Strange but true: lots of people who order the chicken and waffles, by far the most popular menu item on Sage's current brunch menu, ask how they came up with such a crazy combination, says general manager Nicki Lawson. Well, they didn't.

Strange but true: lots of people who order the chicken and waffles, by far the most popular menu item on Sage's current brunch menu, ask how they came up with such a crazy combination, says general manager Nicki Lawson. Well, they didn't.

Chicken and waffles is a soul food classic that's been around for ages-even long before it entered the pop-culture lexicon thanks to celebrity favorite Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles in Los Angeles.

It's a carbo-licious dish that hits that sugary-salty-savory sweet spot, and while it can be as simple as fried chicken served atop regular old breakfast waffles, plenty of chefs take the liberty of adding their own special touches. So which is more satisfying, down-home style or upscale?

Upscale

Sage American Bistro

2653 N. High St., North Campus

The chicken: A Southern-style buttermilk fried chicken breast feels even meatier thanks to a sprinkling of spicy-sweet pecans.

The waffles: The made-in-house Belgian-style waffle has a perfectly crisp exterior and nice big crevices for catching maple syrup.

The best part: The kicker is a heavy drizzle of an aioli made in-house with Frank's Red Hot. I wanted to buy a jar of the stuff, stash it in my purse and use it on everything I eat.

Down-home

Boujhetto's

2458 Cleveland Ave., Linden

The chicken: This soul food spot serves a traditional take reminiscent of Linden Cafe's, another favorite neighborhood restaurant that recently closed its doors. Here, you get several meaty deep-fried mini drumsticks.

The waffles: A single fluffy waffle. It's the kind you remember from childhood-if your mom was the type to pull out the waffle iron on occasion.

The best part: The real reason to seek out this relatively obscure Cleveland Avenue storefront is for the feel-good factor: its proceeds go toward helping victims of human trafficking.

Winner: Sage

Plus!

Two more places to find chicken & waffles

Hang Over Easy

1646 Neil Ave., Campus

The diner on OSU's campus serves a pretty plate of fluffy waffle triangles interspersed with extra-crispy planks of white-meat chicken. They're all smothered in an excellent maple glaze spiked with Frank's Red Hot.

Kitchen Little

59 Spruce St., Arena District

The little restaurantlet attached to North Market Poultry and Game serves chicken and waffles most days, combining waffles from across-the-aisle merchant Taste of Belgium with their own juicy breaded chicken breasts.