New York's Sweet Chick Lands In L.A. To Vie For Chicken And Waffle Dominance
One of the great things about having Nas as an investor in your restaurant is, of course, getting to say that your joint is part-owned by one of the greatest rappers in hip-hop history.
The blessing's a curse, too, however; the optics of celebrity involvement aren't so great. We may think of the retired athlete, who has too much time and cash in hand. Or of the musician who's trying to diversify the ol' portfolio by mutating into a brand. Whatever the perception, the notion is that personal investment is minimal, and that the menu has been cobbled together by a faceless assemblage of chefs. What? You think Jimmy Buffett's slow-cooking your Jammin' Jambalaya® in the back of a Margaritaville?
But Nas' Sweet Chick, which opened last month on Fairfax, is not some half-baked, glory project. There's a sense of deliberation in the Southern-inspired menu, and all the plates are unabashedly rich. It already has two outposts in New York, and it's touted as having the best plate of chicken and waffles in NYC, so it takes a certain gumption for them to sweep into The Land of Roscoe's.
We dropped in just as its brunch menu was being unveiled last weekend. And while we'll refrain from making comparisons to Roscoe's (don't ask us to choose between children!), we'll report that Sweet Chick's chicken and waffles is perfectly delicious. The spice and batter on the chicken is done up lightly, which means your attention is drawn to how juicy and pliable the meat is on the inside. And the waffle similarly juxtaposes a crunchy exterior with a soft core. Sometimes you'll end up with a Belgian waffle that's burnt into a Girl Scout cookie, but at Sweet Chick they're wonderfully moist and substantial, making you forget that you're basically eating dessert at 11 a.m.
If you're lazy about eating your chicken and waffle separately, there's the sandwich version to accommodate your sloth. The result really isn't as harebrained as it sounds; the sandwich consists of a chicken breast thats dressed in a tangy bourbon molasses glaze that provides a satisfying crunch, as well as a certain zest that acts like a hot sauce but isn't quite hot.
Yet, with all the talk about chicken, it was the plate of biscuits and gravy that took us by surprise. The dish, while not exactly photogenic, is the very definition of indulgence. You'd expect the biscuit to be fluffy and crumbly, but there's a pleasantly doughy consistency at its center, and the strong waft of butter is undercut by the gravy, which is (perhaps ironically) the more subtle-tasting party of this twosome.
Other hearty offerings on the brunch menu include a duck and shortrib meatloaf sandwich that's garnished with pickled shallots and a jalapeno jam, ricotta pancakes that come with compote and praline butter, and a healthy serving of shrimp and grits that's matched with poached eggs.
If you really want to tap into the restaurant's Southern side, however, it's perhaps best to drop in during dinner time, as the menu includes crawfish hush puppies served with a remoulade sauce, sweet potatoes that come with mustard greens and a goat cheese brulee, a plate of chicken liver mousse with cornbread, plus even more iterations of the bird, including a Nashville fried chicken. (We're sad to report that the biscuit and gravy is only available on the brunch menu).
Sweet Chick is also buoyed by a bar that comes with a list of well-wrought cocktails. The offerings range from the heady (like the "Tinted Windows" that combines mezcal, solbeso, ginger syrup, and grapefruit bitters) to the tongue-in-cheek (the "Purple Drank Icee" that's made of an unholy concoction of gin and Welch's grape soda). But in spite of the wide array, is there anything more perfect than Sweet Chick's iced tea? Which you can booze up with any spirit of your desire?
And we can't leave without mentioning the music that's blasting from the speakers. No, it's not Illmatic put on an endless loop, but a playlist of R&B deep-cuts that take you back to the dot-com '90s (we're told that manager Alex James is in charge of the playlist). Certainly, we can picture Nas eating at his own restaurant. Would we be able to say the same for Rascal Flatts?
Sweet Chick is located at 448 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, (323) 592-3423.