Every time we head out to visit the extended family in Michigan, one of our traditions is to take a morning and go out to lunch with Carol’s father, which usually means a chance to explore a different breakfast place in the western suburbs (for example, this is why we visited Bode’s a few years ago. Over the last several visits, I had noticed that one place in Plymouth was routinely getting fairly busy, including occasional lines out the door, and I decided that on my next visit, we’d take Carol’s father there: the Omelette and Waffle Cafe.
Okay, I’m going to start out by saying that this review is of a place that’s not particularly offbeat or unique. You see, pretty much any place you go in Belgium, you can count on three things being widely available: beer, frites, and Gaufres de Liege, aka the Belgian Waffle. Doing a simple walking tour of Brussels, I passed approximately two dozen storefronts, carts, and food trucks selling freshly made Gaufres de Liege, and by the time we got to Square de Meeûs, the nice aromas of freshly-baked waffles had finally defeated me, and I had to stop at Pascalino’s Glaces et Gaufres for a waffle.
I’ll admit I’ve got a love for real Belgian waffles. But one of the major problems I’ve had is that you can’t get a proper Belgian waffle here in the US. Sure, a rather large fraction of the breakfast places here will serve you something called a “Belgian waffle”, but what you are getting is really just a regular ole American waffle made in a waffle iron with bigger crenelations, usually served up with a small mountain of fruit (or fruit-like “pie topping”) and whipped cream. Not that there is anything wrong with that, heck, I like a good waffle, and even own an American-style “Belgian” waffle maker myself that gets used several times a month. But a real Belgian Waffle is a different beast. A proper Belgian waffle (also known as a Liège waffle, from the Eastern Belgium city of the same name) is a distinctly more refined item. First of all, it’s not made in a round iron, but a large rectangular iron with an open grid crenelations. A large lump of raised, yeasted batter is dumped right on the surface and the iron closes around it, allowing the lump to spread out into whatever globular shape it wants. The batter also has a bunch of pearl sugar crystals mixed into it, the idea being that as the waffles cook in the iron, the sugar crystals melt, resulting in a rich, crunchy, and caramelized exterior. The result is a nice hot treat that’s a noticeable leg up above the normal “Belgian waffle”, with a nice buttery interior, a yeasty taste, and a nice crunchy exterior. Well, it turns out that many food trucks of the Boardwalk on Bulverde that night included one that makes… proper Belgian waffles. The Begian Waffle Co is a nice, shiny, new food truck run by a pair of pleasant Belgians, offering up a menu of waffles. They start with three types of waffles: their original “Waffle de Liége”, as well as cinnamon and chocolate variants. They then offer up a rather impressive list of toppings: whipped cream, powdered sugar, and butter are free, while various modest surcharges will get you toppings ranging from fresh fruit, to Nutella, to peanut butter, to a variety of savory toppings (eggs, cheese, and ham, for example).
One of the things that amazes me about Washington, DC, is that several of the tourist trap food spots seem to have remained almost unchanged since my earliest visits to DC as a child back around the Bicentennial. There are still the food carts next to the American History museum and the Air and Space museum hawking some really dubious looking egg rolls. The exit of the Federal Triangle Metro station still seems to have one of the worst, and most expensive, hot dog stands in the district. Tony Cheng’s in Chinatown is still churning out dubious “Mongolian” food. And the block across the street from Ford’s Theater is chock full of touristy t-shirt shops, souvenir stands, and odd restaurants. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was only April 15, 1865 when the first entrepreneur set up a souvenir stand. But, for as long as I can remember, there’s always been a Waffle Shop across the street from Ford’s Theater.
On weekend and vacation mornings, I really enjoy relaxing with a cup of coffee and the newspaper, and have a nice sweet breakfast, such as pancakes, waffles, or maybe a sweetroll or something. Unfortunately, this sort of thing can be a little difficult when you happen to be in New York City. Luckily, about 18 months ago my sister-in-law introduced me to Le Pain Quotidien (“The Daily Bread”).