March 27, 2014

Hot Off the Waffle Press!

{Review of Linea Caffe & Belgian Waffle Recipe}

Buckwheat waffle with mascarpone and honey at Linea Caffe ($7)

Tipped off by a "Bargain Bite" review in the San Francisco Chronicle on March 6th, this past weekend I made an early morning expedition in quest of gourmet waffles. The source of these gaufres (French for "waffle") is surprising: a tiny little neighborhood cafe in the Mission District that I've walked by frequently but never even considered stopping into. Linea Caffe is a wonderful discovery!

From the storefront, Linea Caffe appears to be just another coffee shop offering $3 shots of espresso. You'd never imagine that they serve fancy Belgian waffles. There are no tables inside and I've never seen a line outside (at least before the article was published), which are the two main indicators of a good San Francisco brunch spot. 

The "dining area" at Linea Caffe. It's perfect for brunch on a sunny day!

The small nondescript coffee shop seems to be on the brink of a new trend, somewhere between a restaurant and a pop-up. There's not really a kitchen, just a few waffle makers behind the espresso machines. It's a brilliant idea that makes the most of the space. The NY Times published an article on March 18th about Linea Caffe's innovative concept.

Selection of Waffles at Linea Caffe

Linea Caffe is the collaboration of trendsetters in the restaurant/coffee scene: Andrew Barnett, World Barista Championship Belgian "Cup of Excellence" winner and Anthony Myint, owner of "Mission Chinese Food" and "Commonwealth" restaurants. Needless to say, waffles must be on the cutting edge these days. In the same way that grey became the new black and Tuesday became the new Thursday, I predict that Belgian waffles will become the new pancakes. 

Brussels-style yeasted waffle with maple syrup ($6)

The waffles at Linea Caffe are truly gourmet. They're perfectly crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. Even the simple waffle with maple syrup is something special: It's made in the Brussels style, meaning the batter's rising agent is yeast instead of baking powder and baking soda. This gives the waffle an aromatic yeasty flavor that is less sweet than an ordinary waffle. The other waffles are not made with yeast but are equally delicious. 

Fruit and Greek yogurt waffle with oranges, house marmalade and olive oil ($7)

Linea Caffe also does a wonderful job with the toppings, all of which are excellent quality. The maple syrup is pure Grade A syrup. One of the waffles is drizzled with spoonfuls of Greek yogurt and fresh orange wedges, plus a bit of homemade marmalade and a touch of olive oil—the perfect combination of flavors. My favorite was the buckwheat waffle (has a nice complex, nutty flavor) topped with a generous dollop of rich, creamy mascarpone and sweet local honey.

Belgian Waffle Recipe (from "Larousse Gastronomique")

Inspired by my waffle experience at Linea Caffe, I searched for a good basic recipe that would produce results similar to Linea's plain waffle. This simple Belgian waffle recipe comes from "Larousse Gastronomique," a French encyclopedia of gastronomy, the ultimate foodie reference manual!

4 1/2 cups (500g) of all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons of baking soda
4 teaspoons of baking powder
2 teaspoons of salt
2 - 3 tablespoons of superfine sugar
2/3 cup (5 oz.) of melted unsalted butter
5 beaten eggs
3 1/2 cup of whole milk

In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients together. Grease your waffle press and then pour a small ladleful of batter onto the hot griddle. Close the waffle press and cook for a few minutes, until the waffle is golden brown.  

Copyright © 2014, Lisa Alexander. All rights reserved.


Giardino Segreto said...

The waffle was very good there and the coffee was perfectly made. I am very picky when it comes to sweet breakfast food but I was impressed by the waffle there. The place had a nice community feel to it. I saw a couple in their pj coming there for their coffee and waffles. How great is that?

Miss Patisserie said...

Linea Caffe really is THE place to be for brunch on a sunny day. How funny that patrons show up in their pajamas! That's so San Francisco! :)

@the_bear_clan said...

Wow when I saw the picture of Buckwheat waffle with mascarpone and honey I started drooling. Add to it the crispy outside, fresh toppings and $3 espresso and I have just made my next weekend brunch plans! Thanks for uncovering such a wonderful treat.