No one ever talks about east Raleigh, as if it were an empty space between downtown and Knightdale, or the town in Under the Dome. For most downtown residents, anywhere beyond the Cook Out on New Bern Ave. for a post-bender shake is pretty much “Durham”. But I’ve always wondered, what exactly is out there? In an age where you can find limitless information about pretty much anything, what do you do when Google can’t help you? Go do it your damn self, I figured.
Chicken and Waffles
I noticed the red glowing letters of Mr. Wonderful’s Chicken and Waffles while driving down US-64. Immediately drawn in by the glow of the sign, I was disappointed to find newspaper covering the windows while the restaurant was still under construction. Google and Twitter did not offer much help, but a barebones and somewhat shady site about their original restaurant in Cleveland shed light on the elusive Mr Wonderful's. To my delight, the restaurant was much nicer than the website led me to believe, with clean lines, bright colors, and a large space.
Once seated I gazed over the menu, as long as War and Peace. With tons of different sections and tons of different dishes to choose from, I figured I’d try out the Soul Rolls. Unfortunately, they weren't available that day.
Mac & Cheese
As a substitute, I asked for mac and cheese. I figured if any place could make a quality mac and cheese it would be a soul food place. Instead of a gooey and cheesy dish of mac and cheese, I got a lukewarm, clumpy, over peppered bowl of mush.
After struggling my way through a disappointing mac and cheese, I finally started to dig into the one thing I came to Mr. Wonderful’s to eat: chicken & waffles. The chicken was lightly coated and came out scorching hot. Nicely seasoned, crispy, and juicy, the bird did not disappoint. Mr. Wonderful's doesn’t have a collection of smears or fancy syrups, but instead provides a big jug of maple syrup to drizzle over the dish. Surprisingly, to me at least, the waffle was very nutmeg and cinnamon forward. The spice wasn’t heavy, just the first thing I noticed. The waffle was dense but soft and tender on the inside. The combination of chicken, waffle, and syrup hit that perfect equilibrium of savory, sweet, and salty.
It might not have an all-star chef behind it, it might not be in a thriving downtown, or even on a side of town that you frequent, but Mr. Wonderful's sure is tasty.
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