- scene: Down -home and downtown
- sip: Blood Mary's; signature cocktails, etc
- savor: Fried chicken and waffles; biscuits with sausage gravy; kale BLT
- sit: With anyone - there were a fair amount of families when we visited, and food this good is meant for sharing in large groups
- spend: $$
- address: 178 Ludlow Street (between Houston and Stanton)
- phone number: (646) 657-0233
- website: www.sweetchicknyc.com
Since I recently ate my way through Nashville, I am clearly an expert on Southern food, no? My time down south taught me a few things about a few things, and this knowledge empowered me upon my recent visit to check out the weekday brunch at Sweet Chick LES. You don’t need to be an expert to realize that the key to Southern cooking is soul, and that is something that Sweet Chick is overflowing with. There is integrity and soul in every element of the restaurant, from the handpicked details that decorate the space to the handmade flavored butters that accompany the fried chicken and waffles. Owner John Seymour is a native New Yorker, and full of reverence for his home city and the natural swagger that it imbues in its native creatures, all of which comes through in his food. Sweet Chick LES occupies the former Max Fish space, and although there were fears of backlash, the community has embraced the inherent New Yorkness of Seymour and what he is doing with Sweet Chick.
And bacon. Bacon always helps to win people over, and Sweet Chick sticks a big old slab of it right in their spicy Bloody Mary’s, which woke us up the Monday after a long weekend. What followed after that first sip was nothing short of bracing and delicious, lots of spice and warmth, addicting in its heat. I am not proud of the amount of food consumed at this meal, but it is my duty to report it honestly, in all its gluttonous glory, so see below for pictures and descriptions.
Fried chicken and waffles- The dish that Sweet Chick is known for, the fried chicken is brined in sweet tea which helps to make it bright and juicy on the inside; the skin had a fantastic amount of spice, and crunch, not too much batter. Daryl and I both have a weird thing with syrup, so we were happy for the three butter options (lemon, berry and herb) to flavor the waffles, which were the perfect consistency and just beautiful to look at. While Sweet Chick offers several different flavors of waffles, (bacon cheddar, rosemary mushroom, dried cherry), in addition to the original, the original suited me just fine, especially with some lemon butter.
Shrimp and grits-The cheddar grits were a perfect texture, right up there with the best I had in the south. The shrimp were juicy, and the portion is huge; I didn’t love the red pepper sauce, but this now special definitely deserves a permanent spot on the menu.
Steak and eggs- The steak had a very flavorful rub on it but was a little dry. In a meal with so many winners we were happy for just one dish that we weren’t tempted to finish all of.
Kale BLT- See above, re: bacon. Bacon can make kale edible, so this salad is a win. Daryl actually likes kale, so this salad was a double win for her. A yummy salad with protein on top, perfect for the dainty among us, no?
Biscuit with sausage gravy- Biscuits are one of my favorite things on earth, and this behemoth mound of biscuit was a show-stoppper. It was not too dense but not quite flaky due to its sheer mass, but still buttery and melty; the sausage gravy had delicious chunks floating around that tasted homemade. The biscuits as Sweet Chick could almost it’s own side business, I would love to try a cheddar bacon biscuit to go…
The LES is changing, but there is nothing more New York than a success story, so I hope that Sweet Chick will become a fixture on this new and somewhat shiny stretch of the neighborhood…Definitely something to cluck about!