This article is the first in a new series on Zelda & Scout: Home Away From Home. As the holidays wind down and we enter the grey slump of January, with nary a festivity in sight, we find ourselves getting a bit homesick. Especially with the temperatures plummeting to vortex levels, it’s easy to just mope around, eschewing real pants for Netflix and tea, spiked with our tears (sniff sniff). But instead, we’ve decided to start this year off on a positive note. True, we won’t be back below the Mason-Dixon for who knows how long. But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy some Southern charms and homey comforts right here in New York. This series showcases our favorite home homesickness remedies, and the corners of the five boroughs that make us feel a little more at home.
Our first “Home Away From Home” is a recent discovery. I went out for a belated birthday dinner last week with a friend from college, a fellow displaced Southerner. Since Williamsburg lies at the intersection of our subway lines, she suggested a little spot I had heard of but never tried, and an hour and a half later I was totally hooked.
Meet Sweet Chick: the darlingest little chicken and waffle joint this side of the East River. Let’s start with the chicken. It is, without a doubt, Dixie approved, from the original — brined for 24 hours, dredged, dipped in buttermilk, seasoned, and deep-fried to perfection — to the Cordon Bleu, General Tso’s, Mike’s Hot Honey, and other varieties. They even have a vegetarian alternative, which my friend opted for (much to her delight), describing it as one of the meatiest faux meats she’d ever sampled.
We both licked up every last bit of our Hot Honey (faux) chicken, but it’s the waffles that were the real stars of our meal. When it comes to breakfast pastries, my friend and I are both firmly Team Pancake (although if french toast enters the arena, her loyalties switch). These waffles, though, were a game changer. We both opted for the rosemary and mushroom variety, and while decidedly more rosemary than mushroom, they were heavenly. Fluffy as a summer cumulus, with just enough outer crisp hugging the doughy center, they had us on cloud nine.To top off our Southern feast, since it was a birthday celebration, we split a warm apple tart, topped with a scrumptious almond crumble and vanilla ice cream.While we were both elated with our selections, we agreed that next time we would need to branch out, trying some of the sun-dried tomato basil or thyme waffles we eyed on our fellow diners’ plates, maybe even branching out into shrimp and grits or pasta territory. But for a first visit, we were glad we stuck to the classics.
Overall, it was one of the most pleasant evenings I’ve ever spent in Williamsburg. The restaurant was cozy but not cramped, with a big communal table that gives the place a family dinner vibe. The service was amazingly fast and attentive while not nagging. And the whole experience had these two Southern ex-pats feeling right at home.
Got a favorite Southern spot in New York City? A go-to movie, recipe, or tune that makes you feel at home? Share your cozy favorites and homesickness battling tips with us in the comments or at firstname.lastname@example.org!