The first time I ever heard of chicken and waffles coming together in one bite was on MTV in 1993. In a less than one-minute clip, Lenny Kravitz took Cindy Crawford to Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles in Los Angeles and demonstrated to the supermodel the glorious combination of fried chicken, waffles, butter and syrup. As a highly impressionable—and hungry—13-year-old, that footage stuck with me far more than any of Kravitz’s music or Crawford’s cat-walking.
Roscoe’s founder Herb Hudson was a New York expat who opened his soul food chain on the left coast in 1976 after soaking up inspiration from his Harlem surroundings, where legend has it the dish was invented in the 1930s by Joe Wells, the owner of Well’s Supper Club. Long Island’s love affair with chicken and waffles has been a bit of a slow burn, with only a handful of restaurants in Nassau County offering the dish. Suffolk fares a bit better, but not by much—and neither have embraced chicken and waffles as much as outer borough dining destination Brooklyn.
For those who satisfy the crave on Long Island, we salute you. Restaurants serving authentic chicken and waffles—with the chicken on the bone—include LL Dent (221 Old Country Rd., Carle Place), Pretty Toni’s Cafe (759 W. Merrick Rd., Valley Stream), The Crispy Pig (243 Glen Cove Ave., Sea Cliff), Swingbellys BBQ (909 W. Beech St., Long Beach) and this author’s personal favorite, Biscuits & Barbeque (106 East 2nd St., Mineola).
Biscuits & Barbeque’s Dixie Southern Fried Chicken & Waffles is about as authentic as it gets in Nassau. The dish features waffles that are somehow both crisp and fluffy, with buttermilk-marinated fried chicken, maple syrup and two kinds of butter—raspberry and honey. With both butters spread across the waffles, the seasoned eater pours syrup across the entire plate, chicken included. The best bites include everything—waffle, chicken, butter and syrup, with perhaps a touch of hot sauce interspersed here and there. Biscuits offers two pieces of fried chicken—white or dark meat—with each order, but diners have the option of adding an extra breast, wing, leg or thigh.
It is a combination that shouldn’t work, but it does. The crunchy, juicy and succulent fried chicken marries perfectly with the waffles’ willingness to absorb butter and syrup, inventing a dish that is breakfast, lunch and dinner at once. At Biscuits, the heavenly combination of salty, sweet, crunchy, sticky and fluffy remains on the palate and the mind hours after the meal is long gone.
Eventually, chicken and waffles will gain in popularity in Nassau County and the dish will be found in more and more restaurants. Until then, your best bet for consistently sublime chicken and waffles in Biscuits & Barbeque. And to Lenny Kravitz and Cindy Crawford, a long overdue “thank you.”