Cary, N.C. — I was born in Cary. I lived, played, worked and went to school in Cary for the greater bit of my life. I've watched it grow, (tripling in size!) since my youth.
Downtown Cary is and has been going through a huge renaissance and, suddenly, bottle shops, breweries, boutiques and coffee shops want to land in downtown and stay there. Food trucks park in downtown Cary monthly, sometimes weekly, and people in their 20s want to spend their weekend nights there.
So, needless to say, I was thrilled for my not-so-small-anymore town when I heard that Dame's, a hip chicken and waffles restaurant, was opening on Harrison Avenue, just minutes from my other downtown Cary hangouts.
I knew Dame's would bring something different to Cary -- and I was right. The experience of eating at Dame's feels very "food trucky," and that's because of the odd -- but tasty -- spins that are put on a delicious, southern staple. It's like "urban" comfort food, if that makes sense.
Since this was my first time visiting Dame's, I knew I had to get chicken and waffles. I say this because, to my surprise, there were plenty of other foods on the menu -- like shrimp and grits, egg plates and salads. I opted for a single waffle topped with a fried chicken cutlet and strawberry-creme shmear. My friend tried the shrimp and grits loaded with spices and chicken sausage.
What is this shmear? It's one of the things that makes Dame's special -- the restaurant serves several flavors of shmears, including chocolate-hazelnut, maple-pecan, baby-blueberry, vanilla-almond, orange-honeycomb, peach-apricot and, of course, the one I picked. The shmears come in little dishes beside your waffle, and you treat them like butter. I tried eating my chicken and waffle with just the shmear but reached for the maple syrup to give it even more flavor.
It was delicious. My friend loved his shrimp and grits, too, but I wouldn't recommend them for people who can't handle a lot of flavor.
Next time, I want to try the blueberry shmear (can you tell I like fruit?) on top of the blueberry waffle. Oh, yeah -- in addition to the shmears, Dame's has several different waffle varieties like sweet potato, vegan and gingerbread. The waffles are soft, not crispy, which I liked a lot.
I can't really attest to the other items on the menu, since I haven't tried them, but Dame's is definitely a fun place to go for brunch if you're looking to try something new.
Dame's has two other locations in the area -- in downtown Durham and in Greensboro -- if you'd like to try it too. One thing to keep in mind -- despite the "waffle," Dame's operates more as a brunch spot than as a breakfast spot. Dame's in Durham is open by 10 a.m. on weekdays, and the Cary location didn't open until 11. So don't be like me and show up too early!