Happy New Year. 2018 starts off with a culinary bang, especially if you’re a fan of Top Chef. If you’re following the current season (season 15), then you’re most probably familiar with Brown Sugar Kitchen’s chef/owner Tanya Holland currently a contestant on the show. Chef Holland is also a fellow Dame (Les Dames d’Escoffier) and Brown Sugar Kitchen has been on my list to try for quite some time now.
On a recent trip to the Bay Area, we were able to stop by for lunch at this highly popular Oakland eatery. The restaurant was packed with a line waiting for the soul food coming out of the kitchen. The glorious aromas wafting from the open kitchen was excruciating, but after sitting down to enjoy the meal, we agreed it was well worth the hour-long wait.
Everything looks fabulous, and it is obvious that the Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Cornmeal Waffle ($18) is the star here, with every table ordering at least a plate of it, and there is a reason why. The chicken is perfectly executed, moist and juicy on the inside, from soaking overnight in buttermilk. Pair that with a crispy well-seasoned coating, and you have the makings of a sure winner. There is a dollop of brown sugar butter on the waffles, but honestly, you don’t need it. The Crystal hot sauce on the table is highly tempting, but you don’t need anything other than what is on the plate. It is some of the best fried chicken you’ll ever eat.
Creole BBQ Shrimp ($20) served with steamed basmati rice and baby spinach is a tantalizing, taste-bud popping dish that had both my son and I in sheer ecstasy. A handful of holy trinity add color and flavor, and it is just as well they give you a spoon to eat every last drop of this umami-filled sauce. It blows anything I’ve eaten in NOLA out of the water. My son attributes this to the readily available produce we are so blessed with, here in California.
My son orders Black-Eyed Pea Salad ($4.50) and it does not disappoint. It is a fresh, light offering with bits of the holy trinity interspersed among the plump al dente black eyed peas.
Do not leave without trying the Beignets ($7), the same ones Chef Holland won a challenged with during the Top Chef competition, garnering high praise from judge Padma Lakshmi. They are fluffy and airy, and a perfect sweetness, even though they’re dusted with powdered sugar. The accompanying pluot jam Chef Holland sources from INNA, a local Oakland business, is simply outstanding.
If you’re in the Bay Area, make sure you stop by Brown Sugar Kitchen for some of their amazing chicken and waffles. Bring a bunch of friends, and you can try everything on the menu!
Brown Sugar Kitchen
2534 Mandela Parkway
Oakland, CA 94607