Friday, February 7, 2013.
From the first time I heard about it, I have not been able to get my head around the idea of fried chicken and waffles. That food phenomenon went viral across America about twenty years ago, although articles written about it usually point to the 1930s and 1940s as the beginning of its popularity. Baltimore and Harlem are the most likely roots, growing in the fertile tradition of soul food. Of course, both waffles and fried chicken have been around a long time, and it’s almost a certainty that somebody put them together at some point even in colonial times.
None of that makes it any more interesting to my palate. When I learned that the dish is usually served with syrup on both the chicken and the waffles, my curiosity waned further.
But sooner or later I had to try the dish, to make sure I wasn’t missing something. Today was the day, as I made my fourth stop at the Legacy Grill in Metairie, gathering material for a review I will write next week.
Somehow I had it in my mind that the chicken half of this would be a half chicken, bones and all. Not so. Legacy’s version is more along the lines of chicken fingers. Which, I later learned, is the more common way of serving chicken and waffles in most establishments. But they do serve at least two different versions of a bone-in chicken, and I almost ditched and went for the roasted version.
And now, I wish I had. The chicken was dry, the waffles mediocre, and the syrup a bad idea, tradition or no.
I started thinking about how such a dish could have become popular, even given the wide range of tastes we humans rightfully have. Here’s my theory. Americans like to eat both fried chicken and waffles individually. But we don’t like either one of them enough for waffles or fried chicken to reach the level of hamburgers, steak, pizza, or even spaghetti with red sauce. But if you have both fried chicken and waffles on one plate, it reaches critical mass, and people get excited.
Well, some people do. Not me. I like both dishes enough to go to the substantial trouble of making them at home. But you’ll never see them on the same table at the same time in my house.
I hope a lot of people use the comment feature of our website to give me more perspectives on this.
This was the least interesting meal I’ve had at Legacy. It began with an order of chips and queso dip, neither part of which showed any distinction. I followed that with corn and crab bisque, which was pretty good.
I asked for a side order of kettle chips with the chicken. (And waffles.) Are they fresh-cut and fried in house? I asked. The server affirmed that they were. How long since the chips were fried? (It was late afternoon, a slow time for this or any restaurant.) She said that the current batch had been fried about an hour ago. When would the next batch come out? No time soon, the kitchen said. I got them anyway. Nothing much there. Why would a restaurant fry its own chips if it doesn’t do so to order?
I have been pulling for Legacy Kitchen to be good. The place is comfortable, the service friendly, and the location handy. Some of the food has been better than I expected–the turtle soup and the duck chili, most notably. But not enough of it.
And the music is still way too loud. But if you like it, you can get a playlist of the music playing at Legacy Kitchen on your own computer, at this web page. That’s a first, as far as I know.