WRITTEN BY: VALERIE CHEN
The waffle, a batter or dough-based cake, is an easy-to-make breakfast staple for many Americans. Classically fluffy and sweet and often further flavored with additional toppings such as butter, syrup and jam, waffles have long held a habitual place in many of our hearts and subsequently on our grocery lists, fridges and stomachs.
You don’t question the deliciousness of this morning meal regular. That’s just the way it is.
But restaurant Bruxie Gourmet Waffle Sandwiches pushes the typical American waffle to break its habits and venture to new culinary heights.
Through Bruxie’s, the basic waffle goes bold… well, “bold fold,” to be exact.
Call it the Waffle Revolution, if you will, with front-line culinary chefs Dean Simon, Kelly Mullarney and Phillippe Caupain fighting gastronomic monotony through the opening of Bruxie Gourmet Waffle Sandwiches, located in both Orange and Brea.
The revolution’s first step: serving waffles unlike any other to hungry guests. The waffles available at Bruxie’s are Brussels, Belgium waffles with an innovative twist – they are not sweet in taste. Instead, the waffle titled “Bruxie” is light, airy, crispy and yeasty, enabling flexibility in working well with both sweet and savory applications.
While traveling with Caupain in Belgium 11 years ago, shopping for asparagus and food processing equipment, Simon became “infatuated” with the local homemade waffles sold in farmers markets and by street vendors. He and Caupain then developed the unique waffle mix in 2005 and exclusively sold it to high end hotels and cruise lines. “It’s totally unique [to America],” adds Simon.
Simon worked with fellow chef Mullarney to expand the growing waffle business. Mullarney had previously traveled to Asia and noted the popularity of pairing pancakes with sweet items as a yummy treat. The observation inspired the idea of replacing slices of bread with a waffle as the outer components of a sandwich. And thus, the Bruxie Gourmet Waffle Sandwich was born.
“We’re always thinking about how to get [the waffle] out of breakfast,” says Simon. “People originally think waffles for breakfast, but we’re actually lunch, dinner and dessert.”
The three all have widespread experience in the food business. Simon started washing dishes in a restaurant when he was 15 years old, and Mullarney and Caupain came from modest beginnings as well. Simon continued to work in restaurant kitchens while attending the University of Massachusetts, majoring in both hotel management and economics.
Afterwards, he worked as a private chef in California and then spent 20 years in the produce business, specializing in the best available products from a true chef’s perspective. Mullarney was his first client. Meanwhile, Caupain attended culinary school.
Together, the three are a foodie force to be reckoned with.
“We focus on quality, whether in cooking or producing, and always from a culinary perspective. Farmers market products, strawberries, figs, seasonal items, organic arugula – whatever we can get that fits. California is one of the greatest places to cook because you have the availability of such fabulous ingredients,” says Simon.
Making creative use of California’s fabulous ingredients, the menu features savory sandwiches such as the “Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Waffle” with chili honey and cole slaw; “Smoked Salmon and Dill Cream Cheese” with herb cream cheese, cucumbers and chives; and “Bacon, Egg and Cheddar” with Tillamook cheddar, mayo and Applewood smoked bacon.
If you feel like going the sweet route, you have the option of ordering “Nutella and Bananas” with sweet cream; Simon’s personal favorite, “Lemon Cream and Berries” with intense lemon cream and seasonal berries; or “Seasonal Crème Brulee” with classic vanilla crème with caramelized raw sugar and seasonal raw fruit. Other items include specials such as the “Irish Nachos” with crispy waffle fries, homemade cheese sauce, applewood smoked bacon, sour cream and chives; or the “Bruxie Salad” with grilled chicken, romaine and arugula, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, avocado, lemon vinaigrette and balsamic reduction. Vegetarian and gluten-free products are available as well. Food items on the menu typically range from about $3 to $8.
“From a price perspective for quality, if you go through the nuances of the menu, people can really dig into what we put in our products,” asserts Simon. “We make our own marshmallow, we make our own lemon curd. Things like that really set us apart. There’s fabulous products out there [in other restaurants], but typically the ingredients we use are more regulated for fine dining.”
Bruxie’s first location in Orange opened November 8, 2010 in a historical building that used to be a restaurant called Dairy Treet, established in 1949. Nostalgically honoring the 1950s hamburger-stand feel of the restaurant’s exterior, the three chefs opted for what Simon calls a “throwback experience” for diners. For example, Bruxie’s does not carry any Coca-Cola or Pepsi products. Instead, they use a recipe similar to the two popular sodas but without any high fructose corn syrup – a recipe that hadn’t been used for 30 years prior to the restaurant’s opening. “Our Coca-Cola is what it used to taste like,” says Simon.
That their painstaking efforts are paying rich dividends is evident in the restaurant’s booming popularity and following. A second location opened in Brea exactly a year after its Orange opening, and the restaurant has further plans for expansion in the future. Simon explains that the restaurant is going to grow as “organically” as possible, as long as they can do it in the right way.
For more information and a look at the full menu, visit www.bruxie.com.