Last month, Jonathan's the Rub introduced a new lunch dish: chicken and waffles. Determined to set its variation apart from all the other chicken and waffles clucking around Houston these days, chef/owner Jonathan Levine added a few of his own twists, starting with something most people don't even think about: actual, honest-to-god maple syrup. Most restaurants these days serve maple-flavored sugar water with their pancakes and waffles, and while—let's be honest—I'm not turning my nose up the fake stuff, having real maple syrup makes a legitimate and uncontested difference. Especially when set against the second deviation from the norm: Levine's addition of Aleppo red pepper flakes throughout.
The heat and the sweetness balance each other out so well that the dish could very well function on its own with just these two counterparts tugging at one another. But Levine amps it up further with the third and final deviation: a layer of creamy cheese grits in between the Belgian waffle and the butterflied, battered, and fried chicken breast on top. There is no flavor or texture wanting in this dish—crunchy, salty, sweet, spicy, creamy, meaty, chewy, yeasty—but it manages to work together in a very well-orchestrated composition that may very well be the apotheosis of chicken and waffles in Houston.
Sure, my description of the food is a little hyperbolic, but this is a dish given to hyperbole. Hell, at $15 a plate for lunch, the price demands hyperbole—and thankfully, Jonathan's the Rub more than delivers. Seriously, eat this now.
Jonathan's the Rub, 9061 Gaylord Dr., 713-465-8200, jonathanstherub.com