Dude Food: Hattie's

Each week the Dude Food guys assess the 'masculinity' of Dallas area dives. The more fried meat and junk on the walls, the better the rating...

418 Bishop Avenue

Dude Factor: 10, or Jake Tyler Brigance, on a scale of 1 (Darby Shaw) to 10.

The first time I walked into Hattie's, I admit I felt a little out of place. After all, with the white tablecloths and natural light, it looks like a prime location for some crooked lawyer powerlunch straight out of a John Grisham adaptation. Plus, it was around 1 p.m. on a Sunday, so I obviously hadn't showered.

Seeing a lack of apps on the Brunch menu, I went for the Tomato bisque, an uncharacteristic move to say the least. But this little cup o' soup came complete with a mini grilled cheese, which I fully endorse. Honestly, I don't think I can ever eat another soup without a mini grilled cheese for the rest of my life--it's that much of a game changer. Never been a soup fan, after all, but being a dude, I  love dips.

I then checked out the rest of the menu, wavering between a house sirloin burger (I'll definitely have to go back for the dinner version, which is stuffed with pulled pork...) and a breakfast of bacon and eggs. But then the waiter mentioned the special, three little words that changed my life forever--chicken and waffles.

Decision-making  was out the window at that point, obviously--he could tell from my approving grunt that instinct had kicked in. Really, it took all of my self control to keep from mounting the table, beating my chest like King Kong and bellowing "Chicken and Waffles!" at the top of my lungs.

The journalist in me obviously should have taken a photograph of the dish when it arrived, but honestly, it was too beautiful for human eyes to bear--I had to destroy it. The boneless, skinless, buttermilk fried chicken breast and giant waffle could have easily been mistaken for some Stonehenge-style tribute to the gods. The construction wasn't the only monumental task involved, though--I had to actually finish this thing.

The dish came complete with some red chile-flecked maple syrup, but I dared not pour it over the top lest I ruin the harmonius marriage of Belgian pastry and yardstrutter, a taste that continues to haunt my dreams.

The meal was so momentous it had to be repeated, so when my girlfriend's parents visited town this weekend, we decided Hattie's would be the perfect place for our two clans to finally meet. Such introductions are always delicate affairs, but with mouths full of chicken and  waffles, low country shrimp and cheddar grits, and fried green tomato sandwiches, any controversial topics of discussion were easily avoided.

It's a tactic they might even consider on Capitol Hill--serve Congress a lunch of chicken and waffles, and common ground will be easy to find. I guarantee you something would get done at that meeting...sure, the legislators might need a nap before the vote, but change would come nevertheless. 

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