So who's checking out America's Next Great Restaurant at MOA today? I picked Soul Daddy as a favorite from the very start and while I'm happy he won, a part of me is disappointed that the menu doesn't have fried chicken and waffles. I get that they wanted to take it a healthier route, but sometimes you just want fried chicken and waffles. :) Looking forward to reports of how this place is. I won't be checking it out until the buzz dies down a bit.
I watched the show and am pretty excited to try it. I will probably hit it sometime this week. I would be shocked if they dont have fried chicken at SOME point. I think if they can make a good fried chicken they will have some nice sales from it ;)
I'm not familiar with the show aside from chatter online, etc. but I happened to be walking past looking for lunch just after 11 a.m. today. The line wasn't too long yet (was ~40 people deep by the time I got out). So....here was my experience:
- "Country style ribs" Three ribs, dry rubbed. They hold them under heat lamps right in front of you as you walk up to order (with the chicken). I got my order to-go, walked 50 yards to the food court tables and dug in. The ribs were cold. Not just room temperature, but actually cold. I never return food to the kitchen...ever...but I contemplated heading back over and trading them in. The fact that they were also fatty (in a bad way...believe me I like some sizzling fatty BBQ goodness) and the now-very long line led me to decide it wasn't worth packing everything back up.
- Small cornbread waffle. Outstanding. Just a hockey puck sized, Belgian waffle style portion of crunchy goodness.
- Sweet potato salad (cold, but by design as opposed to the ribs). Fine...just cubed sweet potato with some flavorless herb (maybe parsley?).
- "Cheesy grits". Make some Quaker quick grits, put in a drop of yellow dye #5 and stir. No cheese flavor whatsoever...actually, no flavor at all. I was wishing there was salt and pepper on the food court tables. I ended up using the leftover butter from the waffle to give it something...anything. Also dipping my fork in the sauces (3 available, self-serve, all mediocre) then taking bites. Blah.
Funny, after I got back to the office, I looked up the story on this place/the guy who won. According to the Star Trib, "Woods was unemployed and selling waffles and wings from his apartment." After eating lunch, it made me wish I could find someone unemployed and selling waffles and wings from his apartment or something along those lines.
I'm somewhat forgiving of the first day/week etc. glitches but these seemed more conceptual/execution. First day glitches, to me, are things like inexplicably long waits, counter people not knowing how to ring things up/not being familiar enough to answer questions, running out of food items, and credit card machines malfunctioning, etc.
This operation was going very smoothly. Think Chipotle...it's eerily similar, especially how they pass your food from one person to another, shouting questions at you, even if your food happens to be 15 feet further down the line than you are. (I like Chipotle for what it is, BTW) I was in and out of there very efficiently...things actually looked well rehearsed behind the counter.
I was also disappointed at the sight of the food under heat lamps. They were turning over food very quickly so, in theory, it COULD end up OK, but in general, that's a great way to ruin food fast. I can't imagine what it will be like walking in there at 2 p.m. on a Tuesday in July when they are dead and that poor meat will just be sitting there drying out. For sure the grits were just a failed recipe.
But....yeah, to be sure/fair, it's probably best to wait a while.
I assumed the menu would include fried chicken and baked chicken. I will get the baked, but I'm not sure how this is going to do well with this menu.
I don't see a way to contact the chain to request nutritional information. That seems like a big mistake if they are claiming to be a healthy alternative.
Seriously... They do'nt have fried chicken or waffles?
Healthy is fine... but people want good stuff.... Here's some nice Chipotle sustainable calorie information for you if you want to eat healthy...
Chipotle Mexican Grilled Chicken Burrito
47 g fat
125 g carbs
2,656 mg sodium
and the side of chips is 570 calories. I offer this as information not as a knock on Chpotle which I enjoy and find delicious.
Soul Daddy doesn't need to make us healthy... Arby's doesn't, McDonalds doesn't, Chipotle doesn't... I want soul food... Soul food is fattening... That's what I want. I go to Wendy's for a Classic Double... to BK for a Triple Stacker.... to Taco Bell for whatever the hell they offer that is guaranteed to kill my diet on a calorie per minute basis much less calorie per day.
Juwan... Get your stuff together and serve us some Fried Chicken... You can't be soul food without BBQ, Fried Chicken, Greens, Grits, .... And did I say FRIED CHICKEN.
Even Bobby Flay wants it.
Exactly. Not having the fried chicken and waffles is going to be a fatal flaw, I'm afraid. The whole point of soul food is that it's indulgent. I can easily bake a chicken breast at home, but I don't want my kitchen to smell like a big greaseball for fried chicken. THAT, I will go out for... and wasn't the whole point of getting rid of the grilled cheese guy that you want to have something people won't make at home? I really hope they didn't completely get this concept wrong, but I think they may have. :/
I agree. I am the type who will go to Chipotle and get some black beans, chicken, veggies, no cheese or sour cream and get it in a bowl, then only eat part of it to avoid going over the fat/sodium/calorie content I'm supposed to have, but there is no way I would expect most people to eat that way. Honestly, it sucks, and if I didn't have a medical issue you can bet I'd be out in search of fried chicken. By the way, there is a waffle on the menu.
Yup for sure, not having fried foods and other "unhealthy" options is going to kill them IMO. There was another competitor something like Angels and Demons, with basically a healthy and an unhealthy option for each item (IE, baked and friend chicken). Yes people like healthy food, but honestly more people out there like unhealthy food lol.
My biggest surprise is that the "investors" (stone, flay, chipotle guy, etc) didn't make sure they had these unhealthy options. I thought these guys knew the restaurant business.
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I went there yesterday for lunch...and maybe I am slightly biased as I am from the South but I wasn't impressed with the food. Granted... I am not saying it was horrible but maybe it is just too commercialized. I do hope some of the stuff is just a first week thing (Like some of the employees seeming like deer in headlights.)
Biscuit: Too dry and dense. Kind of felt like a brick when it was sitting on the plate.
Grits: I am a giant fan of grits and I would say there were rather bland. Like one other post said, it just seemed like they added yellow food coloring. The grits needed some more salt and just all around flavor.
Collards: IMO...too crunchy... could have been cooked longer
Sauces: Personal preference I guess on these. I did like the mustard base cause and the hot sauce was just a hot sauce.
I'm not saying not try it. Go and make your own opinions...but I would probably wait a week and hope they get some of these things fixed.