Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not at Waffle House anymore!
Well, if you, Dorothy, Toto or anyone else stumbles upon Taste Bar + Kitchen, a new restaurant in the former Sterling House where Montrose meets Midtown, you certainly won’t be.
Here, waffles are elevated to Emerald City stature. At Taste Bar + Kitchen (TBK), waffles are the star, ably supported by fried chicken, mac & cheese, and soulful sides.
This is comfort food taken to its most decadent extremes.
I experienced the dramatic excess in carefully modulated stages. A starter of Chicken Fried Cauliflower seemed a good way to test the water. (Chicken Fried? Yes — and the debauchery is only beginning.)
Soon set before me was a plate of golden fried cauliflower florets with a particularly umami Asian dipping sauce, one of a few options. The sauce played well against the lightly seasoned batter, and I gleefully enjoyed this dish.
Of course, I love to sip a cocktail with an appetizer. TBK’s cocktail list features riffs on popular desserts like apple pie and cotton candy.
I ordered the Peach Cobbler, and I’ll just quote the menu to show how over the top it is: “Deep Eddy Vodka, Pinnacle Whip Cream Vodka, peach cobbler puree, lemon juice, turbinado syrup… garnished with whipped cream, graham cracker crumbs and mint.”
Make that lots of whipped cream. While it didn’t taste all that cobblery, it was sweet, peachy, and damn good.
“Gleeful enjoyment” doesn’t begin to describe the ecstasy derived from my entrée of Cajun Chicken + Waffles. A leg and thigh of some of Houston’s best fried chicken (not too overboard with the spices) were crisp and juicy.
But the waffles. Oh, the waffles. I specified Pecan Praline, and four reasonably sized discs were drenched in a warm, nutty maple syrup and covered with toasted pecan pieces. These waffles were easy to cut into and even easier to get right into my mouth. They were a sugary triumph, deeply euphoric.
Something funny happened, though. With all this food I felt like I was at a fabulous party. Everyone around me was smiling; everybody was so nice. Who has just one cocktail at such a soiree? Not me, so I ordered the Bourbon Pecan.
Again, I’ll let the menu speak for itself: “Bourbon, orgeat syrup, lemon, whole egg, black walnut bitters… shaken hard and garnished with candied pecans.” Served in a champagne coupe, this cocktail had my eyes in the back of my head. Not because of its potency — potent though it was — but because of its flavor explosion.
I really wanted to taste TBK’s Lobster + Bacon Mac & Cheese, Cheeseburger Waffle, and Deep-Fried Waffle Bread Pudding (as if dessert were needed here). I’ll have them on upcoming visits. But for now, I have my memories of my most sinful meal in years. It was worth every calorie.