Is it really possible to dislike waffles, the most utilitarian of all breakfast staples? As the late, great Mitch Hedberg insightfully observed, “waffles are like pancakes with syrup traps.” Seeking to extend the waffle beyond it’s humble breakfast origins is the oddly-named Bru’s Wiffle in Santa Monica, which opened late last year. The quiet café wouldn’t be out of place in a spring Ikea catalogue: an open, airy space brightly decorated in pastel colors and simple oak furniture. Much in the same vein as it’s spunkier sister restaurant Bruxie’s Waffle in Orange, a former burger stand which has become an all-hours favorite amongst Chapman undergrads, Bru’s operates on the premise that waffle consumption is appropriate for both all hours and all tastes.
Not unlike what you would find in many crêperies, Bru’s fresh-made waffles serve as blank canvases to be paired with a wide array of ingredients and flavors. The menu runs the gambit from sweeter fare: crisp sugar-dusted waffles sundaes topped with gobs of melting ice cream and chocolate sauce, or heavily studded with glazed pecans and chunks of ripe banana; to the more unusual offerings of waffles smothered in chili and cheese, a curry chicken salad waffle sandwich, and a waffle pizza layered with pepperoni and mushrooms. As one would expect, owner Ebru Fidan and her husband, both chefs whom originally hail from Turkey, have honed their Belgium waffle recipe to near perfection, using one batter for sweet waffles and another for savory dishes. The sweet waffles in particular are architectural marvels: a thin, sweet outer crust holds up to a heavy slathering of whipped cream or Nutella, while the inside maintains the light, doughy texture of a good pastry, redolent in the rich scent of vanilla bean that renders syrup unnecessary.
What is more surprising here though, is the attention paid to the background cast found on the menu. To make the popular meatball marinara waffle, Ebru makes both the tomato sauce and meatballs from scratch daily. The result is tender spheres of ground beef speckled with onion and caraway seed, bathing in a sweet, tangy sauce that would draws praises at Vito’s Pizzeria, much less a waffle shop. The curry chicken salad, blended with dried cranberries and toasted almonds, and the crunchy strip of fried chicken, both succeed when paired with a folded waffle, despite lacking the same level of originality as the meatball-waffle union. Yet, the fatal flaw of these savory waffles is that they lack the crisp shell found in the sweeter waffle batter, meaning that the waffles quickly grow soggy and pliable after a few minutes, finally losing anything resembling structure during the last few bites. The thin-cut sweet potato waffle fries, served in a miniaturized shopping cart, are crisp and tender at first, but once again lose their texture after a few passing minutes. That said, Bru’s deserves praise for it’s unique combinations and use of quality ingredients for a reasonable price, despite the occasional shortfall. Breakfast traditionalists may choose the revamped old-school diner Snug Harbor across the street, but for those who prefer their Belgium waffles fully dressed, Bru’s Wiffles makes for a satisfying choice.
Bru’s Wiffle – A Waffle Joint
2408 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90403