A War Over Belgian Liège Waffles?
Who's the most authentic, Benelux or newcomer Press Au Marche? You be the judge.
Last week, Milwaukee’s Third Ward welcomed a new breakfast and lunch café to the Marshall Building, 207 E. Buffalo St. which declares itself “Milwaukee’s first authentic Belgian Liège waffle company.” That would be Press Au Marche.
Though there is another place in town, just a few blocks away, and also in the Third Ward, offering what it calls “authentic Belgian Liège waffles”: Cafe Benelux.
Why all the commotion about a waffle? Well, you see, compared to American waffles, the Belgian version has a lighter batter, larger squares, and deeper pockets. And of the two kinds of Belgian waffles, Brussels and Liege waffles, the Brussels version is typically rectangular and the Liege is round, and is a richer, denser, sweeter, and chewier waffle. Native to the French-speaking Wallonia region of Eastern Belgium, they are an adaptation of brioche bread dough. “A Liège waffle is filled with unevenly distributed clusters of caramelized pearl sugar, which gives a slightly bitter contrast with the buttery waffle dough,” as the website Taste notes.
That’s what Aaron Rosko and Emily Thomas, owners of Press Waffles, had been serving out of a food truck, a mint-green and white 1962 camper (named “Jane”), but they’ve now gone upscale, opening Press Au Marche, (French for “Press at the Market”), the company’s first brick-and-mortar location, on the first floor of the historic building. The first-floor space was formerly occupied by a convenience store.
Thomas and Rosko founded the business, which frequently set up shop at farmer’s markets and outdoor festivals, in 2015. “Our brioche-based dough is made locally by hand from our own traditional recipe, with roots dating back to the 1700s,” reads the Press website. “As our waffles cook, the imported Belgian pearl sugar within the dough caramelizes on the outside and leaves sweet pockets on the inside.”
The cafe serves decadent and savory varieties of the classic European breakfast treat, including Nutella, powdered sugar, goat cheese and chutney, and blueberry-topped waffles. In addition, Press Au Marche offers a handful of artisan baguette sandwiches, such as strawberries, brie and basil, marinated beets, chevre, arugula and rosemary walnuts, pastrami, pickled stone fruit and cracked pepper mayo, and mustard scallion chicken salad. The café will also serve salads, soups, and Anodyne Coffee and espresso beverages.
Press customers will also be able to purchase café merchandise, as well as snacks, condiments, and chocolates made by local vendors.
Rosko and Thomas have also said the café’s menu will include new seasonal selections each month. In the future, Press Au Marche would like to feature foods and beverages ideal for picnicking, among them bottles of wine and charcuterie and cheese plates.
From now through October 19, the café’s hours are 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Press Au Marche will also be open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays beginning October 19.
Oh, and if you want to do a taste comparison of the waffles at Cafe Benelux, it’s open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to midnight Friday, 7 a.m. to midnight Saturday and 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday.
If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits, all detailed here.