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
“No one’s going to hand you your dream project.” – Grace Bonney at #wmcfest
— Jana Kinsman (@janakinsman) August 16, 2014
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.