Chicken & Waffles @ Merritt Bakery, Oakland
Last Sunday I finally had a chance to check out the fried chicken recommendation from numerous posters. Thanks to all who reported on this long-time favorite!
I was riding in the car with my sister when she mentioned Merritt Bakery and my chow memory banks clicked into overdrive. "How's the fried chicken?", I asked. She nodded and said it was so much better than Roscoe's which deserved to go out of business. It had been one of her late night stops after concerts back in the day and still a good neighborhood place. We called her husband to join us there and headed over for Sunday dinner.
Stephanie guided us to her favorite table, a booth facing the windows. It offered a nice view of the sun setting over Lake Merritt with cars whizzing by on Lakeshore and also the pie display case. Our mom had been feeding us all day, so we ordered lightly sharing a waffle and two thighs (about $8), an extra waffle and a side salad. Larry ordered the 4 piece (half chicken) dinner for about $13. Our very pleasant and sweet waitress was Emma.
Stephanie mentioned that the restaurant is popular with the retirees in the nearby senior apartments. Salad dressing is served on the side, and some of the food is a tad undersalted to accommodate their diets.
The portion of dressing was enormous (photo below), almost making me wish I'd ordered a batch of wings for dipping Buffalo style. We had two of these on the table! The salad came with a chilled fork with freshly cut and crisp greens and a couple slices of decent tomato.
The chicken was expertly fried with a crackly crust. Not spicy, and it did indeed need a little salt. The thigh pieces included the back and were so juicy that they squirt and dribble when you bit through the skin. Larry's dinner plate came with a side of corn plus mashed potatoes and gravy. The potatoes were nothing special, but I did like the gravy and could taste a note of smoky ham fat.
Most of the pastries and cakes (lots of blue and gold frosted ones for graduates) didn't look that great to us, but we thought the pies looked promising. I was also interested in trying the housemade ice cream, but we were too stuffed for dessert this outing. Advice in this area would be appreciated.
Note that it's no longer open 24 hours.
Merritt Bakery & Restaurant [East Lake]
203 East 18th St.
Oakland, CA 94606
Open 6am to 1am
7 days a week and holidays
I've been meaning to try this place at the advice of all the Chowhounds but Shep's recommendation at a Limsterfest dinner and Melanie's post this weekend finally convinced me that I had to go NOW. It's not the hole-in-the-wall that I imagined but a nice diner-like setting. The waitress we had was extremely friendly and nice, as were all the staff. All 5 of us ordered some variation of the chicken and waffles and were delighted by simple goodness of it all. I guess I didn't read the menu closely enough because I was expecting a bowl of dressing with a side of salad a la Melanie's post. But only chicken and waffle, which was just fine. I wanted to try some of the pies but was too stuffed and besides, the waffle had already satisfied my sweet tooth. I can't believe I've missed out on this place for so long!
Onward now to the Vietnamese places on International.
I haven't been to the Merritt in years -- but I went there a lot in my late teens (post drivers license), when it was open 24 hours. I've eaten there at 7 in the morning (after singing at the Mayor's prayer breakfast) and 2 in the morning (after a dance). But I could probably count on one hand the number of times I had anything other than pie, specifically hot apple pie with cinnamon sauce (sometimes -- to the horror of my friends -- with a side of their surprisingly good kosher dill spears).
I guess I've been afraid to go back and see how much it's changed ... or I have.
Would someone report on the pie for me [g]?
"bowl of dressing with a side of salad" - an apt description!
I had the same reaction to the place. Had thought it was somewhere I'd feel more comfortable in bright sunlight and escorted. I also noted that the booths are in fine shape and good repair - not torn or springs shot - unlike many places of that age.
If you had ordered wings, they undoubtedly would have given you another serving of dressing to make sure you had enough.
This size of dressing is to make sure that those who like to linger after their meal is gone can continue to eat their dressing with a spoon.
It's been done.
Ah, now I understand why our waitress was surprised that we wanted her to take the bowls of dressing away with our empty salad plates. She still left one on the table just in case, I guess. I still feel guilty not having the two combined and packed to go. (g) I never buy ranch dressing, that could have kept me stocked for a long time...
Here's a picture of the chicken and waffle dinner. It came with two thighs - you can also order with drumsticks, wings or breast. The waffle was served on a very hot plate which partially melted the whipped butter. The syrup was warm and had some taste of maple, probably blended. Very nice waffle, crisp and not chewy crust, with an eggy batter. We liked that they bring the hot sauce automatically without having to ask for it.
As others have mentioned, prices are lower for take out. The chicken dinner which Larry had is about $4 less to go. Party packs are available for big orders, anyone for 500 pieces of fried chicken for $585?
re: Melanie Wong
Thanks, I am enjoying my brother's camera. I'll have to give it back to him some day. (g) I can't claim credit for the laksa leaf - got it on the web. Most of my shots have been at dinner hour indoors and are too dark - don't know how to use the software for editing yet.
When I saw those salad plates come out with bowls of dressing, I thought to myself, "gosh I wish I could take a picture of this". Then it dawned on me that I still had the camera in my purse from our dinner at Dasaprakash and could snap those shots!