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Sweet & savory: Chicken and waffles at Brixens among the best you’ll ever taste

Brixens will celebrate its first anniversary in July, and to help it mark the occasion, try the restaurant’s chicken and waffles, some of the best and most filling you will ever have.

The dish has become a staple on menus, and getting it right is probably a little harder than it seems.

But the version from Brixens, an upscale restaurant and bar in the heart of Downtown, makes it look easy.

Stylishly plated and explosively flavorful, this version of chicken and waffles is one of the best I’ve had. I probably didn’t need to order the hummus and olives appetizer ($10), a large plate with red chile hummus and feta cheese, served with a basket of garlic toast and two types of olives, one marinated and sprinkled with chile flakes and the other breaded and deep-fried and piping-hot.

The hummus & olives appetizer at Brixens comes with Red chile white wine hummus, olive oil and balsamic reduction, feta, rosemary flatbread and fried olives. (Jason K. Watkins/For The Journal)

I’m glad I ordered the appetizer, though. The olives were delicious. Even the hummus was incredibly fresh and tasty, just another layer of flavors in an already satisfying meal.

As close to perfect as it was, though, the entree was more complicated than it needed to be. The flavors asserted themselves so much that the garnish – jalapeños and onions that were marinated or pickled and then sprinkled around the plate – probably wasn’t necessary. It added a nice aesthetic to the plate, but it had the potential of muddling the flavors, which were very good.

Despite the sensory overload, the dish was a monumental serving of protein and flavor, enough for two people (and/or for leftovers). The price, $20, was fair, considering the freshness and originality and sheer calories on the plate.

The chicken breasts are cut into roughly 2-inch squares, but when I saw a plate go by with two sliders using the same chicken, it dawned on me that these morsels are Brixens’ secret weapon. With a recipe this good, why not maximize their usage?

They’re spicy, too.

If you have a mild palette, this chicken and waffles dish will get your attention. The breasts are soaked in beer and rubbed with chile and then breaded. The spice is well-balanced with sweetness, though, both from the breading and the waffles, and savory from melted cheese and cornbread. Then, as if the combination weren’t good enough, Brixens stuffs a crispy strip of apple-wood-smoked bacon between each layer of chicken and waffle.

Not the healthiest dish, but if you want to live large, this is the right kind of fuel for it.

The fried chicken and green chile cornbread waffles could not have been more flavorful or a better combination of savory, sweet and spicy. Green chile, cornbread, cheese, red chile, bacon and chicken, it turns out, are like a spell from a food alchemist’s recipe book.

The atmosphere is magical, too. The restaurant, with high ceilings and full-length windows, is housed in an old corner spot looking out at Central. The interior is one of the most fashion-forward spaces in town, and one of the most modern: Brixens’ menu is presented on individual iPads for each guest, the wait staff is uniformly young and hip, marquis letters hang all over the place, an open bar sits in the middle of the room and mixes fancy cocktails.

My waitress, Courtney, had a permanent smile, and she made me feel like a friend visiting for lunch. Even though most tables were occupied on a recent Sunday (the restaurant has all-day happy hour on Sundays), the service was nothing but attentive and warm.

Central Avenue near Downtown has a lot to offer, and it ranges from high quality to kind of dubious, but Brixens is near the top, maybe the very top. It’s formal enough for an evening with someone important, but it’s accessible enough for lunch with a co-worker or a quick bite by yourself.

If you have a foodie in your life or a visitor in town, if you’re celebrating an anniversary, or if you want to watch news channels on big-screen TVs, you should try this place.



Suggested on ABQjournal