Friday, June 24, 2011

Downtown Waffles

Downtown Waffles is a food cart located near the corner of Liberty St. and Chemeketa St. NE in downtown Salem, Oregon.

Menu (but you can also create your own for $4 as well!)
James Cloyd and his Downtown Waffles food cart
James Cloyd runs this food cart. I found him to be very friendly and personable. I have followed his Downtown Waffles Facebook page for some time now, and I've been wanting to try his waffles ever since. He appears to do just Brussels-style waffles, as opposed to the much sweeter Liege waffles. I prefer the Brussels can add sweetened toppings to the waffle if you want it that way.

While there are only four featured menu items -- each are $4 -- James allows you to create your own waffle for the same price. I chose peanut butter and Marionberry syrup for my waffle, and then when I noticed James had some fresh strawberries on his cart, I hulled the strawberries by hand and tossed a few in the waffle as well.

Belgian waffle w/peanut butter, Marionberry syrup, and fresh strawberries -- for $4
This waffle was damn good. Of course, the waffle was made to order. Despite the peanut butter and syrup's attempts to make the waffle soggier, the waffle did a pretty good job in holding up. The waffle itself was pliable, yet firm enough on the outside to keep all the contents contained. A good waffle sandwich, if there ever was one.

I liked the peanut butter and Marionberry syrup combination. The peanut butter gave some savoriness to the waffle, while the sweet syrup balanced the flavors. After all, it's similar to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

I figured adding the strawberries would complement everything and add a further dimension to the waffle because it would bring something fresh to the dance. James had already mentioned to me that he was thinking of doing a waffle with Nutella and strawberries, which also sounds amazing.

$4 is a very reasonable price for a good-sized Belgian waffle (Brussels style), especially when you can make your own. I also like that the waffle is folded in half, with "toppings" like peanut butter, syrup, and fruit stuffed inside the waffle to make a sandwich. It's perfect for people on the go, such as state workers.

A few suggestions for James, if he happens to read this (or anyone following his Facebook page, for that matter).

(1) I did not see crunchy peanut butter on the food cart, and I think that could be a nice option for people (like myself) who prefer the crunchy peanut butter over the creamy stuff. Also, I think the peanuts in the crunchy peanut butter would add that extra textural dimension when put on the waffle.

(2) Perhaps a few more ingredients could be added to the cart. I am aware it's a food cart and not a full-blown kitchen, but maybe some whip cream (place it in a small cooler if you need to), cinnamon, and/or nuts could become regular topping items as well. Four to five choices is a good start, though.

(3) Not sure if it's crossed James' mind, but I'm wondering if he's thought of savory waffle options. Again, choices are limited because it's a food cart, but I'm thinking shredded chicken, basil, tomatoes, cheese, etc. A small cooler can be used to keep the items safe from spoilage.

(Disclaimer: My suggestions for James should be taken as just that -- suggestions -- and not as negatives. I think food reviewers like myself are put on this planet to push the boundaries of food establishments everywhere, not punish them. I also figure if James spends time getting suggestions from his Facebook fans, I'll add my two or three cents to the mix.)

Let's not lose sight of the big picture: I am a huge fan of Downtown Waffles, and this is definitely a place to go for a good waffle. 7/10

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