At Captain Blacks, those who aren't eating chicken and waffles are talking about chicken and waffles. The topic at one table is Roscoe's House of Chicken 'n' Waffles in Los Angeles; at another, a debate about chicken-and-waffles-as-concept is under way. Is it an unholy alliance of breakfast and nonbreakfast that appalls the mind and senses? Or is it a logical—some might say vast—improvement on your customary savory waffle accompaniments (e.g., bacon and sausage)?
The origin is ambiguous. According to the great brain of Wikipedia, Thomas Jefferson imported the waffle iron from France; chicken and waffles happened sometime between then and 1938, when Wells Supper Club, the first documented Home of Chicken and Waffles, opened in Harlem. (Wells served it as a late-night compromise between dinner and breakfast.) It may or may not be Southern; it's made its way around the country slowly and spottily. (Gladys Knight's chain, started in 1997, is only in Georgia and Maryland.)
Captain Blacks is on Capitol Hill in that odd little house on Belmont where the Healthy Hedon (vegetarian, worst name ever) failed to thrive. It's got two decks, few frills, a minimal nautical theme. The namesake is a pipe tobacco; the missing apostrophe, an aesthetic choice. While people are going bananas about the celebration of batter, bird, and grease now available at Captain Blacks, chicken and waffles are not new to Seattle. The Kick N Chicken Waffle House on Rainier appears to have closed, but the excellent Silver Fork diner serves both dishes, and no one looks at you funny for ordering them together. In the upscale department, both Spring Hill and the Kingfish Cafe have chicken and waffles at brunch.
Captain Blacks' waffle is thin and crispy, folded into a half-circle with citrus-laced butter inside; the chicken is kosher breast, crispy-fried to a darker shade than normal and sliced; the syrup is real. The meat is slightly on the dry side, and the all-white bonelessness will disappoint those who favor fried chicken that requires diligence and a stack of napkins. The price—$11—reflects that this is food-as-trend, brought to the Hill with a convenience fee attached.
Is it worth it? So far, the consensus seems to be yes. Elsewhere on the menu, an $11 oyster po' boy is quite good, with the right amount of cornmeal in the oysters' breading; macaroni and cheese ($6) has such a thick blanket of the latter on top that the former ends up swimming in oil. While salad is available, no one's eating it, and most of the food here glistens: beer-battered onion rings ($5), deep-fried Beecher's cheese curds ($6). (An off-menu special: a waffle with a scoop of Molly Moon's vanilla ice cream, aka the Molly Rogers.) Eat a lot and risk a food coma; eat often and answer to your arteries.