The origin of fried chicken and waffles has been hotly contested as the dish has seen a surge in popularity over the past decade. I’m inclined to believe the Well’s Supper Club story, a restaurant started in 1930s Harlem that hosted hungry jazz musicians after their late night sets. Having leftover fried chicken from the night before and waffle batter ready for the impending breakfast service, the cooks would throw together the now iconic dish out of necessity. It quickly became popular around the clock.
Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr. has now introduced a sandwich version, placing their hand breaded chicken breast between a Belgian waffle and adding a drizzle of maple butter sauce. The inviting maple syrup smell wafts out of the fast food bag, while the less inviting $5.99 price tag for a breakfast sandwich sets the expectations high.
The hand breaded chicken breast has a light crispy coating that is fried to perfection. While it could benefit from a stronger punch of spices in the breading, they are well balanced with one another. The brined chicken is extremely juicy and flavorful with the one drawback of being just on the verge of too salty.
The waffle walks the line admirably of being durable enough to not make a mess yet still tender enough to be pleasant to eat. It is slightly dense for a Belgian waffle but has the right subtle hint of sweetness. The main issue is that it is a small waffle that was then split in half to make the sandwich as opposed to utilizing two small waffles together. This leaves the waffle bun very thin and easily overpowered in flavor and texture by the chicken.
The maple butter sauce glazes the top of the chicken perfectly but predictably seems to be butter-flavored pancake syrup or maple-flavored corn syrup. It adds a necessary sweetness and maple flavor that ties the sandwich together. Not using real whipped maple butter seems like a missed opportunity that would have easily elevated the offering. Regardless, there was just the right amount of sauce without turning the waffle soggy and making the whole sandwich a sticky mess.
In my opinion, a plate of chicken and waffles is not complete without hot sauce, so I requested some at the drive-thru window. But despite assurances, I drove off with none in my bag. After evaluating the sandwich on its own merits, I used a cayenne hot sauce I had at home to see how it would fair with the addition. The heat and vinegar paired perfectly with the chicken and waffle sandwich, making me instantly regret already giving the second sandwich to my wife.
Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr. has made the Chicken and Waffle sandwich available all day. It makes a good pairing with your morning coffee or a late night snack to satisfy your sweet and salty cravings. Just be sure to bring a coupon and have your own hot sauce ready.
Purchased Price: 2 for $6 with coupon (regularly $5.99)
Purchased at: Carl’s Jr.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 560 calories (other nutritional numbers weren’t available at time of publication)