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[Photographs: Chelsea Ross]

If you come to Waffles and don't leave feeling like you've waffled your stomach, you're doing it wrong. Waffles is a whimsical homage to the namesake breakfast staple, and it's the best thing to happen to waffles since Eggo. The menu is quirky and fun, featuring gourmet waffles inspired by other beloved foods, such as a Mexican chocolate waffle, a ham and cheese waffle, and a red velvet waffle. It's as if Willy Wonka decided waffles were his new thing and commandeered the kitchen.

A bulk of the waffle roster is comprised of Brussels-style waffles, which are prepared with a yeast-leavened batter and thus, thick and crackly, with a matzo-like exterior. The albondigas waffle ($12.95) is a riff on a traditional Mexican meatball soup, and now I'm thinking that there should be more soup-inspired waffles. A French onion waffle would be amazing. Anyway, the albondigas are pork and lamb meatballs soaked in spicy tomato stew and served with a Chihuahua cheese waffle. With the right forkful, the whole thing tastes like a meatball sub. The Chihuahua cheese flavor is a little muted, and the "stew" is more like a spiced marinara sauce, but the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

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For something sweet, the green tea waffle ($8.95) is a less aggressively dessert-y option than some of the other sweet options (looking at you, red velvet). The earthy funk of green tea is well balanced by the lemon-ginger Chantilly cream, which is so fantastic I wish I could frost an entire wedding cake with it, then steal the wedding cake, ruin the wedding, and eat it by myself. I'm willing to ruin a marriage over this Chantilly cream. As with the other Brussels waffles, the green tea waffle is wonderfully light, almost like meringue. Though portions are huge, this makes it deceptively easy to eat an entire plate. A bit of crumbled pistachios, powdered sugar, and candied ginger round out the waffle as subtle accents.

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The other style of waffle here is the Liege waffle ($7.95), which is much denser and richer than its Brussels counterpart. More like waffled cake than straight-up waffles, they're made with pearl sugar, which helps richen the batter and form pockets of caramelized sugar. The waffle itself is rich enough on its own, but it comes with your choice of jam or bananas and Nutella. Go with jam (blackberry is nice), since adding Nutella to a Liege waffle would be like garnishing a cake with a pie.

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There's also a bunch of egg dishes and sandwiches, but those feel beside the point. Going to Waffles and ordering something that isn't a waffle would be like going to Disney World and just sit in the parking lot.

Waffles

1400 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago IL 60605 and 3716 North Broadway Avenue, Chicago, IL 60613(map)
312-854-8572 and 773-281-8475
waffleschicago.com

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