I grew up in a family that didn’t exactly herald breakfast as a hugely important thing to really give a shit about. We’re also all heavy sleepers and probably wouldn’t have made it to the table in time even if there were a glorious morning feast waiting (which there never was). I just assume wait until lunch and have a burger, considering that’s around when I wake up as it is.
Needless to say, the recent surge of people getting up early on a Sunday morning to beat the lines to the trendy brunch spots never fails to give me the “oh hell no” face. Up until very recently, I wouldn’t even eat eggs. Those are still a brand new thing for me.
I mean it. I don’t like breakfast food.
Well, not all breakfast food. There’s one that I’ve always had sort of a soft spot for, because it’s kinda like having a sugary snack as a meal. Or at least that’s what I thought was up. Turns out, the modern-day waffle can be done so many different ways. Of course, I’m that asshole who wouldn’t have even thought to make a burger with waffles as a bun. Simpleton, right here.
Then I went to Virginia to visit my bestie and have the best times all day every day yaaaaay. My mission while I was there: inhale as much barbecue as I possibly could, and try legit southern chicken and waffles. I had heard legend of this mythical meal, and it needed to be conquered. I accomplished both, the latter being one of the absolute best experiences of my entire life. Seriously. It was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten; my mouth is watering as I type this.
Awesome. So that was cool. From where I sit, Johnson’s Southern Comfort is 724 miles away. 11 hours and 5 minutes, not accounting for traffic, tolls or truck stops. Where can I find something that will match what I experienced? Monument Square, dude. It’s all about Wannawaf.
Okay, so it’s a different take on “traditional” chicken and waffles, but mastermind Anya Arsenault has it down to a science. In business since 2003, Wannawaf makes sure that you’re well aware how many interesting ways waffles can be prepared. One of those ways is the chicken and waffle route, but it’s not just some wings and a waf. Nope, they actually cook popcorn chicken into the waffle batter, which they make from scratch in-house. A homestyle take on something that’s being done to death all around the country, this fresh approach couldn’t be more welcome, unless it has white gravy.
Oh, wait. Yeah, they totally have that. And it’s also homemade.
“I’ve been cooking since I can remember,” Arsenault told me as she presented fellow Dispatcher Alina Sutherland and me with a plethora of different samplings. You can tell it’s a labor of love. The menu is broken into two sections: one for dessert-style waffles, and the other with more savory options, like a falafel waffle. And there is word of a gluten free option.
Guys. They make a waffle burger. And it’s friggin’ awesome.
We had the Cheeky Monkey, to which we added peanut butter, and had ourselves a bit of a dessert meltdown. It was amazing. I’m not normally into sweets (I say, as I wreck a package of Wild Berry Skittles), but this was totally worth the sugar buzz.
The new Monument Square location has been kicking for about two months now, and they’ve really done a lot to the spot, which has been a faceless sandwich joint for half a decade. With a spiffy new aqua paint job and an adorable outdoor seating area, they’ve definitely upgraded from the single-service window in Boothbay Harbor.
I’m sold. My soul has been taken over by the breakfasty Galactic Empire, though nowhere is it written that chicken and waffles is necessarily a breakfast-exclusive meal. Which is pretty dope, because on weekends, Wannawaf is open until 2am for the drunk rush. Once those food trucks are off the road for the season (is that happening?), there will be one true leader of the late night food pack. Wannawaf is really awesome. Get in there and meet the crew; they’re a blast. And grab me some chicken and waffles while you're there. I totally promise I'll pay you back.