Last week, Ally and I had the unique pleasure of a weekday lunchtime brunch. Our lives this summer have both been so crazy with travel that it’s been quite challenging finding any time to fit in local weekend brunches; us New Yorkers tend to flee from the city this time of year. We were thrilled when Sweet Chick invited us to try the newly opened LES outpost of their chicken and waffle empire, and both jumped at the opportunity to treat ourselves mid-week. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect, as Ally and I both arrived suffering from our impromptu indulgences from the night prior and were craving some fried food.
There is no better cure for one-too-many than a hearty soul-food filled brunch like what you’ll find at Sweet Chick. I walked in overheated and unbalanced from my evening out, yet I found myself immediately comfortable thanks to the relaxed vibe. The Brooklyn-esque atmosphere spills out onto Ludlow from oversized windows, making the cozy restaurant even more inviting. We opted for a communal table situated near the bar to allow some extra room for our plates.
I took in the exposed rafter ceilings, industrial bar stools, fresh flowers that adorned the tables, and miscellaneous wall décor that one might find in a farm or antique shop. I also noticed the tattoo-clad bar patrons working on their laptops whom I first mistook for diners, but quickly realized were running the show. John Seymour, owner of the growing empire, came over to meet Ally and I before our meal started and shared the success of the recent opening. His laid back attitude couldn’t mask the obvious passion he has for his work and it was really fun meeting him. We also learned that his local city upbringing and exposure to Harlem soul food inspired Sweet Chick. Who knew that chicken and waffles actually hails from NYC, not the South?!
As much as we wanted to order something boozy, our day jobs were waiting for us, so we stuck to sweet tea and hot press coffee instead. With that, the flood gates of kickass food were opened and plates started coming from the kitchen. When you go here, don’t hold back.
First up was the kale BLT salad for a bit of greens. House cured bacon and tomatoes were served with well-seasoned kale, all over a preserved lemon vinaigrette. It was great, but let’s be honest….massive biscuit covered in gravy always trumps the kale salad. Sometimes you have to follow your heart, not your diet.
With that, let’s discuss the biscuit with sausage gravy. Offered as a side on the menu, it’s big enough to be a small meal. Biscuits and gravy are a favorite from my days in the South at Elon University and it’s rare to find ones north of the Mason Dixon Line that are up to par. These rate.
Next up were our mains. This shrimp and grits dish was a weekday brunch special, but also makes an appearance on the regular brunch menu on the weekends. This was served with poached egg, seasoned with a smoked paprika and bell pepper sauce and scallions, and completed with deliciously cheesy cheddar grits. I’ll preface this by saying that shrimp and grits aren’t my thing. I would have never ordered them if it wasn’t an adamant recommendation, but I am so very glad we did. Sweet Chick’s twist on this classic was rich in flavor and I found myself continuing to steal bites even after the star of the show, the chicken and waffles, arrived!
We also enjoyed the short rib steak and poached eggs, a weekday brunch special, with housemade steak sauce, roasted potatoes, and peppers. The steak was succulent and cooked to perfection with just the right amount of sauce. I loved that the traditional “steak and eggs” brunch dish incorporated my favorite red meat, short ribs, instead.
We saved the fried chicken and waffles for last. Although we went with original, brunchers have the option of selecting waffle flavors like bacon & cheddar, spiced pecan, and walnut & parmesan if they want to mix it up. The fried chicken was generously breaded, although Ally would have liked it to be a little less so, minimally greasy and extremely juicy. As far as chicken and waffles go, I thought this was a standout and I look forward to returning and trying out the different flavors.
The Bitches say: A. Go here for mouthwatering soul food and a relaxed vibe, and access the ease of Brooklyn without having to jump on the L. Plus, good weekday brunches are a rarity – we recommend camping out here on your next personal day.
(Lower East Side)
Sweet Chick serves brunch on Monday through Sunday from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.