It takes an act of sheer iron will (and perhaps stupidity) to bypass the classic Brussels waffle at Belga Cafe on Capitol Hill. That yeasty batter, cooked to a light and crispy turn in a waffle iron, doesn’t need a river of syrup to provide its pleasures, only a sprinkling of powdered and brown sugars and a dollop of whipped cream. Believe it or not, I’m not suggesting you order that for brunch.
Instead, I’m suggesting that you order the gerookte zalm wafel ($11.95), which is savory, not sweet. The puff pastry, stuffed with smoked salmon, is baked first in an oven, then pressed in an iron to resemble a waffle, a visual trick-of-the-eye that, I suspect, fools only the young or the drunk.
But don’t get hung up on the deeper meaning behind this sight gag. When paired with its accompanying chive cream, this “waffle” is like a Belgian version of that Jewish deli staple, lox and bagels, but with one notable exception:
Chef Bart Vandaele places his waffle on a drizzle of reduced balsamic, which gets absorbed by the puff pastry and adds an undeniable sweetness to this savory bite. The balsamic takes the waffle to a whole new level of tastiness.