Friday, January 3, 2014

Dame's Chicken and Waffles: Worth the Wait?

At least on Saturdays they're slammed like it's an open house at Wonka's Chocolate Factory. At 11:30 they were full and not taking names till 2 PM, at which point you could come back to the place to put your name on the list for Shiva knows how long later. Actually in our case it was thirty minutes later. Called-in or internet-made reservations have to be at least 24 hours in advance.



The Buff Brahma - $14.25 - You could choose between two chicken breasts and four wings (or one breast and two wings). We ordered the wings because dark meat is so much better than white, but we received two breasts instead. After taking our order and setting our plates down thirty minutes later, we never saw our waiter again until he brought us the check fifteen minutes after we 'd finished eating. Maybe this sort of service is part of why it's so hard to get a table. Thus, we never got a chance to tell him he'd gotten our order wrong. It was a crying shame because the wings we spied on others' plates looked outstanding. Anyway the whiskey creme sauce was good; the peach apricot was less fruity than you'd think but was still nice. The waffles were kind of limp and almost soggy rather than crispy and golden on the outside.


The Buff Brahma (as do several of the chickens and waffle options) comes with a side, and we chose these spicy (crushed red pepper) greens (collards).

While you're waiting in breathless anticipation, you can draw turkeys and play hangman on the table, very important with waits like you get here.

For the Barnyard Honcho ($13.75) we chose the maple-pecan schmear, which was the best of the three we tried. This one was also much better because it came with a chicken thigh, the best of all chicken options in almost all situations. This waffle was a bit better cooked too, slightly crispy.

 The eggs and grits that came with it showed up a few minutes later, and, though we ordered them over easy, one was completely over hard. Again, even if we'd wanted to bother our waiter about it, he ignored us completely until he came for payment.

This is among a fairly long list of restaurants I choose to neither "like" nor "dislike" on Urbanspoon because I like to think that on a different day or time or with a different waiter I would've had a better experience, as many reviewers have. Then again, there are a lot of bloggers and reviewers who had the exact same experience or worse. I feel like what this place really needs is some healthy competition from another chicken and waffles purveyor. There's clearly a market for it in Durham.

Update: We came back a year later on a Friday at 11:45, and there was a 15-30 minute wait for a table but plenty of bar seating. This time, the bartender/server was as nice as could be.

Red Crusted Rose Comb: A leg and thigh with candied pecans and a fun strawberry schmear, this time on a waffle that wasn't soggy at all

I ordered a sweet potato waffle with wings and the maple pecan schmear (you can create your own combo), but I quickly came to the conclusion that they'd given me a regular (non-soggy) waffle.

The bartender was very nice about it and insisted on bringing me an actual sweet potato waffle, which was deliciously spiced and softer (in a doughy, non-soggy way), which I love. 


So now I officially like this place. I don't love it, but it's nothing personal. It's just not really what I call Southern fried chicken. It's not that crispy crunchy goodness. Are they baking it? Also there's some silly Italian seasoning on it that's okay but doesn't really blend with all the sweet flavors from the waffle and schmear situations. 

Dame's Chicken & Waffles on Urbanspoon