The dish arrived in front of me and I burst out laughing, catching the attention of the young couple dining next to us. The man glanced at my plate and then at me. “That’s just ridiculous, and obnoxious, and awesome,” he said.
Quite the diversion from our last visit to The Mill at 2T, which involved small tasting plates and perfectly matched wines. For Rob’s birthday, we both decided to go big.
Birthday boy opted for a Flintstone-sized ribeye, with parmesan potatoes and asparagus. And with one look at the menu, I bypassed the coldwater lobster en papillote and New England striped bass for this comically large plate of fried chicken and jalapeno waffles.
It’s a soul-food tradition that’s gratefully catching on at gastropubs and upscale comfort-fare spots, though I still don’t see it often enough. Corey’s Catsup & Mustard in Manchester once had a chicken-and-waffle sandwich that disappeared from the menu (but has since returned, as we saw during a recent visit.) And you may remember our triumphant first attempt at Ad Hoc fried chicken, nestled on a pillowy sweet potato waffle courtesy of Kat. When I saw it in Tariffville Friday, I had to have it.
The massive all-natural bone-in chicken breast was buttermilk-brined, our server told us, then fried crisp with a zesty blend of seasonings, topped with shaved Brussels sprout slaw (which I’ve got to make at home now) and drizzled with a bit of flavored honey (sweet chili, perhaps?)The uniform moist juiciness of the chicken breast made me wonder if it had spent some time in a sous-vide bath before hitting the oil.
The waffle itself was light as air, delivering the essence of jalapeno flavor without the bite – which worked. With so much zing in the fried chicken crust, a blast of heat might have been too much.
And the buttermilk gelato…kind of a miss for me in terms of composition. It was fabulous on its own, but didn’t really work for me as it melted and coated the bits of vegetables on my plate. By the end of that course, I wasn’t feeling dessert. (But then again, I’m the person at the buffet who can’t stand when tomato sauce touches my salad greens.)
While I wrestled happily with my oversized chicken breast (and melting gelato,) Rob was having the time of his life over the ribeye, fired to a textbook medium-rare and seasoned to perfection. It was the shining moment of an exceptional birthday meal and service to match – starting with complimentary prosecco and raspberries, continuing with a veal-and-gnocchi amuse and ending with a single candle in a dense, decadent double chocolate brownie.
Lest you think our gluttonous July is over, it’s not. We head to Maine next weekend for a round of competitive eating that includes Ogunquit’s Black Sushi, Arrows (reservations five months in the making) and Fore Street in Portland. Bring it on.