EDITOR'S NOTE: Today the Times Free Press' staff writers begin a series of articles on their favorite places to go for breakfast as well as some breakfast offerings with which you might not be familiar.
I've driven by Maple Street Biscuit Company, located in the Gunbarrel Road Walmart shopping center, innumerable times, but never stopped. Primarily because it closes early-afternoon when I'm still at work, and also I'm just not one for big breakfasts.
But when I read that one of its dishes had been featured a few years ago on Food Network's "Guilty Pleasures" — referred by Food Network star Amanda Freitag, no less — I took notice. Chef Freitag had stopped in a Maple Street Biscuit and tried the Squawking Goat biscuit and chicken. If that foodie thought it was fabulous, it was worth checking out.
If you go
› Where: Maple Street Biscuit Company, 2114 Gunbarrel Road
› Hours: 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.- 3 p.m. Saturday
› Prices: $2-$12
› Phone: 423-713-9368
› Online: https://maplestreetbiscuits.com/our-menu-2
Maple Street Biscuit is one large room in the ever-present modern industrial style: concrete floors, open ceiling, exposed duct work, numerous strips of pendant lights and wood-top tables with metal stools and chairs. A large wood-framed counter runs the length of the left wall, outlining the kitchen workspace, and that's where you place your order.
I am a sucker for creativity and appreciate a good gimmick. Maple Street has one of the best I've seen lately at a restaurant: When you place your order, the cashier asks "the question of the day." Your answer is what will be called out when your order is ready for pickup.
For example, the question of the day on my visit was: If you could be an expert in one thing, what would it be? I knew my order was up when I heard "Technology" called by the manager. It's a lighthearted, humorous way to start the morning as you hear "OJ for Musician," "Fishing order" and a variety of conversation-starting answers called.
Choose your answer wisely because, trust me, with that high ceiling and concrete floor bouncing sound, everyone will hear your order when it's called.
Maple Street Biscuit Company bills itself as "comfort food with a modern twist."
Its menu is predominantly biscuits and fried chicken ($6-$10) and biscuits with gravy ($6-$8). There are three waffles on the menu ($8, $9 and $12) including the tempting "Bam!" It's a vanilla waffle with asiago cheese and pecanwood-smoked bacon baked in the batter, topped with honey butter and Bissell Family Farms maple syrup.
Oatmeal, grits or eggs in a tomato-based sauce are the three bowl choices ($6, $8 and $10, respectively) and there are three kids meals, all $5.50.
I had to try the dish that could make it onto Food Network, and the Squawking Goat ($9) was indeed a guilty pleasure.
A plump chicken breast about the size of a chicken thigh was lightly breaded and fried, topped with a seasoned and fried medallion of goat cheese that was about the same diameter as the biscuit in which it was served.
I appreciated that the breading was done lightly, which made chicken much more palatable for an early morning meal, and the meat was moist and flavorful. But it was the house-made pepper jelly that really made this dish memorable. Each bite started with a sweet tanginess and finished with a touch of heat, but not enough to make me reach for my fresh-squeezed orange juice to cool it down.
Since the biscuit was a little on the dense side, I used that pepper jelly to moisten every bite. It was delicious. All Maple Biscuit's sausage gravies, jams and jellies are made in-house and biscuits are made every morning using winter wheat flour.
It is all self-serve. However, I appreciated that the store manager was out on the floor the entire time I was dining. He stopped at every table, welcomed guests, asked if diners had questions, answered questions, wiped down tables and made himself readily available to customers.
Chicken for breakfast is rare for me because it's just too heavy for my preference, but I'd return for the Squawking Goat as a late-morning brunch or lunch. However, that "Bam!" waffle with asiago cheese is still calling my name.
Contact Susan Pierce at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6284.