Bruges Waffles and Frites
336 West 300 South
Salt Lake City, UT
It doesn’t matter what brings you to downtown Salt Lake City. Perhaps you are doing some shopping or going to a movie at the Gateway Mall. You may even be in from out of town on a business trip. Did you take the trax for LDS General Conference? Are you part of the occupy movement and just decide to pitch a tent at Pioneer Park? Decide to forgive the greedy NBA players and catch a Jazz game at the ESA? Whatever the reason may be, the thought may come to your mind that often (quite often) comes to my mind. “I’m hungry”. I’ve got your spot. Bruges Waffles and Frites!!!
I met owner and founder Pierre Vandamme on my very first visit several years ago. He had just opened up a permanent location at a small shop on 300 South between 400 West and 300 West just north of Pioneer Park. The location isn’t much bigger than the size of your kitchen at home, and is also located right next door to Caputo’s Italian Deli. Pierre had already been selling his family recipe Belgian Waffle at the Farmer’s Market in the park for years prior. Pierre’s menu was and is simple. He has belgian waffles with a variety of toppings. Frites (fries) and Flemish Stew. My first vist and everyone’s first visit should always begin with Pierre’s famouse Liege Belgian Waffle.
Now the first thing that struck me about the waffles was the appearance of the dough or batter. This is NOT your ordinary runny batter mix that you poor into a griddle and then cook. I noticed that Pierre had a huge cookie sheet lined with fist size balls of gooey dough. Everything about this dough and inside the dough was all Belgian, especially the pearl sugar he uses. Pearl sugar looks like giant grains of sand, and they are mixed in throughout the waffle dough. Pierre grabs a ball of this waffle dough with tongs and places it inside a heavy duty waffle iron. Upon cooking, the waffle comes out piping hot with the pearl sugar carmelized on the oustide of the waffle. Now if you were to stop and eat the waffle right now, the result without any topping whatsoever would be an absolute marvel and revelation. I’ve seen Pierre make and sell many waffles straight up. You would be absolutely happy without anything additional. But although delicious, having the waffle plain wouldn’t be as much fun as garnishing it with some delightful toppings.
Pierre also whips up a fresh batch daily of “Creme Fraiche” or freshly whipped creme. Now I’m not sure how he makes it or what’s in it. Upon first tasting this “Creme Fraiche” my mind was immediately transported to a Boss Ross painting. In that case the creme would contain a handful of happy clouds mixed in with angel wings, sugar and spice and everything nice. I’m telling you right now if I could fill up the Great Salt Lake with this stuff, I would jump in, sink to the bottom, and open my mouth until I had completely drained Lake Creme Fraiche. This stuff is AWESOME!!! Even after I finish my waffle, I make sure I enjoy ever last fiber of creme from my plate.But that is not all, it only gets better! Pierre has another trick up his sleeve. He also melts down the finest imported Belgian Chocolate that would give Willy Wonka a wet dream. He takes a ladel and decorates the hot waffle with melted chocolate. That’s right Bob Ross, just some happy little trails of chocolate deliciousness next to the fluffy Creme Fraiche. Close your eyes and picture it… carmelized waffle, pearl sugar, fresh creme fraiche, all drizzled with Belgian Chocolate. (I’m not even kidding that I just drooled on my keyboard.) But that’s not all, no sir….
Introducing…. Wait for it……… Waaaaiiiitttt for it ………… Crunchy Speculoos
No it’s not some sugar loaded kid’s cereal. You can’t find this stuff in any store or website anywhere. I’m not sure what Pierre does to smuggle this in, but it’s basically a little jar of finely ground up cookies until it reaches a consistency of peanut butter. It’s like Nutella but 100x better! You can even get a dollup of Crunchy Speculoos on your waffle. When you visit for the first time, tell the person working you would like to sample a little of the Speculoos. You won’t regret it!!
Question from the audience: Does Bruges Waffles and Frites have any fresh fruit topping? Answer – Hell Yes!!! You can get raspberrys, bananas, strawberries, seasonal peaches, you name it also on top of your fresh waffle. I recommend the raspberries, (Bob Ross talk on) because the fresh raspberrys playfully dive into your Creme Fraiche pillow and then the berry syrup runs off Creme Fraiche and will lightly soak the top of your waffle spilling gently onto the sides of your plate. (BobRoss off) At this point it all comes down to your skill with the fork, you should arrange to get a healthy chunk of waffle with chocoloate and fruit, then plunge it into your Creme Fraiche. Each bite should be carefully prepared before consumption. Pace yourself. Make sure you save your creme reserves so that each bite is a masterpiece.
Before moving on to the salty foods I do have to bring your attention to a newer item on Pierre’s magical cart. The Waffle Monster – A Liege Waffle stuffed with crunchy speculoos spread, vanilla bean ICE CREAM and strawberries.
(This section left blank intentially to allow your mind to wander and reflect on the grandeur and infinite taste potential of the Waffle Monster)
Now onto the frites. Despite the belief of some. French Fries were not invented by the French and they were not invented by McDonalds. And while we are on the subject, don’t you dare call them French Fries. The correct term is Frites, and they were invented in Belgum baby! Pierre takes his magic wand and turns what is normally a food that plays second fiddle to a greasy burger and turns them into a main course masterpiece. And yes this is Utah so Pierre has also invented over 10 different frites mayonase-based sauces. All of them with carefully selected herbs and spices.
In the winter months, if you need a little something to warm the belly, you can also go with the Flemish Stew and you will absolutely not go wrong with this. You can order some Frites with your stew, and rotate between dipping them in the mayo sauce and in the stew directly. I’m not going to tell you how to eat your stew, that’s every man, women, and child’s own business, just know that this is no ordinary stew, if you are man, this stew will build character and put hair on your chest, if you are woman then this stew will remove wrinkles, tighten your gluts and abs and add years onto your life, and if you are a child this stew will send you straight to top of Santa’s nice list.
Pierre doesn’t cheat you are size either. When I take my wife and children we order a small or medium size of the frites with an extra mayo sauce this is often plenty for us. Each order does come with a sauce, and I would definitely the Andalouse sauce for starters. If you want to be in charge and go large, make sure you have a small army with you.
Waffles and Frites. Really what an awesome idea! Belgian Waffles and Frites fit together perfectly in holy matrimony. The food is great and the ambience is exceptional as well. Even though the shop is very small, there are are plenty of tables and chairs available outside as well as on the rooftop, and all the workers are very friendly and passionate about what they do with Pierre being the ultimate scholar and a gentleman. I can’t remcomend this place highly enough. It’s amazing!