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Katie Davis

@PopCultureCuisine

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Midnight Train to…Florida

Monday, December 13, 2010 @ 12:12 PM

065It has been snowing what feels like non-stop up here in Indiana, and I knew we would have to deal with this reality eventually when we decided to move back to the Midwest, however, I am not sure I was quite prepared for it.  You know God has a sense of humor when he doesn’t let you inch your way back into dealing with the cold and snow! :)  The reason I mention this is because I have noticed that since having to “brave the cold” has become a mandatory part of life these days, I seem to be craving a lot of warmer dishes. You know…comfort food.  Comfort food has for sure been on the brain and I don’t know how many times I have mentioned to Adam lately that I want fried chicken.

Now if you know me, you know the words "fried" do not come leaping across my lips all that often, but when I think comfort food, this is usually a dish that comes to mind.  Now don’t get me wrong, I like fried dishes of a lot of varieties, but any type of chicken in fried form is good in my book…Fingers, Wings, Legs, etc. I’m not picky and am willing to give it all a try; and when you pair those yummy fried treats with anything else I love, you got yourself a deal.  That would be exactly why this next place caught my eye on an episode of Travel Channel’s "Man vs. Food." It paired of the best yummy comfort foods….Chicken and….wait for it…..WAFFLES!

Glady’s Knight and Ron Winan’s Chicken & Waffles has been serving up this unique combination to its Atlanta patrons for many years, but the idea has been around since the 30’s.  Chicken and waffles began being served in Harlem, New York when many celebrities would hang out into the wee hours of the morning.  Often, they would get hungry and couldn’t decide if they wanted breakfast or dinner, so they gave them both!  Gladys Knight decided to continue the tradition in Atlanta and along with Ron Winan and Shanga Hankerson, developed this famed spot that still gathers crowds to this day.

Although it is definitely different, I was very intrigued when I first heard of the combination a few years ago. What’s not to like? Salty fried chicken wings and sweet waffles…yum! But I still wasn’t completely sold, and it wasn’t until I saw the following clip that I knew I had to get me a taste of this combination at some point in my lifetime, and the sooner the better…

 

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Sure…it still sounds like an odd combination, but after seeing that clip it is hard not to want to give them a try, right?  Luckily for us, on our anniversary trip to Orlando, we planned it so we would make it to Atlanta on our first night and right about dinner time.  So sure enough, we arrived that evening and maneuvered through the streets of downtown Atlanta and found this spot very easily.  We were both a little road weary by this point and not sure if fried and heavy food was really what our stomachs wanted, but who knows when we would be able to visit again, so for the sake of the blog, we sucked it up…I know our lives are rough 😉

Like I said…this place is very popular, so we had to wait a little for a table. So while we were waiting, I decided to look around a little bit.  I was very impressed with both the decor and our surroundings.  This is not some old timey or worn out joint. It actually has the feel of a higher end restaurant with tall booths, nicely upholstered and decorated walls, and great lighting.  The walls were decked out with photos and albums from over the years of Gladys and the Pips, which definitely added to the class and appeal. 

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Luckily, we didn’t have to wait long, and as we were walking to our table, we passed some dishes on other tables, and my mouth began to water. I did not need to peruse the menu long if at all.  I’d known for a long time exactly what I was going to be ordering…the Midnight Train.  That would be 4 fried jumbo chicken wings and an original waffle. Adam, on the other hand, knew he would likely get to try many bites of my plate, so he opted to try another dish, a traditional southern classic, Smothered Chicken.  We also got a few sides…collard greens, their house potatoes, and the macaroni and cheese (I mean duh…a given when Adam is ordering), and we didn’t have to wait long at all!

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Yeah… it definitely was a lot of food; and looking back, we likely could have just shared my chicken & waffles with sides and still been plenty stuffed.  The wings themselves were massive and I was barely able to eat 2. Still, they were extremely good!  The flavor of the wings was very unique, not one I had ever had before.  They were crispy and juicy like a wing should be, but the batter had a unique ingredient that provided a bit of sweetness.  Adam was convinced it was maple syrup or molasses. Dunno, but whatever it is, it was good. 

The waffle itself was pretty standard…not the best I’ve ever had, but still good, and I did enjoy how its simple flavors and texture paired with the fried chicken.  Adam loved the smothered chicken. I didn’t much care for it, but I’m also not a big fan of food with gravy. We also both agreed that the Macaroni was AWESOME! As of the other side dishes, I have found that I do no particularly like collard greens 🙂 and the potato casserole….ehh. Still, overall it was a very tasty meal.

SIGNATURE DISH:  I would say that the name of the restaurant makes it pretty clear.  Their midnight train of chicken & waffles is what made this place famous.  However, they have a wide array of other classic soul food favorites as well that they have given their own flair too.

TASTE: The wings were extremely impressive…some of the best I’ve ever had. They are large and meaty and definitely a hearty portion.  At first, I wasn’t convinced 4 wings was going to cut it, but when I could barely make it through two, I knew these wings were something special.  What made them so great was their unique sweet flavor and the fact that although fried they were not overly greasy.  The other dishes we tried were equally good and definitely filling, but the wings were definitely the superstar here.

AMBIANCE: As I mentioned above, I was impressed with the decor and overall appearance of this spot.  It reminded me of a swanky or upscale crooner bar with its deep wood tones and rich colors.  And because their typical dishes are down home soul food, you honestly would expect a much different looking place, but instead it is much more upscale than you would think.

PRICE: Although these are down home meals, their prices do not necessarily reflect that.  I think to match their higher end look, their prices are a bit high too.  The midnight train is fairly reasonable at $10.50, but some of their other entrees like the smothered chicken are $14.50.  In the grand scheme of things, these prices are not exorbitant, but I would think that simple soul food is not typically priced as high. 

SERVICE: Our service was not great.  Our waiter was nice, but not very jovial or patient. I’m not sure if it was just us or that he didn’t really want to be there.  Either way, he just seemed a little short. Perhaps he could tell we were not from those parts…:) Regardless, I felt we were treated as outsiders.

We were exhausted and hungry by the time we arrived at Gladys Knight and Ron Winans‘, but outside of that, we really did enjoy ourselves for dinner.  It was nice to have a warm home cooked meal; and although filling, it didn’t leave you feeling gross or heavy when you left.  I loved the sweet and salty combination of my chicken & waffles. Heck…for the chicken wings alone, I’d be "Goin’ Back to Find…" ;)  I give this soul food hot spot 3 1/2 ‘Little Piggies.’

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