.

Salads do not stop at side dishes to delicious prime rib sandos! Chef Leo brought me out two salads that were packed with flavour: The quinoa salad (pictured to the right) and the kale salad. The vinegar-y, citrus-y quinoa salad normally comes with a steak or salmon topper, but Chef sent it out with shrimp for me (something he will do for you too). This went great with the pickled onions, feta, spinach, and cucumbers. The kale salad, which is topped with a champagne vinaigrette that also has a vinegar/citrus hint, brings the people what they want: kale! Kale is so in right now, people are making everything out of kale. This kale is complimented with red onions, avocado, and pine nuts. These salads are perfect for the summer!

Once upon a time, I was a huge fat kid and loved fettuccine alfredo (or "mac and cheese for grownups" as Mitch Hedberg called it, and what I thought of as Italian). Once upon a time that was a few years after the previous time, I had grown to know real food and left my previous ways behind. In the second time, I had foolishly sworn off Italian restaurants because I believed that they were all just noodles in random sauces. That was until a good friend of mine showed me the light. He told me to not order pasta at Italian restaurants, but to order the entrees instead. This section is dedicated to this idea that I encourage you all to try as well (however Carma does make their pasta fresh every day).

When Chef brought me out some entrees, I was glad that they subscribed to the above theory! The steak Santana (pictured to the right and named for Chef Leo) comes topped with caramelized onions in a reduced balsamic vinaigrette and accompanied with potatoes au gratin and a seasonal vegetable (which happened to be asparagus the day that I visited). Other entrees that I got to sample were the blackened salmon on a bed of mixed vegetables and Carma's take on chicken spiedinis (made famous by another local spot: Garozzo's). All three were pretty good, but I have to give the championship belt to the chicken spiedinis.

As if all of the things that I mentioned had not left me stuffed enough (and yes I ate, not just sampled, all of them in one sitting), I was not allowed to leave without trying dessert! The New York style cheesecake and Pistachio torte are both made in house and pictured to the right. While the cheese cake was very good, the pistachio torte stole my heart! It was fantastic! I actually took a whole serving of it to-go!

When I was at Carma, they were working on an adjacent space where they were going to do deli-style grab and go New York style pizza (among other things, similar to the prime rib sandwich), for lunch. If you don't have the time to dedicate to a sit down lunch, this is a perfect option for you.

After all of that, there is only one thing left to say: go check them out!

Carma on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 6, 2014

National Donut Day

Happy National Donut Day, all! Lamar's will be giving away one free glazed to each customer to celebrate. However, I will be celebrating the occasion at an awesome local donut shop downtown, Joe's Downtown Donuts.

Joe's is a fairly new addition to Downtown KC. They are located adjacent to Grand Slam Liquors and offer up an entire line of handmade donuts, from old family recipes. You name it, they have it (and probably a super-sized version of it).

At Joe's, you will not find crazy hipster-esque donuts made with beer and other things that nouveaux donuts are made with. You will however find amazingly fresh donuts, at honest working-man prices. Glazed, cake, German chocolate, old-fashion, long johns (filled w various fillings or unfilled), bear claws, cinnamon rolls the size of your face, twists the size of your forearm, are just a few of the items that you will find in the case below. With rotating options that vary with the midwestern weather and even chocolate glazed donuts (Yes, you heard that right, chocolate glazed. Not glazed that has been iced with chocolate, but chocolate glazed.) you will find something to please anyone in your office at Joe's (if you are the kind of person that is nice and takes donuts to coworkers, or favorite food bloggers).

If you cannot make it to Joe's on this lovely National Donut Day, here are some other places around town that offer freshly made donuts: Providence New American Kitchen (see the desert menu), Q39 (see dessert menu), Fluffy Fresh, and Donut King.

Side note: I have yet to have the Tank 7 donuts at Ale House, partially because I have a hard time believing that something like that could be better than the sum of it's parts (my requirement for things made with beer). Let me know if I am missing out though.

This donut is for you!

P.S. Tweet me your donut pictures today for a RT.

Joe’s Downtown Donuts & Coffee on Urbanspoon