Monday, March 1, 2010

Wait, Wait....They Have Chicken...AND Waffles?

I've been living in LA for nearly 4 years now (wow it seems like less than that), and I have come to realize that Angelenos are suckers for a fad. All it takes is a single celebrity to stop into a Gravy Shop, and suddenly there's a knockoff gravy shop on every corner and inside of every strip mall (note to self - invent a Gravy Shop). I have seen this happen with frozen yogurt, cupcakes, milkshakes, and it appears to be happening again with popcorn (at least according to today's Tasting Table newsletter). My point is this - most of the things that people in LA consider to be landmarks of the culinary world are wildly over-rated.

As a hot dog aficionado, I have been told my whole life that Pink's is the end-all, be-all of LA hot dog joints. I couldn't wait to try it out. I went at 2 in the afternoon and the line was down the block . I've come to understand that this is common at Pink's. People see people in line and assume that it must be the place to be. I waited far too long for the food I got. The hot dog was ok, but not the most flavorful thing I've eaten (also a little over-soggy, it lacked the real snap I expect from a quality dog). The chili was just terrible. Off hand, I can name 3 hot dog places in LA that are miles ahead of Pink's (Skooby's, Carney's, and The Stand for starters). But it's still the place that everyone assumes is the best because it's the most famous. I had a similar experience with Knott's Berry Farm fried chicken. All hype, no flavor (or texture or color or anything worth eating).

That being said, I have found an LA institution that is every bit as delicious as its reputation would suggest: Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles. I had a lunch there on Friday that was as decadent and satisfying as any I've had. Now, I'm on record (maybe not at this blog, but elsewhere) as being no great fan of Southern food. Not everything should be fried, and frying is not an excuse for skipping seasonings and flavor. Thankfully, Roscoe's doesn't fall into this category. Chicken is always good fried, and Roscoe's has done it as well as any I have had. I had a quarter chicken smothered in gravy (note to self, try to license this gravy for my shop) and never wanted it to end. The meat was juicy and tender, the breading was flavorful, and then there was the fat. Dear lord. If you find eating fat disgusting, you are missing out food. You should probably just stop eating. I could have eaten the breaded and fried fat from this chicken like candy.

And if that wasn't enough, as you can see above, it comes with waffles. At least, it does if you order them. And at a place called Roscoe's Chicken of Waffles, why would you order anything but chicken and waffles? I'm also on record as being anti-Belgian waffles. Nothing against the people of Belgium, but their waffles are too crunchy and awkwardly shaped. I like a nice, thin, round classic waffle. Waffle House does it as well as anyone can, but unfortunately they're not out here. Roscoe's comes pretty close. The flavor was delightful, slathered in butter and maple syrup, naturally. They were maybe a hair undercooked, but it's hard to complain about something so smooth and doughy.

So, yes, Roscoe's was worth the trip. The atmosphere was light and familial and the food was top notch (even if it did sit like a lead weight in my gut). Yes, it was probably about a billion calories, but I'm training for a marathon, I can afford it. It was delightful and I can't wait to go back. Now, I'm off to research copyright law as it pertains to gravy.