Anyone who frequents Findlay Market knows the smell-- right outside of Kroeger's Meats, on the outside perimeter is when it starts smelling really good-- the sugary, vanilla-y scent of The Belgian Waffle Guy. The first time I noticed him, he offered me a taste, and it was the first (and only) time I've ever had a sample, walked past, then spun on my heel to actually buy whatever I was sampling. It's that good.
Jean-Francois Flechet, who is originally from Belgium, might be better termed as the "Liege Waffle Guy". These aren't the waffles from your Belgian waffle iron-- these are crisp and sugary and a little gooey on the outside, somehow both dense and fluffy on the inside-- and are simply the most amazing confection I've ever tasted. Over the past couple of months, I've had Liege- style waffles in two other places (in Bryant Park in New York from an outfit called Augustin's, which sells something like 17,000 waffles a day as well as from a cart somewhere in Paris) and both times my traveling partner and I both said, "Wow. They're just not the same as the ones we get back home". When we got back into town, we made a beeline for Findlay to chat with Jean-Francois about how good his waffles are. His secret? They're fresh-- frozen no longer than a week (unlike Augustin's, which are imported from Belgium, and thus a bit over-frozen and chewy in an unpleasant way)-- and made in very small batches.
The good news? Taste From Belgium has expanded outside Findlay Market-- you can now find his waffles at Newport on the Levee, freshly made on Saturdays and Sundays at the Coffee Shop on Madison (the best way to eat them is fresh and hot right off the waffle iron) and at a bunch of other independent restaurants and coffee shops throughout the city, including Daveed's and Honey.
I'm hoping to include a few more restaurant reviews this year, so join me in supporting local entrepreneurs and restauranteurs. And tell Jean-Francois that you heard about him here!