Posts Tagged ‘Fried Chicken’

Gussie’s Chicken and Waffles

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010
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I admit it – I eat at Gussie’s Chicken and Waffles a lot more than I should. How can I not? They are quite literally out the front door of my apartment complex. And I have this thing for fried chicken livers.

Somewhat dark inside, I often have to ask to have extra lights turned on and it worries me that they might be trying to keep costs down by having the lights as dim as they are. And service can definitely be hit or miss. No, that is not true. It is usually a miss in that I can’t remember a time when I haven’t had to ask two or three times for something I have ordered; be it remoulade for the chicken livers (since it comes with gravy), a glass of milk, or simply water

What is the appeal? For us die-hard groupies who care little for our health or cholesterol, it is – of course – crisp fried chicken and homemade waffles. Are either exceptional and worth going out of the way for? Probably not. But both have some things going for them. With the waffles, it is their house made brown sugar syrup. Maple is of course available but I much prefer the brown sugar syrup for some reason. Many people pour the syrup over the fried chicken as well, but I am a purist, preferring to consume them separately.

They also have a variety of other waffle flavors available, including sweet potato, cornmeal, and more, but I admit I haven’t gotten beyond the plain ole standard round, thin crispy waffle. Not a thick, fluffy Belgian waffle – nope, these are the thinner versions. And the fried chicken? I like the spicing and the crunch of the coating, but tend to find their white meat pieces dryer and less enticing as the wings or thighs.

There are a number of side dishes available, some worth trying and others worth avoiding. Having a sweet tooth, I don’t necessarily mind that the candied yams are soft and suspended with cinnamon-spiced goo that would indicate they are from a can. I grew up on those canned yams so there is some ancestral memory calling to me, I’m sure., which makes them taste like they should – soft to the tooth and unctuous.

The Mac-N-Cheese is one of the most regrettable and forgettable ever conceived. Dry and pasty, one taste was more than sufficient. I know many that adore their mashed potatoes and gravy and I’m not sure why. Adequate enough, the gravy itself is forgettable in its thick, gloppy nature. Red beans and rice are similarly thick and pasty, but surprisingly I enjoyed their flavor more than I expected to.

I am a huge sucker for sweet potato fries and here Gussie’s does not disappoint. A large bowl would make a happy meal for me in a carb frenzy of crunchy ecstasy. And then there are those chicken livers. Large and delightfully spiced, these are not over-battered to hide the desired mealy texture of the liver and are served topped with thinly sliced, fried onion rings. Gravy is served on the side but again, I recommend asking for their remoulade as the dipping condiment. This is perfection in a comfort food, offal sort of way.

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Naked Lunch

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

I am extremely grateful to BFF (Best Foodie Friend) Lisa for rescuing me today for lunch. Working from home, I tend to get lazy about my daytime meals and have exhausted every local Fillmore and Japantown eatery several dozen times over. I am ashamed to say that I don’t think enough outside my local neighborhood and while debating between the $10 Bento Box and the La Boulange Niçoise salad, Lisa called and suggested a jaunt to North Beach to try the much-lauded Naked Lunch. With a menu that changes on a daily basis, Naked Lunch is the brainstorm of chef Ian Begg (SF Chron Rising Chef 2008), formerly of Café Majestic.

Both lunch and dinner menus are available but operating out of the adjacent Enrico’s Sidewalk Café, dining in-house is only possible for lunch while dinner is take-out. While waiting for our order, we enjoyed a bag of 4505 Chicharonnes, a great balance of salt and sugar with a hint of chili powder. We also shared a Honey Tangerine Cooler.

The staff was really great; apologizing at the lateness of our ordered salad by offering an amuse of Roasted Tomato Soup with a chive garnish. This soup must have been half butter for its richness. We were so happy with the chicharonnes, it didn’t matter that our salad was going to take a little time.

What I love about eating with Lisa is that we share everything we order and we have very consistent tastes; whenever I suggest a selection of courses it invariably is exactly what she would order and vice-versa. Two sandwiches which we decided to share was the Piquillo Pepper and Manchego Sandwich garnished with Spinach, Sweet Onion, Balsamic, and Herbs. Ripping open the paper and pulling apart the warm, crunchy bread displayed an almost erotic stringiness of melted manchego. This was one of those Perfect Sandwiches; just enough caramelized onions, not too much spinach to be bitter, and juicy bright peppers.

Regrettably, we arrived too late to order the Duck Prosciutto and Foie Gras sandwich with Black Truffle salt, but the Tuesday special of a Fulton Valley Farms Fried Chicken Sandwich with Green Garlic Aïoli, Buttermilk Coleslaw, on Pain de Mie was an ample condolence. Just the look of the bun itself was sufficient to know we had a treat before us; golden, warm, and spongy, this encompassed a supreme example of fried chicken. Here the meat was tender and intensely moist with a very light breading which provided a tender bite, complementing the creamy slaw. So many fried chicken sandwiches are so pervasive with breading, while this was far from the case here.

Our salad did arrive several bites into our sandwiches and while we were already getting full and knew we didn’t need the extra food, were gratified at its simplistic elegance; a Spring Asparagus salad with Wild Arugula, Manchego, Preserved Lemon, and Chives. Any apologies that had been offered were entirely unnecessary and this simple preparation of clean ingredients were well worth the wait.

The best part about all of this? The price tab; at $28, we had a truly astonishing lunch with an incredible bargain to boot. The sandwiches were a mere $8.00 each, the salad was $6.00. $3.00 each for beverage and fried pork skins rounded out the tab and saddened me that I don’t live closer or that going for the evening take-out menu is not more convenient.
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