First Bite: Rosscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles

Michael Nagrant / 03.15.08

It’s not often you wait two and a half hours to eat for ten minutes. The persistent mass of humanity waiting patiently in the lobby on opening day at Rosscoe’s Chicken and Waffles made the weekend brunch crowds at Wishbone and Bongo Room look like fun. Based on crazy demand (the line rarely thinned out in the three hours we we’re at the restaurant), we’d venture, at least for today, that Rosscoe’s was probably hotter than Schwa or Alinea.

Most of the patrons I spoke to were there because they thought this was the first Chicago outpost of the Los Angeles Roscoe’s chain. Chicago’s “Rosscoe’s” is not affiliated, though conversations between patrons and employees did nothing to dispel that myth. On two separate occasions, people told the manager, “We’re so happy you came from California”, and both times he responded, “We’re glad to be here.” We’re pretty sure, even with the alternate spelling, it’s only a matter of time before Roscoe’s slaps Rosscoe’s with a trademark infringement suit.

The wait for a table was only about an hour and a half. But it took us another hour after we placed our order to receive our food. According to an employee, the point of service ordering system had gone down, and most likely frazzled by the chaos, two employees quit during the shift.

Still, I’ve waited in line for over three hours to eat at the now defunct Uglesich’s in New Orleans, and the food justified every minute. That was not the case here. The waffles were tasty, but soggy and lacking any kind of golden exterior crunch. Eggs were overscrambled and our breast meat on one of the chicken pieces was dry.

The homemade biscuits might have been good, but they had dried to hard tack by the time they reached our table. The Tonya Joi, or a mixture of fruit punch and lemonade may have been fresh (we didn’t get a chance to ask), but it tasted like Crystal Light and Country-Time and was way overpriced at $2.80.

Our leg and our thigh pieces we’re juicy, and the spice profile, which has a bit of bite, though nothing like say Popeye’s spicy, was good. In fact, I’d take a plate of the chicken skin here anytime. The cheese grits were airy and lumpless, some of the best I’ve had locally. Also, the chicken livers, coated in the chicken spices were really good. Many places tend to overfry and dry them out, but these were spot on, and dipped in the waffle syrup, they were kind of like poor man’s foie gras.

The good news is that Rosscoe’s has a takeout window. Next time I’ll use it. As long as I don’t have to wait two hours, I think the chicken, livers and grits are worth a repeat visit.

Rosscoe’s is located at 3947 S. King Dr., 773-536-3300