Monthly Archives: August 2014

Aw Yeah Chicken and Waffles!

I was driving along Dempster St. in Evanston this afternoon when I noticed Chicago’s Home of Chicken and Waffles. Of course I pulled over immediately and allowed myself in. It turns out I’ve been to this franchise before, on S. King Drive in Bronzeville, but I didn’t figure out that it was the same operation until I spoke with the manager during my meal. I recall my previous visit fondly, but I don’t particularly recall the chicken. Today’s experience was about the same.

The food was not at all bad, and the chicken was plenty tasty, but it was short of spectacular. I’ve had far better chicken at Harold’s – but I’ve had far worse at Harold’s, too. I’ll have to do a Harold’s round-up some other time. The chicken at Chicago’s was crispy if a little bland, and I felt I could do a better job at home without really trying too hard. I also started figuring that I could do a gluten free fried chicken that would knock the socks off the plate I had this evening, and that would be something worth staying home for.

I do have to make mention of the various sides that I ordered. The collards, corn bread, sweet potatoes, and mac and cheese were all delicious, and just short of perfection. No complaints there. Whatever Chicago’s lacks in flavor they more than made up for in service. My server and a few additional employees, one of them probably the manager, checked in with me several times during my meal, but never to the point where I felt hassled. The following tweet came across my phone’s screen while I was dining

and I tweeted back that I’d like to open a farm to table soul food restaurant on the south side. I asked Mr. Manager Man how many pounds of collards he supposed his restaurant went through in a year, and he did some quick math on a napkin and guesstimated they went through a ton. I did some more internet mojo and figured that I’d need at least an acre just to supply my soul food joint with collard greens. Time to start looking for real estate.

Whether or not I follow through on my south side dreams, I appreciated that the manager took even a moment to give my question some serious thought, rather than just making up some random number. My server was completely polite and helpful throughout my meal, and I even shared a few comments with some of the other patrons on my way out of the restaurant. It was hardly crowded when I arrived, but the dinner rush was starting to make its way in as I left.

Overall, my experience was greater than the sum of the chicken parts I gobbled down. I probably won’t go out of my way to go back to Chicago’s Home of Chicken and Waffles, but I’ll certainly keep it in mind. I’m pretty frequently heading down King Drive, so there’s a fair chance I’ll visit that location again.

Where to begin?

It’s been a heady few weeks, or more even. I attended the Restoration Ag “short course” with Mark Shepard in July, which is worthy of at least four blog posts. Immediately upon returning from that trip, I started a “micro farm” on a community garden plot, and last week I hooked up with a carpenter who’s supplying chicken coops to Chicago residents, among other projects. Sat in on a beginning farm course with Extension, applied for a 2015 plot, and met with a produce buyer. Had many inspiring conversations with a number of permies and gardeners, both in the flesh and online. This year’s American Community Garden Conference is taking place in Shikaakwa, Illinois right this very now, and we hosted the “pre-conference” at KAM Isaiah Israel on Thursday, which was beautiful. The panel discussion was incredible. I’m wondering if I should post a transcript. Today I led a garden tour through Humboldt Park, where I’ve tended to a number of community gardens over the past decade, and it was almost a tearjerker to hear so many gardeners from near and far express their appreciation for efforts that I’ve been a part of. Oh, and sometime in June I started in as the Farm Manager for KAMII, which is just an incredible project to be involved with. I feel so grateful, and fortunate, to be doing what I am doing, and I hope to find the time to put those feelings into words. Work is starting to come online, the tomatoes are ripening on the vine, and I’m a very busy beaver these days, but pretty soon I’ll manage to put some copy together explaining how I feel about it all. For now at least I managed to get another paragraph posted. Sometimes that’s all I’ll have time for.