Ahhh...chicken and waffles--it's become a staple here at a number of Bay Area restaurants--and it's done to varying degrees of good to ehh. I won't say I'm the biggest fan of the trend, I mean I like a good fried chicken and I like a good waffle, but I not necessarily together. For me I have to be in a particular mood to chow down on them and today is one of those days. I decided to go off the beaten track for it as it were and head out to one of the original purveyors of the trend Auntie April's (no website but lots of reviews around).
It's really just a short ride to the Bayview District on the T Muni line. An unassuming place with what I like to call old school cafeteria interior. Not a bad thing, it reminds me of a lot of small joints you see on the side of the road in the South--fancy insides don't always mean spectacular eats, a lot comes down to who is doing the cooking and how good they are at it. I'd heard about this place before but just never got out here. What I'd heard about was their chicken and waffles and how it was one of the best of the area so with my mind set on that I ordered it along with a side of grits and collard greens.
The place wasn't empty when I got there so I was able to pleasantly chat with the server and and get my order in before a number of people just kind of showed up. I got to choose what pieces of chicken I wanted and was in the mood for legs and got the 2 piece and waffle. The menu says they charge for extra butter, which I think is a crime, but the server just brought me some no charge, very nice. It did take a bit extra to get the dish but they cooked it to order so it came out hot, crispy and steaming which allowed all the butter to seep through the nooks and valleys of the waffle. Chicken was crisp, tender, juicy and crunchy. The waffle was golden brown on the outside and soft inside and wasn't too sweet of a batter. It really does help to have things made to order. The grits were the right consistency, for me, not too runny, not too thick. They weren't really seasoned that much which I'm okay with as I like to add lots of butter, sugar and black pepper on my own, so as far as cooked right, these are some of the better ones in town. The collard greens though were a no go. There was something off about them. Yes it had bits of bacon in them but that didn't help, there was some weird aftertaste going on with them that I couldn't pin down. I even asked for some vinegar to put on them hoping to drown it out or make them taste better but they were just too bitter to enjoy or finish. Too bad.
In theory these are pretty simple dishes that don't need lots of extras and if you can follow recipes they should be easy to do. Sometimes though it's these simple dishes that places tend to f-up as it were. At Auntie April's 3 of my 4 foods were basic and done well and tasty. With that I like them well enough to say you should try them out. Now that being said things you should keep in mind--the place is like a greasy spoon atmosphere and if that turns you off don't go. Plus, and saying this with all delicacy, the neighborhood at times can be sketchy, not Tenderloin at night, but still awareness of your surroundings is always a good thing. I've been around (the world) to say the least and I felt fine on my Saturday lunch time visit. Hopefully it won't stop you from giving the place a chance. The staff are good folks serving up down home simple fare that won't set you back an arm and leg. Now I just need to being in the food mood to go back and try their fish and grits breakfast--it looked good.