UPDATE: The Taste of Belgium location in the Wexner Center has CLOSED. The North Market location is open.]
Taste of Belgium (Facebook / @TOBWex)
1871 N. High St. (inside the Wexner Center for the Arts)
Columbus, OH 43210
Open Mon-Fri, 8 am – 4 pm
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Date of Visit: Monday, January 31, 2011 at 12:30 p.m.
IMPRESSIONS: I’ve been a fan of Taste of Belgium’s waffles for some time now, having first discovered them when they opened a stall at the North Market. If you’ve never tried one of their signatures, you’re missing an opportunity to re-define how you think about waffles. Here they serve the authentic Belgian version, which are very unlike your thin, flat toaster-made waffle. A true Belgian waffle (Liege-style, at least) is made using a thick batter infused with beet sugar. The waffle is smaller, thicker, marbled with caramelized sugars, and a wonderful hand-held snack.
The Wexner location is Taste of Belgium’s second in Columbus. The Wexner announced months ago that they were seeking a replacement for the generic Cam’s on Campus. In my opinion, ToB is the perfect fit for the Wexner: still a casual cafe and coffee shop, but with an international flair.
ATMOSPHERE: You can find the cafe by heading down the big staircase in the Wexner’s main entryway. It’s hard to miss once you get to the lower floor (where you’ll also find the entrances to the bookstore, video theatre, galleries, etc.). Line yourself up to order at the counter.
You may have to step forward to grab a menu while you wait in line. This isn’t too bad to deal with if you’re know about it, but I think it would be handy if they put more of their menu on the wall. You can help out, though: once you’re done with your menu, be a pal and pass it back to the next person.
There’s a fair amount of seating around the cafe. Once you’ve ordered, take your number and find a table. Be advised that, during peak hours, tables can fill up. You are on the campus of the largest university in America, after all.
The cafe seating is nice and bright, even though you’re partially below ground.
FOOD: Because this location of ToB is more of a traditional cafe, their menu is expanded beyond the waffles, crepes, and coffee offered in the North Market. The market is aimed more so at the walk-and-eat crowd. Here you’ll find the full coffee shop lineup of drinks: espresso, lattes, cappuccinos, all made using coffee from Coffee Emporium in Cincinnati. Other drinks include hot and cold cider, tea, or blended drinks using coffee or fruit. Food-wise, you’ve got sweet and savory crepes; soup, salad, and sandwiches; fruit, yogurt, and muesli; frittatas; and oatmeal. Really a nice mix.
Taste of Belgium’s signature piece is the waffle, so the cafe offers a couple different spins on it. I ordered the Waffles Rancheros.
The Rancheros takes one of their waffles, and adds a small souffle-like pile of scrambled eggs, topped with a spicy salsa. Comes with a side salad with a dash of vinaigrette.
Nice cross section of it. The Rancheros are a little hard to cut with a fork and knife – the eggs are fluffy but the waffle’s a little crisp. Still, the combination of sweet waffle, savory eggs, and spicy salsa comes together well. Add the salad to that, and baby, you’ve got a lunch on.
If you’re in a sweeter mood (awww…), you can order the waffle with toppings. You have a choice of fruit – that day it was blueberries or bananas – plus optional whipped cream (note: whipped cream is not really an optional thing). The fruit and sweet cream are a nice complement to the dense, sugary waffle.
SERVICE: Despite the sometimes long lines (especially in between classes), the food service is pretty quick. If you’re eating in the cafe, just take your number to your table and they’ll find you. The folks behind the counter are nice – not terribly talkative – but nice nonetheless.
OVERALL: I’m very glad to have Taste of Belgium on campus. I think the fit is perfect for the Wexner Center, and it offers an alternative to the fast food along High Street or all the campus-run cafeterias. I hope that the campus community appreciates what we have here, and that Taste of Belgium becomes a mainstay of OSU dining.
-> full Taste of Belgium website