Like a beacon in the night, a red chicken with “HOT” shines along Washington Avenue to welcome passersby to The Cookshack, which makes fried chicken and ribs and takes pride doing those simple things well.
With a plethora of restaurants in the area serving chicken and waffles, I’ve been curious about which ones are worth trying. And The Cookshack’s rendition definitely makes my list.
The chicken is served at five different spice levels ranging from not hot, mild, medium, Texas hot and AMF, or “adios my friend.”
I went with medium heat in order to have a relatively neutral palate for an interesting and varied selection of sauces, which made each bite a distinct experience. The chicken still had plenty of zip on its own, and I liked that it had a crispy breading, but was still moist and juicy on the inside.
With my meal ($12.99), I ordered the sweet heat, barbecue sauce and Cookshack Sauce (a take on the classic Southern “Comeback” sauce with Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, mayonnaise, garlic powder, horseradish and lime.
I liked the sweet heat sauce, but preferred the punchy and acidic taste of the Cookshack sauce. I found the barbecue sauce to be far too thick and sugary for my palate.
In keeping with the theme of blending spicy and savory elements with sweet ones, a rotund and perfectly symmetrical waffle dusted with powdered sugar served as the canvas upon which the fried chicken could rest and absorb a splashing of syrup.
This is, in my view, the quintessential way to eat chicken and waffles, by slicing up small pieces of each and eating them together in a single mouthful.
I also stumbled upon something small that was nonetheless noteworthy: a soft slice of white bread accompanied by a spoonful of cinnamon sugar butter that felt it was giving my tastebuds a warm embrace.
A side of mac and cheese ($2.99) was a creamy and gooey alternative that helped to complete a well-rounded meal.