Bonté’s sweet waffles are a delicious find, but columnist Caitlin Weigel has some savory options up her sleeve.
On 18th Street, between Market and Chestnut streets, hides a tiny eatery named Bonté that could easily be passed by. The quick pace of the average Philadelphian might make it hard to spot the cafe, which is tucked below street level. But should you choose to casually meander down 18th Street, you might catch a glimpse of it.
By “might happen to catch a glimpse of it,” I mean you will definitely see it.
What caught my eye was not the name of the cafe itself. It was a simple word on its sign, a word that conjures so many good images and prompts my salivary glands into action: “waffles.”
And not just any waffles – Belgian waffles. Though I’ve never met a Belgian person, I’m sure I would be inclined to like him or her just because of what the Belgians do with their waffles. It’s completely genius.
The beauty of a Belgian waffle comes from a mixture of several components. From the fluffy texture of the golden-brown square, combined with the deep, square pockets that act as perfect syrup catchers, waffles are a well-designed food.
Though the inside of the cafe isn’t much to look at, Bonté serves some seriously bangin’ Belgian street-style sugar waffles that can be enjoyed with various fruits or syrups.
My strawberry waffle was insanely good, with real whole strawberries cooked in the batter. The batter has a cinnamon-sugar element that completes the experience.
Be warned, though. Bonté waffles are hot – straight-from-an-oven-in-hell hot. I wish my order came with gloves for handling, but other than that, everything was spot on.
Waffles are pretty simple to make at home. The only crucial element needed is a waffle iron, and those bad boys crop up at thrift stores all the time. I am the proud owner of an ugly brown and tan waffle iron known as “The Belgian Waffler.” I paid about $3 for it, and it works like a dream.
A box of waffle mix won’t exactly break the bank, and with the addition of eggs and milk, you could start cranking out enough waffles to feed the neighborhood.
Bonté already has the “sweet” element down pretty well, so why not try something different at home?
Savory waffles are my latest obsession, and rightfully so. The homemade batter I make features rosemary and Dijon mustard, and the final product is topped with bacon and a sweet onion sauce.
A basic waffle-batter recipe is all you need to begin, and things get really fun with the addition of various spices and toppings.
But beware. Once you enter into the territory of savory waffles, you will find yourself constantly thinking about new flavor combinations to try out. Tarragon and smashed peas? Cumin and peanut sauce? What about using the savory waffles as bread and making a waffle sandwich?
It’s a whole Pandora’s box situation. Once you pop, the fun don’t stop. Maybe you could even crush up Pringles and ranch dressing as toppings.
Final verdict: Invest in a waffle maker. Your friends will love you. Or if you don’t have any friends, you probably will after you buy a waffle maker. Stick to savory waffles at home then hit up Bonté for dessert. Wafflicious.
Not a word, but it definitely should be.
Caitlin Weigel can be reached at email@example.com.