Continuing with the thought of fried chicken and waffles in honor of National Fried Chicken Day, I now take you down south to a waffle purveyor in Orange County. Nestled in between boutique shops and an indoor mini mall with food related retail is The Iron Press. The supposed restaurant seems more to me like a waffle bar or delicatessen rather than just a restaurant. It is a simple and modern space with an open kitchen where the masters of the presses whip up wondrous waffles while the wistful waiting watch with their wandering eyes.
The chicken and waffles was quite simple... almost minimalist even. The buttermilk fried chicken breast was sandwiched between golden brown waffles and served with a jalapeño maple syrup. The cole slaw that I had thought would come as a side was actually already inside the sandwich. The chicken was not the least bit greasy, and the cole slaw was prepared without mayonnaise. And although that may be good news for the health conscious, it may have been too progressive for me. The maple syrup was neither spicy enough nor sweet enough. In the world of Real Housewives, this was so very Orange County. Atlanta Housewives has the drama of untouchable egos, extramarital affairs and extremely low blows. Like Honey's Kettle Fried Chicken, it's a little dirty and such a guilty pleasure. Beverly Hills Housewives has the drama of mo' money mo' problems... bling, bling, bling. Like the ad hoc fried chicken from Bouchon, it's elegant, rich, and classy... but when you're immersed in the middle of it, it oozes bits of naughty pleasure as well. OC Housewives, on the other hand, revolves around unconfirmed dirty looks and eating cake that isn't yours. And like the chicken from The Iron Press, there's just not enough drama. I ordered a side of bacon just so I could have that greasy, salty taste that I so desperately desired.
What made more of an impression on me was the burger. With fresh ground rib eye and the bite of raw red onions, the burger waffle had much more oomph than the chicken. The combination of juicy meat and ooey gooey cheese helped create the hearty quality of comfort food. There is more of an emotional attachment that keeps 'em coming back for more... much like a trashy episode of Atlanta or Beverly Hills Housewives. I wanted oil. I wanted salt. I wanted to say ooooh, that's good. And I got it from the burger and waffle fries. Oh, the waffle fries and the accompanying garlic aioli were ooooh, so good.
There are many more items on the menu, including the ham and smoked gouda waffle, the bratwurst waffle, the breakfast waffle sandwich, dessert waffles and the Guinness ice cream float... all of which have descriptions that preview a bit of tasty drama for the next visit to The Iron Press. On the backs of the shirts that the staff wear, the Iron Press proudly exclaims, "WE LIKE BEER & WAFFLES." Well, so do I. Until the next time, let's all get S.O.F.A.T.
ML - 20120828/20120527