No one knows exactly how the combination of waffles and fried chicken came about, but a lot of people are very glad it did. Salty and sweet have long made for a satisfying pairing, and why, after all, should bacon, sausage, and sliced ham have all the fun? Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles is one of, if not the most well known purveyors of this artery-clogging combination, with several locations in Los Angeles. But are they the best? For today's food fight, we've decided to pit theirs against another L.A. dining institution: Pann's.
We began at the Roscoe's on Pico Boulevard, passing in front of a man selling likely-unlicensed Lakers memorabilia from his car on our way in. It didn't take long to settle on the "Scoe's," which netted us two waffles and a quarter chicken. We opted for a thigh and a leg, and our gravy on the side (it's nice to have the option of gravy, but smothering a fried chicken with it tends to kill a lot of its crispiness). The food was, in our memory, as it always was. Salty, crunchy, heavily seasoned chicken; soft, floppy waffles; and plenty of butter. We did not, as some have suggested, take the meat off the bone and turn the whole thing into a monstrosity of a taco. And though it had been a while, it was quickly clear why chicken and waffles make for such a popular duo. But while the chicken could do with retaining slightly more of its moisture, and the waffles could certainly be less impotent, the plate's classic union of fat, sugar, and carbohydrates were much enjoyed.
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At Pann's, the longstanding coffee shop on La Tijera, your waffles come with just one part of the chicken -- the wings. Ours were fried nicely, yielding a crackling skin with juicy flesh locked beneath. The waffle was freshly made too; a thick, Belgian one which maintained its shape, and never became too soggy. The execution, for the most part, was there. The one big fault though, at least on this day, was a lack of seasoning in the chicken. In most instances, the seasoning wouldn't seem to fall as flat, but up against a big waffle, melted butter, and syrup, it couldn't quite hold its own.
Ultimately though, no matter how much we enjoyed sitting up at the counter at Pann's while licking syrup and chicken grease from our fingers, something never quite seemed right. We enjoy good food no matter we happen to eat it. But for chicken and waffles? We can't help but feel like we're supposed to be at Roscoe's for that.