Waffle Iron sets re-opening dates, serving up chicken and waffles in meantime; La Prima Tazza to unveil new menu
Listen up, waffle enthusiasts. I’ve got two big pieces of Waffle Iron-related news to share with you.
Let’s start with the most important bit. The popular breakfast spot, which closed earlier this summer for renovations, will re-open Saturday, Sept. 5.
Owner/chef Sam Donnell confirmed the date earlier this week. The Waffle Iron, located in the space above John Brown Underground at 7 East Seventh St., will carry on with its original hours of 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, he says.
If you’re looking for a job that indulges your waffle-loving tendencies, you might consider applying at the Waffle Iron. At least that’s what Facebook is telling me. “Servers, waffle makers, and dish” (I’m assuming that’s dishwashers?) are needed, so if you think you’ve got what it takes, send your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donnell also shared some juicy (literally) tidbits of this Sunday’s chicken-and-waffles brunch at the Basil Leaf Café, 616 W. Ninth St.
Slated for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the event comes on the heels of Donnell’s first “insane” pop-up event at the Basil Leaf — that one drew a “line around the building” on Aug. 16, he says.
“This time, we’re trying to do our interpretation of a classic, home-style Southern chicken and waffles,” Donnell says. Apparently, that means “a little spicy, a little sweet, a little bourbon.”
On Sunday, Donnell and Basil Leaf owner/chef Brad Walters will serve up buttermilk cornmeal waffles topped with fried chicken marinated in hot sauce.
They’ll also have some pretty inventive condiments on hand, including: bacon pecan peppered caramel compound butter; brown sugar maple bacon butter with bourbon; and a green-chili maple syrup.
As for sides, Donnell says they’re loading each plate with “classic home fries,” local peaches and brown-butter cream with candied bacon.
Based on the Waffle Iron’s last pop-up, he’s expecting to sell out. So, come early. No reservations at this shindig.
La Prima Tazza to serve up streamlined menu, treats inspired by Far East
In other timely dining news, La Prima Tazza will unveil its updated menu this weekend.
Customers should see the “simplified” chalkboard above the shop’s counter when La Prima Tazza, 638 Massachusetts St., opens at 7:30 a.m. Saturday.
Not to worry, coffee fans: “No one’s going to be losing anything,” manager Rob Schulte says. “All their favorites are still available.”
My fellow tea drinkers/Japanophiles should appreciate Schulte’s new additions to the menu, which include no less than “four or five” specialty matcha drinks, he says.
If you’re not excited by the thought of coconut-mango iced matchas, matcha lattes, mocha matchas and matcha macchiato coming to La Prima Tazza very soon, here’s a little video that should get you there:
If the Waffle Iron’s recent hiatus has left you in a waffle withdrawal, you’re in luck. Sam Donnell, owner and waffle wizard, has announced plans of a popup this weekend at the Basil Leaf Café, 616 W. Ninth St.
The Waffle Iron, which shares the space above John Brown’s Underground with the bar, closed temporarily in late June for kitchen renovations — a move that had been in the works long before The Waffle Iron moved in about three months ago. But Donnell says they’ve taken longer than expected (something about securing a building permit, he guesses), and with no solid reopening date in sight, he’s “aching to make waffles” again.
For Sunday’s popup (that’s from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., no reservations necessary), Donnell says he’s planning a menu of “classic Waffle Iron” selections.
“Nothing too crazy,” he promises. “It’ll be a chance for everybody to reconnect and get some damn waffles.”
The Hank Benedict (also known as the Waffle Benedict) and Donnell’s popular brown sugar maple bacon waffle are pretty much guaranteed, but much of the “summertime” menu will depend on what’s available at the Lawrence Farmers Market, Donnell says.
Right now, he’s looking forward to seeing if pal Brad Walters' space “has enough juice to handle my iron.” Yes, he really did say that.
Donnell, who says he’s still using The Waffle Iron for private events, is tentatively partnering up with Walters again for a chicken-and-waffles night at the Basil Leaf sometime down the road. According to the Basil Leaf Cafe's Facebook page, it's looking like Aug. 30, though Donnell himself didn't give out a date.
Also on the radar: a possible taco-waffle mashup event inspired by Southern California-style taquerías. Donnell’s been developing a recipe for a cornmeal-based waffle over the last few months that he says pairs nicely with Latin flavors and withstands the weight of “a big pile of carnitas on top of it.”
No word yet on when we can eat carnitas out of a waffle, but I’ll certainly keep you updated.
Breakfast at Basil Leaf
In other Basil Leaf Café news, owner/chef Brad Walters has confirmed plans of a future breakfast menu at the Italian eatery.
It’s something Walters used to offer at the Basil Leaf’s original location (a Phillips 66 gas station along Sixth Street) and has been toying with for a while since opening up at 616 W. Ninth St. in 2013.
Walters says he’s hoping to capitalize on Lawrence’s love of breakfast spots, which despite their prevalence here, often still result in overflow on weekend mornings.
“I think we can pull some of that crowd and bring something unique to the scene that you’re not going to see anywhere else,” Walters says.
He’s still tweaking the roster now, which he says will probably debut next week, but was able to offer a few tantalizing tidbits — namely, French toast made with cinnamon rolls soaked in caramel-apple brandy.
Also, expect biscuits and gravy, plus a “wide variety” of omelets and a few daily specials. There will also be self-serve stations for coffee, juice and milk.
Walters says he isn't sure about the breakfast menu's official debut. He did confirm breakfast hours, though, at least tentatively: 7 to 10:30 a.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.
When it comes to mastering the art of waffles — or, to clarify, a waffle house — it’s best to take things slowly.
That’s the approach Sam Donnell’s taking over at The Waffle Iron, which opened in its new location at 7 E. Seventh St. four weeks ago. Foodies may remember the original home of the waffle business at Decade Coffee Shop in East Lawrence, where it operated from January to early May.
“This went from my first pop-up to a full-blown location in three months,” says Donnell, the Waffle Iron's owner/chef. “There’s still a lot I’m learning.”
Donnell’s sharing his new home in the upstairs space of the speakeasy-themed bar John Brown’s Underground. Thanks to the pairing, customers can now enjoy Donnell’s signature waffles with brunch-y cocktails such as bloody marys and mimosas from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
John Brown's, which mainly operates on the basement level of the building, occasionally uses the upstairs space — an expanse of old wood floors with a golden-hued tin ceiling, a chandelier and giant windows overlooking Seventh Street — for private events in the evenings, though Donnell says bar staffers are letting him use it for night-time events once a month.
Donnell is currently in talks with Basil Leaf Cafe and Hank Charcuterie to host a “chicken and waffles night” at some point this summer. Also on the radar: Donnell says John Brown's has plans to install a fully functioning commercial kitchen in the space sometime in the next few months, at which point he’ll temporarily close the shop. (The Waffle Iron will also be closed the last weekend of June, Donnell says.)
As of right now, Donnell and his staff (he’s still the only cook cranking out waffles on the restaurant’s two waffle irons, though he’s got someone to wash dishes and John Brown's bartenders helping him out with drinks) are serving “just the classics,” though he plans on debuting more of his zany creations once he gets more settled in.
The popular Hank Benedict — essentially a waffle topped with eggs Benedict, which you may remember as the Waffle Benedict from Off the Beaten Plate a few months back — has moved from Fridays only to being available Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Sweeter waffle varieties like vanilla bean maple, blueberry lemon curd and s’mores have made appearances, too.
Donnell says business has been slower than it was at Decade so far, which he’s ultimately OK with. Had he opened a month or two earlier with the KU crowd still in town, it may have been too much to handle in the midst of figuring out all the logistics that come with opening a new restaurant — especially in a space that has never housed one before, he points out.
“Without students here, it’s allowed me to open in a quiet way. I’m taking it slow, and I want it to grow naturally,” Donnell says. After all, “It was only this week that I got a coffee grinder.”