So this past summer we finally went to Brown Sugar Kitchen. For politics alone you have to love this place. Former Food Network personality Tanya Holland decided to open a restaurant in West Oakland, showing she has a serious investment in Oakland. It’s paid off for Holland with rapturous praise and big crowds and it’s paid off for the rest of us with great food.
Brown Sugar Kitchen richly deserves the attention it gets. The downside is to get there early because the crowds are thick. One time we went there right after the Check Please, Bay Area episode on it and it was an hour and 45 minute wait. At 8:30 am. When we finally did go, we went at 7:45 am (BSK opens at 7:00 am on every day except for Sunday where it opens at 8:00 am). Sadly, it closes at 3:00 pm so there’s not dinner service. One good thing about BSK is that it has a counter where you can get pastries and coffee while you wait.
Foodwise, the chicken and waffles is the thing to get. It’s like no other chicken and waffle you’ve ever had. The fried chicken is resonant with rosemary and has a nice light crust and the waffle is a cornmeal one that ends up be lighter and crispier than a regular flour waffle. Even better, it comes in with a cider syrup to pour on top. While you can get maple syrup for another $2, the cider syrup is infinitely better. It’s sharp and acidic like a tart apple with all the sweetness of a syrup.
The other menu items are great too, though not as great as the chicken and waffles. Among the standouts are the egg and vegetable tart and anything with grits. On the plus side, the chicken also comes a la carte so you won’t deprive yourself if you get something other than the chicken and waffles.
The service can be a little slow but it’s always friendly. And on top of that, the famous Ms. Holland is actually cooking in the kitchen. Although, I worry for her because she’s got a lot going on. Nevertheless, if you can get there early to avoid the crowds, BSK is well worth it.