What exactly makes a waffle… a waffle?
Belgians do it sweet, with sugar in the dough. Americans do it batter-based, loaded up with fried chicken or with syrup on top. It can be a breakfast, a snack, a dessert, or even a savory entrée.
There’s also a little team of chefs and restauranteurs out of Southern California that have started to do waffles as a sandwich. I recently sat down with Bruxie‘s Matt and Jeff to talk about the (re)-rise of the Belgian street treat and the little waffle stand that took Los Angeles by storm.
Belgian Traditions Meet American Traditions
In Belgium, the waffle is definitely a street food, prepared in open air carts and handed off to be eaten hand-held on the road. So what more perfect match for the waffle than the sandwich – the ultimate American hand-held cuisine? But the traditional waffle needed a few alterations to fit into this American format.
“I think the first hesitation for a person when they think about a waffle sandwich is that they imagine these huge, high-density, high-calorie waffles made with pancake batter. Bruxie sandwich waffles are thin, and the batter is much lighter,” remarked Jeff Goodman, Partner at Denver’s Bruxie location opening this week.
LA food bloggers have likened the Bruxie waffle to fresh baked bread, light and fluffy with that classic crisp.
Along with 3 distinct waffle batters and doughs for different menu items, Bruxie developed some custom waffle irons to make their waffle bases work like a sandwich. A perforation down the diameter allows you to fold the waffle in half, carrying its contents easily in what they call, “the bold fold.”
This easy quality to the sandwich is no doubt part of what made it such a hit in laid-back SoCal and part of what makes a Denver location a no-brainer spin off.
Although the menu carries sweet options like S’mores and Banana Cream Pie, don’t expect a sugar coma after your Bruxie meal, adds Jeff.
“I think one of the reasons people took to the Southern California locations was because of the restraint in our recipes. People have done waffles before, but even Bruxie’s dessert waffles don’t overwhelm you with sugar. We’ve learned from classic French desserts. People love them because they’re very balanced and leave you wanting more.”
The refined recipes are part of the reason Bruxie’s founder asked his long-time colleague Matt Stein to help bring the restaurant to Denver.
“The recipes are pretty intensive and require a lot of hands-on leadership in the kitchen,” added Matt. When Dean made the decision to open in a new city, he needed someone he could trust. “It’s a very hands on concept. We do lots of cooking and prep work, even braising meats and making marshmallow in-house.”
This is definitely a foodie’s sandwich shop.
Is the Waffle Next in Line for U.S. Sweets Mania?
With dessert hybrids like the cronut making national foodie-fame, what does the future hold for a waffle hybrid? Should we expect a a Waff-nut or a Cro-ffle from Bruxie?
Nothing is planned. “There’s a magic in those dishes you can’t really plan for,” Jeff chimes in, remarking how Dominic Ansel had been experimenting with madeleines made-to-order before the cronut hit the target.
“I do think there are some trends to be seen, though,” added Matt. “Think about Voodoo and the popularity surrounding that maple bacon flavor. We’ve got these little bottles of pure Vermont maple syrup you can add to your waffle, and I can see that maple trend making its own kind of mark.”
There’s also a certain amount of local influence. Both Colorado residents, Matt and Jeff plan to add some regional touches to their menu, which is otherwise consistent with the SoCal locations. Some of this is just a result of their commitment to local, seasonal product and Colorado’s differing availability from California, but there are some planned new dishes as well.
“We’ve been working on a Waffle-Fry poutine,” Jeff tells me eagerly, knowing my affinity for the French-Canadian dish that’s also grown in popularity in Denver.
The First-Timer Order
Okay, here it is. The moment you’ve all be waiting (and drooling) for. You walk up to the Bruxie counter for the first time and you order…
The light version:
The Prosciutto and Gruyere sandwich offers a balance of salty fat, bitter arugula, and a yolk ooze. Grab a little bottle of Vermont Maple Syrup and finish the tips with a little sweet dip.
The heavy version:
Pastrami or Fried Chicken sandwich + S’mores or Lemon Meringue Pie for dessert. The torching on the house made marshmallow in each of those dessert waffles makes them real foodie showstoppers.
Bruxie – Denver Location
Opens this week!
1000 South Colorado Blvd
Glendale, CO 80246
What do you think about a waffle sandwich? Have you tried a Bruxie yet? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!