Breakfast Review: What the Waffle?
The What the Waffle story starts at the Columbus Food Hub. The Food Hub isn’t new. According to its website, it was founded in 2013 by Allen Scott, as an offshoot of his United Provision Meat, Seafood & Catering Company. United Provision itself is decades old, with a long history of offering well-priced, painfully fresh fare at the corner of Oak and Ohio.
Equipped with a commercial kitchen, the Food Hub was established as an incubator for food-related start-ups. Still, its alumni are more well-known than the hub itself. It produced J’s Hot Fish, and was the early home of Hot Chicken Takeover. These days, the building sports several signs, including ones for projects such as Taste of Boudins and Way Down Yonder. This is where the Waffle story starts, it occupies the food hub during the weekday morning hours.
Most breakfast places operate right through the lunch hour, but What the Waffle has a purist’s hours (for right now, anyway): it’s open weekdays from 7 a.m. until 11 a.m. There is a walk-up window on the side of the hub, but this year’s winter weather demands a few extra steps inside the building to wait in warmth. As the name implies, the menu is centered on waffles. The prices are astounding.
For $3, you can score a perfect, freshly made house waffle. Even without syrup, the aroma of its fermented sweetness draws you in. With crisp edges and dewy soft interior, its deep pockets are optimized for holding syrup. The syrup is not artisanal maple, cultivated from non-GMO trees. It’s the sweet stuff in packets from childhood. At the price, there is no room for complaints.
For a little more money, you can score a waffle sandwich. At $4.25, the sandwiches are roughly twice the size of regular breakfast sandwiches. The sizing makes sense, pragmatically speaking. When you cook a waffle, you typically get four sections. So, if you use that waffle to build a sandwich, then you’ll have two sections for the top, and two for the bottom. So the sausage sandwich offers two sausage patties, side-by side, layered with a thin fried egg and melted cheese to hold it together. You get the sweetness of the waffle, with the savory element of the sausage: perfect combo.
Waffle sandwiches can be assembled with varying combinations of cheese, egg, and breakfast meats. The bacon version offered the same layering found in the sausage sandwich, albeit with crisp, briny bacon as a foil for the sweetly soft waffle.
Diners don’t have to put things together in a waffle sandwich. You can order sausage, eggs and bacon a la carte too. Hash browns ($2) make an appearance on the side menu. Although popular, they are pass-up-able, about par for the course in terms of potato shreds, and they taste a little bit like the freezer.
Not pass-up-able, however, is the sweet potato muffin ($1). Perfectly domed, it’s sweet and dense with tender crumbs. Ittastes like a quality baked good and not like a cake-mix-cupcake.
Overheard in the establishment was a pledge to expand to include chicken (for Chicken and Waffles) and Shrimp & Grits in the spring. They’ll have to stay open later for that, but for now you can find them in the mornings at 1117 Oak St.
For more information, visit www.whatthewaffle.org.
Photos by Walker Evans.