This waffle and breakfast spot located in the Olde Towne East Food Hub will be the next big stir.
If you’re an actual human you, like myself, will have random undeniable cravings for chicken and waffles. It’s just a regular occurrence that happens periodically in life, like tax season or Tim Burton movies starring Johnny Depp (I’m not entirely sure he knows any other actors).
Now I know there are some of you out there that just plain old don’t go for the poultry breakfast pairing but the sad reality is that you’re wrong and you should feel bad. Never the less, the breakfast dish has been an American staple since just about the Reconstruction Era.
I was in the midst of one such chicken and waffle craving when I remembered the group share restaurant not so far from my house hosts a brunch business earlier in the day. Started in 2016 by Gayle Troy and her husband Eric, What the Waffle was created to provide a quick twist on traditional breakfast foods.
Each dish is served as a sandwich, using light and fluffy Belgian waffles as the bread holding it together. All of their breakfast combinations are made with detailed care. From the “Bacon Belgian” with bits of meaty bacon stirred into the batter, to the “Sausage, Egg, and Cheddar Waffle” with buttermilk waffles made from scratch, each sandwich is made with a tenderness and passion that goes missing in a lot of larger scale breakfast restaurants.
The kindness and love of the place was apparent from the first step through the door but what I hadn’t realized was that the business regularly donates to young women who are aging out of foster care.
Gayle was all smiles as she brought my food out to me personally, all wrapped up and ready to go. She also gave me a great big hug before sending me on my way.
I was excited to get the goods home and dive into it. I went with the Chicken and Waffle Sandwich (because of course) and the Shrimp and Grits bowl. As soon as I opened it up I was hit by a waft of steam and aroma. The grits had a heavy, savory, scent that felt like it hung in the air, unwrapping and unfolding into newer, more tangy smells.
The waffles were soft with just a bit of bounce to them. You could tell they were freshly made with in house ingredients. And the chicken was a light and crispy tender. A lot of places use a heavier meat that, while good, sits too heavy in the belly for the first meal of the day. This chicken was wonderfully fried and meaty, but it didn’t have that overly greased weight to it.
Still, the surprise winner here was definitely the shrimp and grits. Much like how its aroma kept unfolding into something salty and spicy, its flavor rolled and changed with it. You pick up the sausage, then the bacon, then the shrimp, and all the while the grits absorb and meld with all those flavors, keeping each one from competing with the other.
If you ever find yourself on the near east side of town, be sure to head into What the Waffle and give them a try. Heck, even if you don’t find yourself anywhere near it, go anyway. Not only are you not going to regret it, it will also be for a pretty great cause. You can catch them in the Food Hub on 1117 Oak Street from Tuesday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and next week starts their new Sunday brunch. For more information check out their website, here.