Brown Sugar Kitchen, Oakland CA
It’s Memorial Day weekend and we’ve promised four days of recipes. We will make good on that promise, but we’ve got to take advantage of the long weekend when many might be traveling out of town, leaving a few seats free or a shorter wait list at Brown Sugar Kitchen. This is a popular restaurant, though, no matter what – we had to wait over the quoted time for a table, there were so many people leisurely dining. Everything has a reason, though, because we chatted about food with others in line and got some recommendations for restaurants to visit in the future.
When we got in and seated, we started with a simple biscuit. The menu touted seasonal jam, but when the biscuit arrived the server indicated the jar amidst the condiments already on the table. We passed on the community jam, but the biscuit didn’t need it anyway. It was flaky, buttery, and likely fresh-baked within the hour.
Zach ordered the famous chicken and waffles with apple cider syrup. The chicken was exceptionally juicy and moist, with a very intense herbed, slightly spicy, buttermilk breading. The flavor profile is unlike that of any other fried chicken you will taste. Of the waffle, he felt it was one of the lightest in texture he had tried, due to the cornmeal batter. It was his first time having apple cider in a syrup, and it was tart and tangy with a very, very light apple flavor and a mere medium sweetness. There was not much of a dollop of brown sugar butter on the waffle, but when mixed with the apple cider syrup, it was “super delisherrific.”
August got the pulled barbecue pork sandwich, which was mildly sweet and smoky with very tender pork. The spiciness of the coleslaw was more of a mouthfeel than a flavor, plus it added a much needed crunch to the sandwich with celery and red onion in addition to standard cabbage. The bread was soft, but thick enough to withstand the thin barbecue sauce and slaw dressing without falling apart.
The sandwich came with the choice of a side, and August got macaroni and cheese. It actually says “macaroni and cheese” on the menu, not “mac and cheese,” because this may look like it, but it’s definitely not Southern inspired. Creamy, gooey, and very lightly herbed with mild white cheeses, this was more of a California take on a classic.
We got an additional side because we really wanted to try both the macaroni and the cornbread. This cornbread had a great texture and flavor but nothing made it particularly stand out on its own. However, with the brown sugar butter, this immediately became dessert. Sometimes the most simple things are the most delicious.
We saw plenty people sitting in cars throughout the abundant street parking, and there was a lot of walking area in the mall on Mandela Parkway, so there’s enough scenery to keep you distracted while anticipating your meal. As long as you’re prepared for the wait, you’re in for a real treat.