Your experience at Taste N See Chicken and Waffles, new in far south Fort Worth, will mostly hinge on your expectations. If you’re seeking an amped-up version of chicken and waffles, like you’ll find at Fixture or Buttons, this strip-mall spot may underwhelm.
But for a simpler, no-nonsense take on the popular soul-food dish, this 12-table mom-and-pop restaurant is crucial dining.
Opened in June by a pair of restaurant first-timers — son-and-mom team DeMarcus Davis and Anita Wilcox — Taste N See takes its name from a Bible scripture and its atmosphere from a jazz cafe. Images of jazz greats hang on the wall while jazz and gospel music plays on overhead speakers, muted only if there’s a Cowboys game on.
The menu is tiny, consisting of the restaurant’s namesake dish, a few other entrees (all of which revolve around chicken), desserts and several sides. Small, too, is the staff, made up of giggly, friendly kids who’ll take your order at the counter, then deliver food to your table.
Not small are the portions. An order of chicken and waffles ($9) is big enough to share — three large fried chicken wings come atop a super-thick waffle, twice the size of a Belgian. You can get it plain, or have it tricked out with extras — chocolate chips, blueberries, bacon or pecans.
Many restaurants that have jumped on the chicken-and-waffles trend serve tenders; Taste N See’s version comes with bone-in chicken wings. They’re more difficult to eat, but it makes for a more authentic experience, not to mention more complexity and flavor. But for the bone-in-chicken-challenged, tenders are available.
Wings were not of the scrawny variety. They were large and meaty, each sheathed in a light batter with a good crunch and, even better, slightly spicy flavor. Underneath, dark and white meat trickled with juice.
In less deft hands, fried chicken can be so greasy that it leaves the waffle soggy. Here, though, the house-made waffle was the ideal foil. With crisp, browned edges, it was strong enough to withstand the weight of the chicken but with a soft, chewy interior, it was still fork-tender. A subtle vanilla flavor nicely balanced the salt and spice of the chicken.
The kitchen uses a surprising — and welcome — amount of restraint. Our orders didn’t come streaked in syrup and butter. Bottles of both are on the table, so you decide how much you want. Even the blueberry chicken and waffles wasn’t an exercise in overload. The waffle was ladled with blueberry syrup, but economically, and the obligatory whipped cream was a no-show.
Also recommended is the TNS Chicken ($16), one of the few other available entrees. It’s a completely different take on chicken, and was as good as the main attraction.
Two baked breasts came submerged in a pool of rich cream sauce, dotted with diced jalapeños, shrimp and tiny cubes of sausage. Hearty and filling, it wasn’t for those with meek appetites.
A half-dozen sides are available a la carte and with certain entrees; most were good. Sweet potatoes came in the form of candied yams, cut into bite-size medallions, soft and sweet and bathed in a rum-infused syrup. Mac and cheese could have used some jazzing up, but greens were perfect in their simplicity, just salty enough.
House-made biscuits and cornbread were hit-and-miss. The small block of cornbread was too dense and dry but the biscuits made better use of their density, exhibiting a moist texture and buttery flavor.
Desserts rotate but typically include at least one house-made offering, from 7Up cake to peach cobbler. During our visit, we tried the latter and found the combo of peaches, cinnamon and biscuit crust to be a near-perfect balance of sweet and savory, which is what Taste N See does best.