Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Waffling back and forth

Isn’t there something delicious about the idea of chicken and waffles? Redolent of delicious baked goods, pure maple syrup, perfectly spiced and crisped and tender chicken…but that’s just the idea. In practice, chicken and waffles are a much drier affair. From Harlem to the stands of the Pennsylvania Dutch, I’ve always been disappointed with the results. Doughy waffles, overfried chicken with the bones left in, and the most dreadful woe of woes, fake maple syrup. But I keep wishing and hoping, finding myself lured into ordering this most promisingly decadent of dishes from brunch menus.

So thank goodness I’ve found Astoria’s Queens Comfort. I hope you will not think less of me if I tell you I first heard of the restaurant because they serve Robicellis’ delicious cupcakes. I took the Queens-resident R.—’s there a couple weeks ago for dinner and really enjoyed the crispy pork with my namesake grits, as well as the couple of blueberry sourcream biscuits we all split and the bubbly soda Iron Brew (not to be confused with Irn-Bru). So imagine my joy to find that brunch tasted even better. Raving to C.—, my gracious companion in the multiborough trek, I declared that it was the best brunch I’ve ever tasted. Half a week out, I still believe it. In any event, it embodied all of my chickeny, wafflish dreams.

In an unexpectedly successful move, QC sandwiches the chicken in Eggo waffles. Rather than detracting from my expectation of homemade goodness, I found that the lighter, crispier nature of Eggos enhanced the experience, thin enough to actually eat with a bite of chicken, but still able to soak up the melting maple butter (maple butter!!) without collapsing into a soggy mess. A large piece of fried chicken comprises the sandwich meat (though good luck eating this maple-dripping concoction with your hands), gently crispy, not overdone, full of fresh white meat. And underneath the chicken was the true genius of the thing.

You might call me a heretic for asking, but aren’t some brunch foods just too sweet? French toast buried in syrup, compote, and powdered sugar. Pancakes drowning in chocolate chips, waffles awash in fresh fruit. In dazzling contrast, enter the light note of—that’s right—Tabasco sauce undercutting the sweetness of the waffles, mixing with the maple butter for a whole new sensation. It made me want to run to the kitchen and start feverishly experimenting with sweet and spicy concoctions of my own.

I’ll say that the dish wasn’t as much of a gut bomb as I expected, but I have to admit I didn’t eat the whole thing, delicious as it was. There was plenty to share with C.—, even for a greedy foodie such as me. I had been afraid that the $8 price meant it would be a tiny delicate sandwich, but I was gloriously proven wrong. My only disappointment with QC is that it's located so far away from my cozy Brooklyn home. Then again, the weather is ripe for exploring and I think it's time to learn more about Queens, don't you?

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