|Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles|
Chicken and Waffles has a pretty intriguing history. One source said that it harkens back to the early 1800’s. However, another source contradicts that, claiming that there is no mention of any Chicken and Waffles recipes in Mrs. Porter’s Southern Cooking (1871) or What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking (1881), two of the earliest African American recipe texts. Other histories credit Wells Supper Club with the raise of Chicken and Waffles by serving late for dinner, early for breakfast meal to jazz musicians.
In my last visit to Roanoke, Mom and Dad wanted to take my boyfriend and I out for lunch. In brainstorming where to go, I just so happened to walk by Thelma’s Chicken and Waffles while in Downtown Roanoke. Since I had never eaten there and I’m such a big fan of this flavorful and soulful combination, it just made sense to give it a whirl.
Thelma’s Chicken and Waffles has been around Roanoke for a quite a while, but has only recently moved to its Downtown location. You feel like you’ve been welcomed into someone’s home from the moment you walk in the door. Friendly smiles great you and soul food exuberance is apparent in all the staff. They boast of serving the “true flavor of the south” and the menu reflects that joy.
Although lots of great looking items on the menu, I was there on a mission and that mission was Chicken and Waffles. Luckily, a waffle with a fried piece of boneless breast was on special, and so all four of us ordered up a plate. Dennis and I go the side of potatoes; Mom and Dad got fried apples.
All of us agreed, the Chicken and Waffles were awesome. The chicken had a great balance of spice, pepper, and saltiness, using a tasty crunchy outside to hide a juicy chicken inside. When you cut the fried chicken, juices just ooze into the sofy, slightly sweet waffle below. Mom and Dad loved the fried apples that were decadent and delicious, and Dennis and I loved the potatoes. The “fried potatoes” aren’t really like fried potatoes at all. Instead of little cubes or slices of potatoes, it is more like a potato mash with seasoning and a little onion--such a perfect side bite to the Chicken and Waffles.
While eating, I noticed there were two definitive approaches to consuming Chicken and Waffles. Dad and I cut up the chicken breasts in smaller pieces and distributed them over the waffles so that each bite of waffle was topped by a piece of chicken. Mom and Dennis kept the chicken on the side, slicing off a bit of chicken and placing it over a bite of waffle, keeping both waffle and chicken independent until the moment of the bite.
In sitting back in the booth, enjoying a post sweet and fried high, I wondered how many tasty meals we all missed by not having gone to Thelma’s earlier. On the website, Thelma’s ends the commercial that they are the place “where the food is for thought and it is always a family affair.” That is the best punchline to experience eating there. Don’t make the mistake I made by not trying Thelma’s. I don’t want you to live with that kind of regret.