Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles Bistro

Written by  //  March 19, 2013  //  FAMILY & LEISURE  // 


By Keith Aikens
Jan 2012
I never got the chicken and waffle thing. Is it a classic food combination like chocolate and peanut butter, PB&J, or shrimp and grits? Not sure. That was my thinking when I went to Gladys Knight’s Chicken and Waffles Bistro in Union City.

Like most folks, I’d been to the original restaurant, so I had a somewhat fixed idea of what to expect. The first thing to know about the Bistro is there are MANY differences from the original. There won’t be a 1-hour wait for a table. There will be much more than Southern classics on the menu. Gentlemen need not remove their hats. What you’ll immediately notice is that the Bistro is located inside a bowling alley. Yes, Gladys’ newest concept caters to the nine pin set. And I’m here to tell you it’s not a bad thing.

This isn’t the Southern genteel restaurant where Big Mama likes to eat. It’s a bistro. That’s French for little place to eat and drink… mostly drink. The menu is a variety of burgers, hot dogs, pizzas, salads, wings, and sandwiches. This is food easy to eat between frames. But true to its namesake, the Bistro menu also includes, thankfully, the same chicken and waffles, omelets, and sides like fried green tomatoes, mac ‘n cheese, and collard greens as the main restaurant. All without the ridiculous wait.

But does the food taste as good? I mean, it’s in a bowling alley. With that in mind, I chose to test them on the items you can find at all Gladys’ locations. When in Rome, right?

I wasn’t disappointed. I’m not a waffle fan, so I won’t speak on that. The chicken was choice. I am very critical of restaurant fried chicken. It usually ends up under-seasoned and bland, or horribly over-seasoned (salted to death). This chicken was perfect with crispy skin and moist and juicy meat.

The chicken omelet, house potatoes and fried green tomatoes were all equally tasty. I wasn’t thrilled with the remoulade for the tomatoes. It tasted too much like Thousand Island dressing. That’s the only demerit I can honestly give. Good food in a bowling alley.

The highlight of the meal – collard green spring rolls. Whodathunkit!? I must learn how to make these at home. The greens were finely chopped, tender and delicious, and deep fried in a crisp spring roll shell. With a little sweet chili sauce for dipping, it made for a great appetizer.  So if consistency is the name of Gladys’ game, she wins. Nothing, food nor service, had a “this is a bowling alley and you get what you get” vibe.

Because of the treatment of its own classics, I would expect the rest of the menu to be just as satisfying. From the adventurous Mac Burger (burger with mac ‘n cheese, chili, onions and turkey bacon), to the more sedate cheese quesadilla, the Bistro can surely satisfy a wide variety of tastes.

The food isn’t the only draw. All the action here happens after work and on the weekend. The lineup of theme nights lets you know that was the intent. I’m surprised it’s open for lunch at all. There is something happening every night of the week. Whether your pleasure is happy hour drink specials, karaoke, classic hip-hop and R&B, poker, brunch or bowling, your good time is probably happening at the Bistro. This is not your mama’s chicken and waffles restaurant. The Bistro is supposed to be a different experience, and it is. You don’t have to bowl if you don’t want to.


Keith_Aikens-new_1Keith Aikens
I’m just a guy sharing food and drink experiences. I’m not a food critic. It’s all about eating, drinking and sharing.Follow me on Twitter – @jkaikens for more of my food adventures.


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