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L.A.-style chicken n’ waffles not city staple

With the summer winding down, I decided to share some of my mail.

And from the kind of mail I have been getting, apparently, there are a lot of poultry lovers out there.

Do any Fort Wayne restaurants feature or specialize in chicken and waffles? If there are more than one, have you tried them to know whose are best? … A friend said they were serving them at Chops, of all places, the other night. Thanks! – Mick, Fort Wayne

I have never seen the unique soul food treat that originated in Los Angeles anywhere in Fort Wayne. Chop’s Wine Bar is, indeed, offering a version now on its ever-changing menu. But it is not the kind of chicken and waffles you are after, Mick.

The Shreff’s Chicken and Waffles features two crispy battered chicken breasts tossed in a Korean chili-garlic glaze served with a savory kimchee waffle, cashew slaw and a soy-palm sugar reduction in place of maple syrup for $12.

I did some research and found a few places where you could order fried chicken and waffles and build your own from separate dishes:

•Lunch Box Café, 8814 Coldwater Road, offers a two-piece broasted chicken meal with two sides for $5 to which an a la carte Belgian waffle could be added for an additional $3.50.

•Sun Rise Café, 10230 Coldwater Road, has a four-piece fried chicken during dinner hours for $8.99 and a Belgian could be added to it for $4.69.

•Cosmos, 1425 W. Washington Center Road, offers Belgian waffles for $4.89 to which an a la carte boneless fried chicken breast could be added for $4.19.

•Spyro’s, 6455 W. Jefferson Blvd. and 4410 Bluffton Road, sells its Belgian waffle for $4.75 and an a la carte boneless fried breast for $2.25.

What’s your take on hot wings? First time I ever had hot wings they were just breaded and deep fried; the “wet” wings were unknown to me for quite awhile. Now you can hardly find “dry” wings. But, I’ve had hot wings all over the country, and some of, if not the, best wings I’ve had anywhere, wet or dry, are at Nine Mile. Ask for extra sauce. – Ken, Fort Wayne

I have not had the wings from Nine Mile on U.S. 27, but will next time I go for sure, Ken.

I am glad to see you like your chicken wings with extra sauce, too, and – since the great JT’s Soul Food closed its doors – I have not found a good place to get tasty dry seasoned wings.

As far as my “take” on chicken wings, well, what is there to say other than they are great? But I will do my best.

I like my wings natural (i.e. no breading) and fried until the skin is extra crisp. The art in doing that, however, is not overcooking the meat inside. I also like about any variety – garlic, barbecued, Asian, raspberry-infused – with the exception of teriyaki. But maybe I just haven’t found a good teriyaki. Good old Frank’s Red Sauce is never a bad thing, but I really like it when places either doctor up a bottled hot sauce or make their own.

I also am not one of these wackos who wants wings mega-volcano radioactive hot. I want some heat, but I don’t want to destroy half of my taste buds and have to use a box of tissues to clean up my watering eyes and runny nose while eating them.

Here are a few of my favorite wings that go beyond the standard Buffalo flavor:

•Boom Boom wings at Mitchell’s Sports Bar and Grill in the Marketplace of Canterbury; a somewhat creamy but still spicy orange sauce with a lot of flavor. I also love Mitchell’s house-made hot sauce.

¦Tower-style wings at Tower Bar and Grill, 2403 W. State Blvd.; flavored with garlic and Italian seasonings, these wings are fried and then grilled to get a little smoky char on them.

•The Oriental Sweet and Spicy at Kaysan’s, 7102 S. Anthony Blvd., and Kaysan’s 5th Down, 5830 Challenger Parkway; these grilled wings are the perfect mix of sticky-sweet and red pepper-hot.

I have a brother visiting from Chicago. In your opinion, other than JK O’Donnell’s and (Mad Anthony Brewing Co.) on Broadway, what are some of the best pubs and restaurants for their beer and ale selections.

Good food would be a consideration as well. – Gregg, Fort Wayne

Well, Gregg, you already know a couple of fine choices, but I have one more that I must recommend.

When it comes to the fermented hops, no one can touch the Trion Tavern in New Haven.

Trion has 40 beers on draft daily, and they come in all flavors and forms. And you can get samplers of five at a time.

The menu features just pretty solid bar fare, but you won’t be disappointed because the beer offerings make a trip there memorable even if the food doesn’t.

Ryan DuVall is a restaurant critic for The Journal Gazette. Reviews are based on two unannounced visits. The Journal Gazette pays for all meals. E-mail him at rduvall@jg.net, call at 461-8130. DuVall’s past reviews can be found at www.journalgazette.net, and you can hear Ryan from 3 to 4 p.m. every Thursday on 92.3 FM, The Fort.

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