It isn’t often a food can be described as sparkly, but that’s certainly the word that comes to mind biting into a Sweet Iron waffle.
Pearls of sugar embedded in a dense yet fluffy batter explode on the tongue with a satisfying and caramelized crunch.
Sweet Iron, at 1200 3rd Ave., Downtown, specializes in authentic Liège waffles, a variation native to eastern Belgium, where they’re also known as hunting waffles. Made with butter, flour, honey, yeast and pearled sugar, the waffles are an adaptation of brioche bread dough into a gridded and pressed breakfast delicacy.
Sweet Iron’s waffles are made of all natural, local and organic ingredients, most notably utilizing flour from The Shepherd’s Grain, an alliance of progressive farmers dedicated to sustainable agricultural practices. However, conscientious ingredients necessitate no skimping on flavor.
The menu’s divided into sweet and savory options, both of which use the caramelized gridded bread as a base. Hot-off-the-grill waffles are sprinkled with a heavy helping of salty prosciutto and adorned with smooth crème fraiche and diced scallions for a tangy blend of briny and brioche.
A more hearty option slides roast turkey breast over locally made raspberry jam and finishes it off with twin slices of Havarti melted by a blow torch.
Sweet Iron’s employees are liberal and effervescent with their use of fire, and it’s a form of entertainment to watch your treat created.
Sturdy black cast-iron Belgian waffle irons — imported from the homeland — are patrons’ first sight on arrival, steaming with the scintillating aroma of sizzling dough.
Bananas also get the fiery touch, delicately brûléed for topping on a popular sweet waffle further crowned with caramel sauce and homemade whipped cream.
The parallel crunch of caramelized banana and toasted batter reveals an inner softness which alleviates any complaints that this sparkling gem might be too sweet.
The waffles, no bigger than the size of your hand, with the most elaborate offerings, are reasonably priced at $6.50.
They also offer Stumptown espresso, tea, or local apple cider, and the waffles available in miniature to-go form, sprinkled with powdered sugar or drenched in chocolate.
Sweet Iron’s menu doesn’t neglect the classics, either. Strawberries or berries are topped with a heaping fluff of fresh whipped cream which melts to a creamy syrup on contact with the hot batter.
The cafe lives up to its hole-in-the-wall status with a cramped scattering of three or four tables largely inadequate to accommodate its popularity during rush hours, but the modern environment is intimate in off-peak times.
Sweet Iron’s simple but creative menu almost begs for return visits to establish a favorite — or, let’s be honest — a sugary new addiction.