Thursday, August 28, 2014

These Waffles Are Out of the Box

Korean fried chicken and waffles
We all know the phrase "out of the box thinking" whereby you think of new and innovative ways to approach a problem or idea. To say that Waffle Experience is out of the box definitely refers to their taking of waffles to a whole new level than just breakfast. It can also refer to the fact that we aren't talking about Eggo toaster waffles either.

No. At Waffle Experience the waffle universe has been expanded to a whole new level...even beyond just the savory and sweet distinctions. The owners are making you think of waffles in a new and exciting way. In fact, in a minor way, they want you to think of waffles as just a crater-filled piece of bread and, like bread, can be used in every meal of the day as a super versatile ingredient.


Smor'tella
All this waffling started between two Marine veterans. Like so many military personnel, Jeff Belaski and Michael Donoho developed a brotherly bond that has stretched for 30 years. After their military stints, Michael started cooking and eventually ended up at the Waldorf Astoria in Boca Raton, Florida. He's even cooked alongside some famous names: alongside Iron Chef Morimoto, Emeril Lagasse, Anthony Bourdain, David Burke, Charlie Trotter, and Julia Childs.

Michael called up his buddy Jeff and sprang his idea - a waffle restaurant. But not some House of Pancakes type waffle place. No. Something bigger.


Waffle Experience is it and although less than a month open, it's already creating quite the buzz. Currently open just for breakfast through lunch, they will eventually open for dinner too.

Jeff sat down with me to talk about their plans...and they are many.

All of the ingredients are fresh, organic, farm-to-fork. In fact, they don't even have a soda machine and instead serve only all natural sodas. They've even asked the landlord if they can have a small empty dirt patch on the property to start their own garden and are also thinking of bee hives on the roof.

Each morning the waffle batter is made from scratch. This is the yeast risen Belgian style waffle batter that they let rise for two days.  Michael will split the dough for sweet versus savory waffles.  He will then take some and add sweet or savory ingredients. For instance, cocoa waffles, rosemary infused, cheese and jalapeno.

Here's a few examples of what they currently offer:
Jimmy the Greek

Jimmy the Greek: A fresh herb waffle topped with a farm fresh egg, feta cheese, dolmades, olives, sun dried tomatoes, arugula, micro basil, savory onion jam, aged balsamic drizzle, and vine tomatoes

Smor'tella (seen above): Cocoa waffle with Nutella, bananas foster, toasted marshmallow, graham cracker crumbs, and Nutella rum syrup

Cheeses Gone Wild: Sharp cheddar, smoked gouda, Fontina, Swiss, applewood smoked bacon, kale, heirloom tomato fennel confit, roasted garlicky basil aioli, caramelized leek waffles



Strawberry Fields: Lardon studded waffle with organic strawberries, applewood smoked bacon, blue cheese, strawberry cream cheese, arugula, candied almonds, and a balsamic glaze

Yes, there's even a burger, served with waffles as the bun.
Actually, of the four I've described, all but the Smor'tella will be on special for their Farm-to-Fork Restaurant Week menu from Sept 13 - 28.

They are hoping to get everyone up to speed quickly so that they can open for dinner. And the dinner menu will be more formal, sort of like Mother does for dinner service. Dinner will feature things like lamb chops, duck confit, seafood, and more with the waffles taking a minor role on the plate or maybe not at all. Jeff says that they could up just being "the bread basket" component of dinner.

Because they are veterans, all military, veterans, and first responders get a discount on their orders.

You can find Waffle Experience at 4391 Gateway Park Blvd in Natomas. Currently open  T-S from 8am-3pm





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