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After the Burger Bonanza I was really fascinated with Orange County, a place that most look at as a suburb of Los Angeles (those from outside of California) and that I happen to overlook when I am thinking of food, knowing that I was guilty of overlooking some creative sectors harbored within the sprawling county lines. Often denigrated by movies and television shows that depict it in an unflattering light, there is not as much praise heaped on the OC as there should be. Some random Huell Howser-worthy spots and clean beaches but nothing too exciting in the eats department, save for the random chefs sprinkled sparingly around the area, until I heard about Bruxië. A restaurant dedicated to the waffle, in all its incarnations. On a busy Friday, packed with a Ducks game, wine shop visit, wine tasting and party in a remote part of LA, I added the waffle burger to my to do list.
On my trek down South I was accompanied by a friend from work, someone also very involved in the wine scene, making the drive a little more palatable. Before we headed out I allowed him to rummage through my cellar and find a suitable companion for the pairing. He chose one of the more expensive bottles in my apartment collection—a forty-dollar K Vintners Syrah from Morrison Lane (# 298).
I transferred a fair amount of the contents to my flask and we enjoyed a glass of the wine remaining. Packed with a surprising bit of fruit, the wine was not necessarily a Northern Rhone Syrah with the signature bacon fat and green olives but it did blend in some savory components too. With good structure, refined tannins and a long and favorable finish the wine was looking good on its own.
We crisscrossed the Southern California freeways, navigating through an unbelievable amount of traffic for the hour of day to arrive at Bruxië, near Chapman University. It took a while, enough for us both to build up a ravenous hunger and to exhaust my collection of Dr. Dog CDs.
Surveying the surroundings, the building was small; enough to house the kitchen and that was it. Patrons were seated all around the establishment and there were lots of them, basking in the warm rays of the sun. There was one thing I was really not a fan of which was the merchandise case that happened to crowd the counter. I like the idea of being marketable, but food comes first, especially if you are a restaurant; marketing items come unforced and many years down the line. Looking on, we took some time to order, trying to test the joint by coming up with a perfect collection of foods that would compliment our intended reason for the trip—the burger (hope you didn’t forget)—and prove the hypothesis that the waffle is the ideal bread item to be coupled with a wide array of fare, not just novel.
We ordered a couple of burgers, a hotdog, some waffle fries and the Ogura dessert filled with red bean paste. Not too long of a wait before we had our food and the presentation was classic red basket attire, the only difference was that the bulk of the food was waffle wrapped instead of the customary sartorial buns. Minor difference.
I pulled out my flask, and doled out our respective 2.5-ounce pours—this flask was tiny—and proceeded to chow down. Egads my first cheese burger! Due to an oversight on the menu, I had forgot to customize my order and was forced to consume a heaping helping of cheese. It happened to be a saving grace because the burger lacked sufficient seasoning and the cheese added the perfect amount of fat to compensate and make for a richer flavor, otherwise it was pretty bland. To make matters worse, they had overcooked my friend’s patty, making it tougher to finish. The ingredients were fresh and simple but did not really pop and the waffle was out of proportion, leaving behind a gluten trail too large to get through. And that was the theme for the meal; the hotdog was lost inside of the folded waffle not even the sauerkraut could save it. The waffle fries and dessert were finer items rounding out the order but not worth the excursion or the price.
The wine pairing also helped abate the problems with the patty and the over sized waffles but in the end we were disappointed, having been excited about the prospect of finding the perfect oddball burger, we’d instead encountered an expensive bust.
My Ducks also ended their night with a heartbreaking loss, bursting my Orange County bubble, not for good but definitely for a little while. The day was not really a disappointment though, I got to hangout with some friends, have a successful, albeit, one-sided wine pairing and reinforce the notion that there is no real substitute for the classic burger in its most basic outfit.