Dessert for breakfast has been an accepted part of Melbourne’s cafe culture for quite some time now, but the standard waffle has lifted its game. With varieties that smash the notion of the average berry-and-ice-cream model, the sweet treat now has a solid place on savoury dining menus.
The ideal waffle, whether it's a thick, doughy Belgian-style, or a thinner, crisp French variation, should be a fluffy, golden grid with a slight crunch to it. Whichever way you like them served up, you’re sure to find it around Melbourne.
The Melbourne waffle joint that’s cemented its place on Degraves Street sets the Belgian waffle standard high. The takeaway joint serves up thick, buttery, sweet waffles with deep grooves that serve as wells for the toppings of your choice. From Nutella and peanut butter to bananas and strawberries, punters come here for an afternoon sweet fix without all the fancy trimmings. But with a waffle this good, come for the classic $4 plain waffle dusted with icing sugar. It’s anything but ordinary.
There aren’t many chefs who can walk that fine line between breakfast and fine dining, but Andrew McConnell is one of them. His creation is a Belgian-style waffle stuffed with confit-duck meat and topped with a delicate piping of foie gras alongside a prune puree. This generous slice of savoury waffle will surprise the palate with its blend of oniony cream and sticky, jam-like puree. Served as a starter, this dish will be remembered long after the meal is over.
This cosy cafe turns out equally comforting food, including the apple-pie waffles with maple-baked apples, pecan crumb and vanilla ice-cream. The buttermilk waffles are fluffy with a light, crisp exterior, topped with slightly tart apples, fresh blueberries and buttery crumble. To get the most out of your morning treat, sit in the lush, floral garden in the sunshine.
Mr Big Stuff
This soul food joint is so good at doing what it does that it deserves another mention (it made the cut in our recent fried chicken list too). Its fried chicken and waffles doesn’t only ace the cooked poultry component, but nails the chunky, cheddar and rosemary waffles dusted with powdered sugar. Despite sounding like something concocted by a stoned teenager, this meal is refined dining. The flavours of the succulent, crisp, fried chicken and the sweet, flavour-packed fat waffles really are good for the soul. Top it all off with lashings of spiced maple syrup and your guilty pleasure is complete.
Lucky Penny’s indulgent breakfast dessert gives you more waffle for your waffle, topping a decadent Belgian waffle smothered in soft, salted chocolate with an upturned waffle cone of vanilla ice-cream. You cannot accuse the chef here of skimping on flavour (the whipped chocolate is covered in tiny salt flakes). The savoury-sweet combination is for a palate wanting a flavour punch.
Waffles aren't your typical healthy breakfast option when eating out, but Touchwood has mastered the balance of an almost guilt-free sweet treat. On the menu is banana and blueberry wholemeal waffles with vanilla crème fraiche and strawberry dust with a side of organic maple syrup. The individual flavours come through vividly, leaving a fresh, delicate taste in your mouth without the usual heavy feeling.
Axil Coffee Roasters
This dark warehouse space on Burwood Road houses an indulgent waffle with peanut-butter parfait, banana, dark chocolate and candied popcorn – striking a perfect balance of flavours and textures with salty, sweet and bitter elements. Due to Axil’s seasonal menu, these babies won’t be around forever so get in quick.
These fast-food treats are like the soft pretzels of the waffle world, with each individual, doughy pastry teasing you to grab another. Steel, industrial-looking irons pump out perfectly spongy, uniform grids that are full of flavour without leaving you with a toothache. Despite the scale of the operation, these light, pillowy desserts aren’t a greasy, commercial product. Choose from cinnamon to raspberry and white chocolate (with optional glazing), or savoury options such as pulled pork or fried chicken.