Summer Bucket List – Brown Sugar Kitchen in West Oakland


My summer bucket list included taking my children to the much celebrated Brown Sugar Kitchen for breakfast before school started.  My obsession began one chilly December morning when two of my best friends took me there for my birthday.  They insisted I order the fried chicken and waffles, because this is what Brown Sugar is famous for.  I resisted, liking neither waffles nor fried chicken, and having these for breakfast was not going to happen.  I ordered something so totally unmemorable that I honestly can’t remember what it was.  I do, however, remember fondly the fried potatoes that came with it, but that was before I took a bite off the plate of my friend.  Because it was my birthday she politely allowed me to devour her breakfast.   I recall she ordered herself an extra scone and insisted she was stuffed.  Since then, I’ve wanted to return, but week-ends are brutally busy there and at home and soccer practice filled every weekday morning.  Today the clouds parted, the sun came out and we had a free morning.  The only problem was we had some over night guests, so we took them all along on a culinary adventure to West Oakland.

We had a 10 minute wait and then the five of us sat down.  I was definitely with the waffle loving crowd so there was no question – they all wanted waffles, but I had to sell the fried chicken which none of them were interested in until they tasted it.  It was as delicious as remembered.  They soak it in buttermilk, then fry it and then bake it, but what makes it really amazing is the tarragon.  Since December I have used tarragon (dried from Whole Foods) in all the chicken I make.  That and paprika.  Tanyan Holland, the chef and owner studied French cooking and it shows.  She insists that you can use all the fresh ingredients you want, but it’s really all about pumping up the flavor (I read this in the one and only copy of her cookbook, available September 2014, while I waited for my food).  That’s why they call her the Queen of Flavor – I discovered this on her website, Brown Sugar Kitchen, click to read more about Tanya and her new book.  But what is truly amazing is how she has taken this little sliver of West Oakland and turned it into such a cozy, happy, fun and delicious place.

We started with the hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows, the teens spilled one of these  all over the table, floor and each other (note: this required a little extra in the tip department). Then the waffles and fried chicken.  Who knew waffles could taste like this? They are as light as air, but have a fabulous texture.  The service was excellent, the food fabulous and now I love chicken and waffles for breakfast.  It was definitely worth the trip. For reviews and location click

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