Taste | Maple House Chicken and Waffles
By: Chef Alex Rivas
I think that one thing the Inland Empire is missing is a little soul, so when I heard I had my next Taste endeavor at Maple House Chicken and Waffles in Ontario, I was eager to learn more about this new establishment.
This little new gem is located near the corner of Mountain Ave and 6th Street, right across from the movie theater. I saw many waffles and movies in the near future. Now I couldn’t find a website, but found some great reviews about Maple House before my visit. I was happy to hear that they don’t label themselves as fast food and that items are made fresh daily. So you know you’re going to wait a bit for amazing food.
I arrived at Maple House and right away was greeted soulfully by Elizabeth or “Ms. Liz” as most friends, frequent customers and staff call her. She had a bubbly personality and is one of the partners of the establishment. She gave a little insight about how Maple House came to be, as well as recommendations for what to try on the menu. She had her hands tied up helping customers but she quickly introduced and left us with Troy McSwain, a business partner who had a large hand in creating Maple Waffle house what it is today.
From the start of our conversation you can tell how passionate Troy is about his recipes, which he learned growing up. Even with finding the best natural chicken to the way they marinate it overnight with his special spice blend, Troy explained that between both him and Vinny Ancona (another owner), they learned and found a system that has made Maple House a success.
Just hearing how Troy was so passionate about his recipes, it made me hungry—I was ready to dive in and see what Maple House had to offer. I started out with the Grilled Chicken Salad, it was fresh, simple, and the chicken breast was cooked beautifully—still moist with the taste of the special seasoning shining through. It paired nicely with Vinny’s homemade ranch dressing, which was creamy and made perfectly.
I followed with the Apple Nut Salad, which to me was one of my favorite dishes; it was paired with the pesto dressing Vinny makes. The salad comes with a blend of sweet and pungent items like sliced apples, dried cranberries, candied pecans and crumbled blue cheese. However, what is still lingering on my palate are the deliciously homemade candied pecans. It’s nice to see that more restaurants are taking the time to make almost everything from scratch, as Maple House makes just about 99% of the items from scratch.
Next, I made my way to the Chicken Dinner Meal; I was so excited like a kid at a candy store, only that it was fried chicken, which happens to be one of my favorite meals of all time. I had the pleasure of tasting a piece of breast and thigh—both did not disappoint. You can tell right away that it is made to order, meaning it’s not made in large batches and kept warm. How can you tell? From its crisp well-seasoned skin, rendered of excess fat, this can be seen as a hallmark of well-made fried chicken. Once you bite into it, you taste all the beautiful spices that you smell coming from it, and the meat is moist, fresh and hot out the fryer.
As good as the chicken was, it didn’t come alone. Ms. Liz recommended trying a few of the side dishes, so I couldn’t just dive in and order a bucket of chicken this time around. With so many options, I chose to try some of the most popular side dishes, even though I couldn’t stop looking at my chicken. I didn’t know how I was going to try so many side dishes, as they came in eight ounce portions. I knew I was going to have to pace myself this time around.
Starting out with the Mac & Cheese, it was deliciously executed. Maple House makes you think they made it fresh just for you, as they bake it a little like lasagna so that you get a nice silky, cheesy dish. Next I dove in to Troy’s old family recipe of Turkey Greens, you can tell that they take the time to hand tear the greens and cook them to perfection. They come with a little heat but are not overbearing, just enough to compliment the bitter taste of the greens.
I followed with the Red Beans & Rice, which had a resemblance to the rice and beans I use to have when I was child, so it brought back some good old memories. They also had a little bit of heat but nothing too powerful—they had a nice seasoning and were very enjoyable on their own. Last but not least was the Yams side, which to me is one side dish that never fails to surprise me with its sweet taste. Yams are naturally sweet so when you add a little brown sugar and cinnamon, it’s like you never had to wait for dessert—it already came with your meal! And at Maple House it’s loaded nicely with cinnamon and tastes amazing.
Even though I love yams and enjoyed them, it wouldn’t be right to leave without trying the waffles. I mean it is part of the name, Maple House Chicken and Waffles carries a great assortment of different add ons for your waffles. From sliced bananas to a scoop of vanilla ice cream, whoever said breakfast couldn’t be enjoyed as dessert was completely wrong.
Ms. Liz fixed up a couple different waffles with add ons for us to enjoy. She started with Sal’s Maple House Original with sliced strawberries. It was cooked perfectly and was complemented with the maple syrup and the house whipped maple butter. The second original came with the fantastic homemade candied pecans and caramel, it didn’t need anything else on it. It made me think about retiring my old waffle maker I use to make my kids and nephew waffles at home.
Last but not forgotten was Liz’s Luscious Red Velvet Waffle. Now, I haven’t seen any other places move away from the original style of chicken and waffles but Maple House has created a really special blend that makes it work. I think of all the items I was pleasantly surprised how nice the red velvet mix came out and paired nicely with the Maple House Signature Frosting.
Now Maple House Chicken and Waffles may have a small menu, but they do it right. With fresh ingredients and food made to order, I can see why they have had good success even though they have only been open such a short time. The three partners running it have taken the time to bring some soulful joy to the Inland Empire. With goals of expanding the menu in the future with more soul food, I see them becoming a well-known location for many years to come. Staying traditional but also venturing a little out, it’s exciting to see what lands next on menu in the coming future. For now, expect to find me eating a bucket of fresh fried chicken and Liz’s Luscious Red Velvet Waffle.
Maple House Chicken and Waffles is located at 1520 North Mountain Avenue, Suite A101 in Ontario. To find out more information, please call (909) 984-2300 or visit their Facebook.
Full Disclosure: The dining experience was provided complimentary by Maple House Chicken and Waffles, however all opinions are 100% our own.