The Pasadena location of Roscoe's is situated in an old Pizza Hut that has been painted white but retains its unmistakable architecture. Inside, Roscoe's also appears to have retained Pizza Hut's decor of exposed brick and wooden curlicue chairs. Directly next door is a relatively new KFC. The smells from the dueling fried chicken establishments intermingle outside, and the two buildings are separated only by their cramped parking lots and a low masonry wall. Yes, Roscoe's has its own, free parking lot! Since it's not in trendy Old Town, patrons don't have to worry about parking garages or street parking.
The main draw, of course, is the food, not the ambiance. Roscoe's serves fried chicken and waffles--a combination that originated in Harlem--and a variety of Southern side dishes, including mac and cheese, collard greens, cornbread, and red beans and rice. Everything can be ordered a la carte, but each side costs around $3 or $4, so you can rack up a bill pretty quickly ordering this way. You can also order a variety of preselected combinations of chicken, waffles, and side dishes from the main menu.
The delectable waffles are made fresh from a house batter and served with a generous dollop of whipped butter. The fried chicken breast was crispy and perfectly good, but not so amazing that I would need to eat it again (be aware that the breast is neither boneless nor skinless). It wasn't dry, but it wasn't juicy, either. I confess that the thrill of eating fried chicken and waffles together seems to be lost on me, except that it creates a great excuse to dip salty chicken into sweet maple syrup. If I went back, I might try a wing or a thigh and/or the gravy-smothered chicken.
Collard greens are one of my favorite vegetables, but Scoe's greens were disappointing. For the price, I expected more than a watery, overly stewed, small bowl of plain greens. They were a little more interesting after adding hot sauce, but nothing like the collard greens at the Gumbo Pot at the LA Farmer's Market, or even like the ones I make myself. The cornbread was similarly lackluster. The baked mac and cheese was pleasantly tangy and salty and tasted like it was made from at least two different cheeses. The off-white plastic plates and bowls reminded me of those old-school cafeteria-style restaurants like Picadilly and Luby's that are scattered across the South.
Overall, I enjoyed my meal, especially my waffle, though I felt that my meal cost a few more dollars than it probably should have. Even average quality comfort food is still comforting. I would gladly eat at Roscoe's again, but I would probably not specifically seek it out unless I had a waffle craving. If I had a particular craving for Southern food, I would go somewhere else.
Roscoe's House of Chicken'n Waffles
830 N Lake Ave
Pasadena, CA 91104