100 Favorite Dishes 2013: No. 96 Chicken and Waffles at Adair Kitchen

This year, leading up to our annual Menu of Menus issue, Kaitlin Steinberg counts down her 100 favorite dishes as she eats her way through Houston. Just as Katharine Shilcutt did before her, and Robb Walsh before that, Kaitlin will eat and learn as she goes, compiling a list of the 100 dishes she thinks are the most awesome, most creative and, of course, most delicious in Houston. It's a list of her personal favorites, things she thinks any visitor or Houstonian ought to try at least once and dishes that seem particularly indicative of the ever-changing Houston food-scape. It's a list to drool over.

I found myself exploring the Galleria area earlier in the week and decided to stop by Adair Kitchen for dinner. I went because I'd heard that their BYOS (Build Your Own Salad) is a great healthy dinner option, and with all the heavy eating I do throughout the week, it seemed like a good idea.

And then I saw chicken and waffles on the menu. And I never turn down a good plate of chicken and waffles. The salad would have to wait.

Chicken and waffles is a simple dish, but it's often difficult to get just right. The waffle must be fluffy, not chewy. The batter on the chicken must be slightly spicy to offset the sweet waffle, and both must be served with real maple syrup. None of that fake syrup sugar crap.

At Adair Kitchen, they get it just right. The huge Belgian waffle is crisp and golden brown on the outside and light and airy on the inside. It has deep squares that hold a generous amount of real maple syrup and catch little bits of batter that fall off the chicken. The batter is crunchy and peppery with just the right amount of salt and heat to complement the sweetness of the syrup and powdered sugar on the waffle, and the chicken inside is tender and juicy.

The pair is best enjoyed when speared onto a fork together; a bite of chicken and waffle and pepper and syrup working together in perfect harmony. And it's become so popular, it's available for both breakfast and dinner (though strangely not for lunch).

Did I leave Adair Kitchen feeling healthy and proud after creating my own nutritious salad? No. But I slept really well knowing that I wouldn't be hungry again for the next 12 hours.

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