Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Crunchy Air

To enter Brown Sugar Kitchen is to give yourself over to indulgence. Yes, they have a fruit bowl, but that's not what you're going to eat. (And quite frankly I recommend against it as it's pretty weak…) Maybe somebody orders the granola, but anyone that dedicated to their health these days is probably also gluten and refined sugar free, so probably not. So you might as well just go for some Atkins-esque fried chicken. As Doug points out however, waffles aren't Atkins, and they are really a must-have.

To back up, Brown Sugar Kitchen is an outpost of gourmet southern food in a food desert in West Oakland. We stumbled upon it when we were shopping for tile and countertops at nearby Granite Expo, wondering why there were people waiting outside this tiny, brown, triangular building that looked like a railroad depot or something. The area is desolate, but somehow at this restaurant there was a 25 minute wait for brunch.
We soon learned that this place was a little famous. And after eating there, we learned why.

To me, there's nothing better on the menu then their waffles. ($9, I think.)Yeast raised, truly light as air, crisp with an additional layer of crunch texture from cornmeal, the waffles are almost savory, until you slather it with their brown sugar butter and apple cider syrup. My recommendation: ask for the butter on the side so it doesn't come already melting and sogging up your waffles.

The apple cider vinegar is house-made, fruity, tangy and buttery, but of course syrupy sweet.  It doesn't have maple syrup in it, I think it's just a reduced apple cider, maybe with some added sugar and butter. (I wonder if I could cheat and make this home using frozen apple juice concentrate.) I tried to pace myself, but you really need to just pour it in and suffer the consequences.

And now I am suffering consequences. You know how when you eat Halloween candy for breakfast and then you feel sick? Yeah, that's how I feel now.

To break up the onslaught of sweet, I mixed in bites of Doug's grits. ($5) They kept insulting the grits by calling it a "side" of grits because he opted out of the poached eggs on top. But trust me, on their own, these grits are practically a meal. There are creamy, and almost smooth, cooked down so that they grit-tiness of grits is almost completely dissolved. The prominent flavor is of sharp cheddar, floating on butter. I would say it's a bowl of the South, but when I was in the South it's the grits never tasted like this.

We are weekday vegetarians so we didn't get the fried chicken, ham, sausage, or barbecued shrimp. But I'm previous trips we did get the fried chicken and I remember it to be crisp, juicy, not greasy, and a worthy partner to the waffle. And maybe if I had eaten it today, I wouldn't have that sugar sick feeling that I have now.
Five dollars for this bowl of fruit. Kind of a rip.

Service was just slow enough that you started wondering where they were, when they showed up. For a not-so-busy Tuesday morning, I was a little surprised. But everyone was very pleasant and nice, and it was cool to see the owner, Tonya Holland, decorating the place with Mardi Gras beads.

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