Restaurant of the Week: Maple House

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Maple House Chicken and Waffles, 1520 N. Mountain Ave. (at 6th), Ontario

Chicken and waffles are hard to come by in the 909; I think there used to be a Roscoe’s in San Bernardino, but other than that, the only place I’m aware of is an obscure Pomona restaurant, Day Day’s, which isn’t open for dinner. But now there’s a spot in Ontario.

Maple House opened in March in what had been Sal and Sons Pizza, right off the 10 in the Gateway Center, near Starbucks and a cupcake shop. One of Sal’s sons is still involved, and the interior looks largely the same. But service is now at your table rather than at the counter and the menu, needless to say, is entirely different. (There’s also a patio with umbrellas.)

Have you had chicken and waffles? I have, a couple of times, at the Roscoe’s in Pasadena. The chicken and the waffle are usually plated separately, if you’re curious, and can be eaten separately, with the waffle more of a side dish, or eaten together. They do pair surprisingly well.

A friend and I tried Maple House for dinner recently. They serve several kinds of waffles (with such toppings as bananas, strawberries, pecans and Nutella) and various pieces of chicken, all cooked to order; they also serve omelets, salads, desserts — peach cobbler and sweet potato pie — and beer and wine. Sides include yams, mac and cheese, turkey greens and more. And my friend got a grape Kool-Aid. So it’s a soul food restaurant, and the background music included James Brown, but they’re not quite all-in.

The chicken and waffle dinners came with two sides, which seemed like too much food, so my friend and I ordered a la carte: a waffle each ($4) with a breast for me ($4.35) and a leg ($2.50) and wing ($2.25) for him. We each found that a filling meal.

The chicken coating was crunchy, with excellent texture, and the chicken itself came off the bone easily and tasted great; my friend declared it “awesome,” and as chicken is his favorite meal, that says a lot. The waffles were Belgian, puffier than Roscoe’s, and had powdered sugar too. Roscoe’s is a tradition, the food’s very good and the energy and vibe part of the experience; Maple House doesn’t have that, but the food is arguably just as good, and depending on where you live, it’s probably closer.

Each table, by the way, has a small sign advising that the food is cooked to order and that the chicken “can take up to a minimum of 30 minutes to prepare.” Isn’t “up to a minimum” contradictory? Mixed messages aside, our food came out in about 20 minutes during a slow period. Be prepared to wait a bit, but it’s worth it.

I’m not a guy who wants to order chicken and/or waffles very often, but it’s cool to have a local place, and one with good hours: from 9 a.m. daily, closing at 8 on Sundays, 9 on Mondays to Thursdays and 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

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Update February 2016: Wanting to try more sides, I returned for dinner when hungry, getting a dinner plate with a waffle, chicken breast and two sides: greens and grits ($15). It was hard to get it all into one photo, but I did a better job than above. Excellent meal, and every item was top-notch. Too much food for me to try a dessert.

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Restaurant of the Week: Wahfles

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Wahfles, 1502 Foothill Blvd. (at Wheeler), La Verne; also 5751 N. Pine Ave. (at Butterfield), Chino Hills

My colleague Pete Marshall alerted me to the existence of Wahfles, a dessert and coffee house in La Verne, which opened in February. It turns out the original opened a year ago in Chino Hills. It’s a mom-and-pop. One recent morning I ventured to the La Verne location, which is in the Vons center, for breakfast.

Well, it’s not really a breakfast spot. (It’s no Waffle House.) They have some lunch waffle sandwiches and dessert waffles. Other than a coffee bar, the only thing that works for breakfast is one waffle. I had that: the Breakfast Sammy ($4.45), with ham, Swiss, fried egg, mayo and honey mustard. It was cut in half and could be eaten like a sandwich. And was. Very good.

I liked the vibe of the place: dark wood tables, rugs, some leather chairs, a sofa, a coffee table, magazines to read and locally produced art on the walls. So I returned one afternoon for a dessert waffle, the kind that make up the rest of the menu.

Mine had speculoos (described as “cookie butter” — what’s not to like?), bananas, ice cream, whipped cream and cinnamon sugar ($4.45 for a half, $5.95 for a full; I got the half). Delicious. Rather than get a fancy beverage, I cheaped out with a free water from a dispenser on the counter.

Wahfles (there’s an umlaut over the “a,” incidentally) is a neat addition to the area. Their website has a menu.

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Restaurant of the Week: Bruxie

Bruxie Gourmet Waffle Sandwiches, 13865 City Center Drive (in the Shoppes), Chino Hills

Waffles are tasty for breakfast, and as any Roscoe’s admirer can tell you they pair perfectly with fried chicken, but do they make a good bread substitute for sandwiches? Bruxie, which is based in Orange County, thinks so. Expanding northward from its locations in Rancho Santa Margarita, Orange and Brea, they opened last December in Chino Hills, taking over a Johnny Rockets that had just closed in the Shoppes outdoor mall.

The joint was jumping on a recent weekday lunch. Occupying a corner spot, Bruxie has a wraparound patio and, because it was a warm day, had opened the rollup doors that separate the patio from the dining room, turning the whole restaurant into an open-air environment. (There were heat lamps operating on the patio.)

A friend who’d already eaten there twice met me. The menu has savory waffle sandwiches, sweet waffle desserts, salads, coffee and frozen custard, a Midwestern treat that is rare out here. For the uninitiated, it’s essentially ice cream that’s made with egg yolks. (The Bruxie website has an amusing and informative FAQ section, by the way.)

A greeter explains the concept for first-timers, a nice touch for a restaurant where you order at the counter. She described the waffles as light and crisp, much like toast, which proved true. Overhearing us discuss frozen custard while in line, small samples were profferred. That spared us from having to order that on top of the dessert waffle we wanted to try.

We shared a tuna melt with waffle fries ($10.45 as a combo), a chicken-and-waffle sandwich ($7) and a creme brulee waffle ($6.50). I preferred the chicken and waffle, a boneless, breaded piece of chicken inside a wraparound waffle. (You can get syrup for $1 but we didn’t.) My friend liked the tuna melt better, commenting on the tuna’s seasoning. To me, a connoisseur of the tuna melt, it was tasty but more like tuna salad and a waffle rather than melding into a unit. We liked the dessert waffle best, filled with strawberries and bananas and dusted with powdered sugar.

The meal was light and fun, as was the experience. I also had a root beer made with cane sugar ($2.50), like the rest of the sodas. I will definitely go back, especially for the frozen custard. No waffling on that.

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