A touch of Southern charm has landed on Bedford Avenue.
Hipsters mingle with savvy Manhattanites at a communal table in the boisterous, charming, urban farmhouse setting of Williamsburg newcomer Sweet Chick, but it’s the smell of fried chicken, waffles, and sweet, sticky syrup that let you know you’ve come to the right spot.
The eatery is essentially designed around the Sweet Chick chicken and waffles — a take on a dish originally from Harlem, despite its Southern associations — and the restaurant delivers on high expectations.
The classic preparation includes a small pile of crispy, crunchy fried chicken, which was soaked in sweet tea brine before getting dredged and fried. Though the restaurant doesn’t quite match the variety found at famous old roadside stands in the South, it presents an admirable attempt. The well-seasoned skin crackles with each bite, and is best enjoyed in a forkful alongside waffles, syrup, and one of the house-made butters (strawberry, lemon, or herb).
“We wanted to make the best chicken and waffles we could make,” said co-owner John Seymour. “There’s secret stuff in our waffles.”
Variations to the chicken and waffles include bacon and cheddar waffles, rosemary and mushroom waffles, and a special General Tso’s chicken with rice flower and broccoli waffles. And in a nod towards Brooklyn, Sweet Chick also offers a vegan fried chicken.
Brooklyn sensibility is incorporated with American Southern classics throughout the menu. Both Seymour and his partner Sam Saleh hail from New York, and despite their love for Southern charm and food, the establishment feels right at home in the center of Williamsburg, from the Edison-style light bulbs to the sign above the bar reading “Spread Love, It’s the Brooklyn Way.”
“We want to bring Southern charm, comfort food, great experience and great service to the community,” said Seymour. Also at home in Brooklyn is the Kale B.L.T. Salad, a welcome surprise dressed in tart preserved lemon vinaigrette carried by a touch of sour cream. The thick-cut bacon alone makes the salad worth ordering.
Other mains came with mixed ratings. A dish of arctic char with crawfish and beans is perfectly cooked but the fish is under-seasoned. And while each and every crawfish was delightful, the under-cooked flageolet bean stew held no charm at all, Southern or otherwise.
An inventive cocktail and simple dessert menu featuring pecan pie and a cookie jar effectively play supporting roles. But the real star here is the chicken and waffles, delivering Southern charm by way of Harlem in the heart of Brooklyn.
Will Levitt is a Brooklyn-based food writer. Follow him on Twitter @UnderEggWill