If you have the chutzpah to open a one-item restaurant with variations on that single specialty, that thing better be so amazingly good that people gladly line up around the block for it and wait, and wait...
Bruxie, the brand new waffle restaurant in Old Town Orange, opened exactly a week ago today in the former Dairy Treet building kitty corner from Chapman College. The whole menu is made up of waffles and the sandwiches made from them except--wait for it--real deal frozen custard, just like back home in the Midwest.
I'll get to the waffles in a minute because you'll read about the waffles from every blogger, Yelper, and Chowhound soon enough. The biggest story as far as I'm concerned is the frozen custard made with egg yolk, and sourced from a supplier in Wisconsin. It's thick enough you can hold it upside down, just like the famed custard from Ted Drewes of St. Louis.
Real custard is worlds away from ordinary soft serve ice cream for two distinguishing reasons. In it's purest, old-fashioned form, it's made of milk, sugar, vanilla and egg yolks, cooked until it's a thin custard sauce called crème anglaise, just like recipes for home made French vanilla ice cream. Then it's frozen and churned until it's smooth and free of any grainy ice crystals. The churn has to be set to just the right temperature and just the right RPM to ensure the custard sets up with a creamy, almost buttery consistency.
I've been telling you for six years about the frozen custard at Irvine's Strickland Ice Cream, until now the only place in OC you could get one. Now, you know about Bruxie's frozen custard. Let the custard battle begin!
Now about those waffles: Bruxie doesn't make Belgian waffles in the usual sense of taller-than-normal-with-bigger-pockets. Waffles in Belgium start with batter leavened with yeast instead of baking powder. That yeast-risen batter cooks up crisp on the outside, while moist, creamy and -- dare I say the word again -- custardy on the inside.
There's several distinct kinds of waffles popular in Belgium, and Bruxie makes two of them - the sweet Liège style which has sugar pearls cooked in to the batter, and the not-sweet Brussels style. Bruxie uses the less sweet waffle to make their signature sandwiches.
On the day Bruxie invited me down to sample their food (yes, comped, and no, you can't have my job), I ate the Bruxie Burger: two Angus beef patties, cheddar cheese, tomato and a slice of kosher dill pickle folded into their waffle. I discovered the waffle-as-bun holds and absorbs all the burger juice in its nooks and crannies without falling apart. Intended or not, it's a brilliant consequence that carries over to their other sandwiches.
I also tried the S'mores sandwich. It's melted Belgian chocolate, house-made marshmallow fluff, and house-made graham crackers crumbs, and just as ooey-gooey-my-pants-size-just-grew as it sounds.
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All three of Bruxie's business partners are executive chefs with a combined experience of over 100 years in the restaurant business. Even though nothing on the menu costs more than $8, it's obvious they're using premium ingredients (the smoked salmon, the prosciutto, the chocolate, the cane-sugar-sweetened fountain drinks made by an Orange County soda company) and prepare the food with technical precision.
I already told you about the technical geekery that goes into making a frozen custard free of ice crystals. Here's another bit to ponder: a waffle iron, like the fry oil for your french fries, has to be blazing hot to crisp and brown the crust on the outside. It takes a few minutes for that waffle iron to come back up to the correct temperature between batches, and if the cooks don't take that time, the waffles come out pale and flaccid.
In a kitchen as tiny as Bruxie's, with as long a line as they have, they might be tempted to sloppily rush orders, but they don't. You might have to wait a little, but when your waffle's ready and you get that crispy-custardy texture wrapped around whatever flavor-rich ingredients they stuff your sandwich with, you should righteously feel robbed and betrayed by all the years and calories you've wasted on those sons of bitches at Eggo.
Bruxie Gourmet Waffle Sandwiches, 292 N. Glassell Street Orange; bruxie.com. Open 9am - 9pm daily.