It was while wandering down the sidewalks of River North in a haze of sniffles and watery eyes that Brandy found herself outside of one of the newest gourmet fast food stops, Bel 50, whose main innovation seemed to be replacing the bread in traditional sandwiches with a homemade Belgian waffle. Brandy eyed up the rather extensive and promising menu for a few moments before deciding to go in. "Hopefully the flavors are bold enough that I'll be able to taste the food," she said through her swelled nasal passages.
The inside of Bel 50 was interesting, to say the least; the main dining area was dominated by long wooden tables, meant to accommodate all sizes of parties (but in reality probably just serve to cause frustration when smaller parties spread out across them and take up an excessive amount of seats) with square, orange ottomans for seating. "I usually prefer something with a back," Brandy said, "Hunching forward over the table is bad for digestion. It's also horrible manners." The decor was nice enough, with high ceilings making the room feel open and spacious, and the little pops of orange and tan against the wood of the tables created a happy atmosphere without being too oppressive or trendy feeling.
Lastly was the Creme Brulee Waffle, filled with custard and assorted berries. Again, Brandy was amazed that the waffle held the fillings in rather nicely, and upon taking a bite she detected an unexpected crunch. "There's bits of caramelized sugar in here!" she exclaimed. The sugar provided a nice bit of texture and made each bite a little different, as some pieces had a more pleasantly burnt flavor to them than others. The berries though seemed a little less than fresh and had gone quite soggy in the sandwich. Brandy couldn't decide it is was due to them being slightly cooked, previously frozen, or if they had been stored in some sort of syrup that robbed them of their freshness, but either way they were a bit of a let down. The custard too was a bit disappointing, as it seemed a little thin and bland. "Its more like a zabayon really," Brandy thought aloud, "But we British know a thing or two about custard, and this is not a custard."
All in all, Brandy ended up thinking that Bel 50 could be onto something with this whole waffle idea. The food was fast, better than what one would expect from say a corner deli, and decently priced (Brandy paid about $20 in all), but in the end little more than an interesting novelty and not a culinary innovation. "But perhaps I should try replacing all my bread with waffles," Brandy wondered as she sneezed her way out the door, "It would certainly make for more interesting croutons in my salad."
The Short and Sweet Review