Ressie Mae’s Soul to Go brings Harlem to Midtown
People, I’ve got some big news. You’ll probably want to sit down for this one (although chances are you’re already sitting- unless you have some sort of weird “stand while you work on your computer” thing going on). I will now dispense my amazing information in the form of a photograph:
That’s right… Chicken & Waffles has arrived in Midtown!!! If you are unfamiliar with the concept, it’s pretty simple. Take a waffle. Put some fried chicken on top. Cover the whole thing with syrup. Enjoy! (A final step of pounding on your chest to ward off a heart attack may be necessary)
I was first introduced to the Chicken & Waffle phonomenom at Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles (an amazing L.A. institution), but apparently it’s a restaurant/jazz club in Harlem that takes credit for inventing the dish. They claim it was created in the 30s to serve late night patrons who couldn’t decide between breakfast and dinner (would Gladys Knight lie!?!?)
From the moment I heard that you could get fried chicken served on a waffle, I knew it would be good. How could it not be??? Fried chicken. Good. Waffle. Good. Syrup. Always good. I had heard that Amy Ruth’s in Harlem (116th btw. Lennox & 7th) is one of the best places to go for this amazing treat, but I haven’t found time to make the pilgrimage. Well, I guess they got sick of waiting- and have now decided to bring the Chicken & Waffles to me! The owners of the famous, always a line out the door Amy Ruth’s in Harlem, have opened Ressie Mae’s Soul to Go in Midtown, across from the Port Authority (on 8th Ave. btw. 39th & 40th.).
Surprisingly, there are some who are not with me on this chicken and waffles thing. Those people are communists (I don’t even know what that means… but I’m sure it’s true.) These are the same people who probably eat every last bite of their eggs and bacon before biting into their pancakes. Craziness. Lucky for them (and all of us for that matter), Ressie Mae’s serves up all kinds of delicious soul food, all made from the same recipes used at Amy Ruth’s… and their lunch specials are so cheap it makes me wonder how we got so lucky.
The rest of the food, more pictures and the +/-, after the jump…
In addition to Chicken & Waffles, they serve a ton of other “soul food” specialties, and the lunch specials are rediculously cheap. Here’s a few of the dishes we sampled:
Coconut Shrimp w/ Fries lunch special ($5.50) and 2 Crab Cakes on the side ($1.25 each).
Catfish Nuggets w/ Fries Lunch Special ($4.95)
Side Order of Mac & Cheese ($2.95)
The coconut shrimp were awesome, and had a great coconut flavor- without being super sweet… and the crabcakes are a steal for $1.25 each ($3.75 for 2 crab cakes and fries lunch special). The catfish nuggets were less like nuggets, and more like big pieces of catfish. And, you can taste the real cheese in the Mac & Cheese (it’s also what is forming that dark yellow glob on the right side of the picture above). If you like your mac super rich, and cheesy- this is your new favorite place. They’ve also got oxtails, regular fried shrimp, a fried chicken lunch special (leg, breast and fries for $4.75) and a soft shelled crab sandwich w/ fries for $5.50 (although at that price it’s hard to come by- both times I’ve visited they’ve been out).
The lunch specials are all hand written on pieces of paper and taped to the wall, but there is a proper menu above the counter. If you don’t want fried stuff with fries, there are plenty of “entrees” you can order, including smothered pork chops ($7.95), barbecued ribs ($8.50), braised short ribs ($11.50) and roasted or fried chicken ($7.50). Those prices all include two sides- your choices of collard greens, candied yams, mac & cheese, grits and more.
Now, keep in mind you’re not going for the atmosphere… it’s a soul food dive across from the Port Authority. All I can promise is delicious, authentic soul food straight from Harlem. Everything is served to go, but there are a few tables in the back where you can sit and enjoy your lunch while it’s hot and fresh. The place has been practically empty the two times I’ve been (and the food still took almost 10 minutes to make), so get over their soon. It’s only a matter of time before this jem is discovered, and the lines begin…
THE + (what peope who like this place would say)
- They have chicken and waffles.
- It’s the same owners (and recipes) as Amy Ruth’s in Harlem
- The lunch specials are super cheap, and even though they are a little more expensive- the entrees w/ two sides are still a great value.
- All the lunch specials are made/fried fresh to order (except the braised dishes, and the fried chicken, which is already fried most of the way, and then refried to finish it when you order it. Frying it to order, from scratch would take way to long)
THE – (what people who don’t like this place would say)
- The atmosphere sucks
- It’s not exactly fast food. There was nobody there when we went for lunch on Friday, and it still took awhile to get our food
- This ain’t no light lunch
- The prices are super cheap, so I’m sure the seafood they use is not the #1 best possible stuff in the universe. They get shipments in every afternoon, so I’m not questioning its freshness- but it’s probably not the same quality as the stuff you’d be getting at a place like Esca.
- Because the seafood is delivered fresh every day, and the prices are so cheap, some of the menu items are not always available. There’s a sign for Soft Shelled Crab Sandwich ($5.50), but they didn’t have it either of the two days I went.
Ressie Mae’s Soul to Go, 612 8th Ave. (btw. 39th & 40th), 212-382-3886