Friday, March 7, 2014
From staff reports
Wannawaf, the new waffle place that took over the space Cobblestones used to inhabit in Portland's Monument Square, has some of the cheeriest decor around, with walls the color of lime sherbet, shiny metal tables and bright red bistro chairs. You can't help but smile when you walk in the door.
The Kitchen Sink – egg, home fries and choice of meat cooked in a waffle – served at Wannawaf in Portland.
WHERE: 15 Monument Square, Portland; 615-4602
HOURS: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday; 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday
CHEAPEST GRUB: One price for savory waffles, $6.89; waffle-and-ice cream sundaes are $5.89 and $6.89
WAIT: 10 minutes
PARKING: On street and in nearby garage
HANDICAPPED ACCESSIBLE: Yes
Based on a five-star scale
The food will make you smile too.
Belgian waffles are one of those classic comfort foods that are just fine on their own, with (of course) a little butter and some Maine maple syrup.
Wannawaf takes them to the next level by adding savory ingredients such as sausage, bacon, hamburger, chicken and cheese in interesting combinations with things such as blueberries and caramelized onions.
The restaurant also has an extensive selection of waffle-centric sweet treats and ice cream from Shain's of Maine.
I was in the mood for breakfast when I first walked into Wannawaf, so I ordered The Kitchen Sink from the menu that was strung from the ceiling and hanging from a pulley.
Once you place your order, you can go down to the other end of the counter and watch them make your waffle.
The waffle maker poured batter into a big waffle iron, then added an egg, home fries and sausage (it's your choice of meat) pre-cut into small pieces. She lowered the top of the iron and flipped it, then waited for the breakfast ingredients to cook inside the waffle.
When it was ready, she removed the waffle -- it was huge -- and chopped it into more manageable pieces so it would fit into a small serving container. Because I was taking this to go, I got the butter and maple syrup on the side.
The waffle was hit-the-spot delicious, but I confess that I don't really know whether she actually added the home fries. They were not really discernible in the finished dish. I would rather have had more sausage.
On another day, I decided to try something a little more sweet, so I ordered the Blue, Bacon & Brie.
This time around, the Wannawaf waffle maker laid strips of bacon end-to-end in the batter, then added a pre-measured amount of fat blueberries and small bits of brie.
I found myself craving some syrup on this one when I finally got the chance to dig in, but instead of syrup, it came with a small container of sweet onion relish on the side.
It was a little early in the day for onions -- for me, anyway -- but once I tried them, I really liked them.
It was an interesting blend of flavors, but I wished the brie pieces had been a little larger, because most of the chunks blended into the batter and got a little lost. When all the flavors came together in one bite, it was heaven.
All of the savory waffle options cost $6.89 -- add a cup of coffee, and the entire meal will set you back $9 and change. There are eight choices.
Others that sounded tempting to me were the Sweet James, which is made with cream cheese, caramelized onions and bacon served with a tart strawberry jam, and a version of the classic Chicken n'Waffles.
The sweet side of the menu includes ice cream served straight up (in a waffle cone, of course, if you so choose) and treats such as ice cream sandwiches made with waffles instead of cookies.
The waffle-and-ice cream sundaes come in two sizes, and sound completely decadent.
The Sugar Daddy, for example, is made with a hot waffle, butter pecan ice cream, caramel, hot fudge, whipped cream and toffee chips. Wow.
The Chunky Monkey is a hot waffle with vanilla ice cream, fresh banana, Nutella, whipped cream and coconut.
If you eat too many of them, it will probably make you chunky too.
The staff of GO anonymously samples meals for about $10.