Dame’s Chicken & Waffles in downtown Durham has been on the Lunchboy “must-visit” short list for several months, so it was exciting to finally go there and get my fill of one of the most righteous combinations in soul food history.
Let me say up front that Dame’s is in no way, shape or fashion Waffle House meets KFC. In fact, if anything, Dame’s possesses an ultra-cool café vibe. Consider the striking, dark- wood flooring, sleek tables and chairs and—most impressively—the knowledgeable and highly efficient servers.
On the day I visited along with my friend Jay, our exceptional server, Lamont, patiently gave us the lowdown regarding the 10 menu selections and daily specials (shrimp and grits and chicken Caesar salad, as I recall). Decisions, decisions. Would it be "A Quilted Buttercup" (fried chicken cutlet with sweet potato waffles “shmeared” with maple and candied pecans) or "Light Brown Leghorns" (a trio of fried drumsticks paired with a waffle “shmeared” with chocolate hazelnut and warm caramel-cashew sauce)? Shmears, by the way, are made with sweet crème butter.
Meals are served with one side such as scratch-made mac & cheese, collard greens or fresh fruit. It’s also worth mentioning that the coffee is fantastic, but it seems a bit odd to find it located at a self-serve station near the back of the dining room.
The lightly battered chicken is as tender and moist as you’ll find anywhere, while the fluffy, not-too-thick waffles are finessed with precision. Prices range from $9.25 to $12.25 per meal. Don’t’ worry: portions are copious.
Bottom line: Dame’s Chicken & Waffles masters the art of balancing the sweet & savory and easily earns the coveted “Lunchboy Recommends” designation. You owe it to yourself to discover downtown Durham’s newest landmark.