author: shelbi glover | a&c writer
You merely adopted chicken and waffles, I was born into it
If I had to describe Leopold’s Tavern in one word, I think I would choose loud.
Not that there’s anything wrong with being loud. Take me, for example. I’m really, really loud. Doctors have attributed this fact to my ADHD, and I simply cannot help it. I laugh loudly, I talk loudly, I scream loudly when startled. Which is okay. It’s just the way I am. If you can’t accept me this way, I get it, but don’t expect me to give you the best brunch in town. Which is exactly what Leo’s gave me.
Another thing you need to know about me is that I’m never awake in time to eat breakfast. A regular wake up time for me is, let’s say, 1 p.m. What is there to eat for breakfast at 1 p.m.? Short answer: nothing. Long answer: since Canadian McDonald’s only sells McMuffins all day like it’s the stone ages, I am denied my God-given right to breakfast everywhere — until now, anyway.
Upon walking into Leo’s, I noticed one thing right off the bat: my girlfriend and I were the only women present. At 1:30 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon, the tavern was occupied solely by white men watching the Winter Olympics, which I imagine is probably fairly standard. I can’t speak for other times of the day, but hopefully the crowd becomes more diverse in the evenings.
The second thing I noticed were the various objects (jerseys, guitars, and more) glued to the ceiling in some kind of sporty mosaic. However, I couldn’t stare for long, since my girlfriend very quickly interrupted me with, “Can you imagine if everything fell from the ceiling at once?” And, thus, my meal was tainted from then on with a shadow of anxiety.
Not tainted enough to be bad, mind you. Despite the roaring crowd and ever-looming threat of being knocked out by a stray guitar, my server was very nice. Even more than that, she was fast. I didn’t get her name, but I’ll call her Monica. Monica zoomed between those little tables and chairs like she was born to do it. She navigated the labyrinth between our table and the kitchen without so much as tripping which, considering how tightly packed the venue is, is incredibly impressive. Monica also changed my life forever, unknowingly giving me the key to all of my breakfast dreams: “brunch goes until 2 p.m.”
Wait, wait, wait. You mean to tell me that, every weekend, Leo’s Tavern sells breakfast until 2 p.m.? That’s, like, a whole hour after I usually wake up. That’s plenty of time to wake up, shower, and get there in time to devour as many eggs as I can possibly manage.
This newfound knowledge refreshed me. Baptized me, even. I am not the same woman I was when I walked into Leo’s Tavern on a Sunday morning.
Anyway, it is with this new knowledge that I ordered the chicken and waffles, but requested the “drizzle of ranch” on the side, since I hate ranch dressing but was too nervous to ask for none of it at all. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m from the deep American south; and, with that said, chicken and waffles is a southern delicacy, so I was intrigued to see how this version might hold up to the original.
All in all? Pretty well.
Monica returned with my food in about 15 minutes – again, she was so fast – and I immediately dug in. The waffles were perfectly soft, and the syrup was unique; I can’t put my finger on what exactly made it different, but I loved it. But we all know what really makes or breaks the entire dish: the chicken.
Again, I’m from the deep south. I grew up in Kentucky, for crying out loud. We invented chicken. Colonel Sanders is buried five miles from my home university. It’s a very serious business, chicken. There is no margin for error.
Luckily, Leopold’s passed with a hard A-. Although it was just a little too crunchy for my tastes, it was a perfect complement to the waffles and syrup. Every bite was an absolute delight, and I ended up unable to finish it all, since the portions were huge.
My girlfriend also insisted I include her review of her own brunch, in which she said the following:
“I know I should enjoy their sausage, but the truth is, I don’t like it as much as the overly-processed shit I get at Denny’s. Which is unfortunate. I know that this is so much better for me, and I feel bad, but, damn, I love Denny’s.”
So, there you have it. If you’re looking for a huge serving of chicken and waffles that holds up to true southern standards, Leopold’s is your place – at least, until 2 p.m. on weekends. If you’re looking for food you know in your heart is gross but will cure your soul, perhaps consider Denny’s; although I’m certain that, with just one glance at the menu at Leo’s, you could probably find something else to your liking.
In any case, I will absolutely be going back, even despite the noise, the men, and my girlfriend’s apparent distaste for fresh sausage. Those chicken and waffles are all I’ve thought about for the past 24 hours, and I’ll be damned if I let this new breakfast opportunity slip through my fingers.