June 23, 2006
Out of Luck

Bacon works wonders with whatever it is combined, except Belgian waffles, I just discovered at Sacramento’s midtown Lucky Cafe.

Nothing, I’m now convinced, can save a Belgian waffle – not strawberries, not whipped cream, not even bacon.

For years, the Lucky Cafe has had on its breakfast menu one of my culinary vices, though it’s just a misdemeanor, not a felony.

It’s a waffle with bits of bacon in the batter, topped with one egg over easy, a scoop of butter, a sprinkling of black pepper and some maple syrup. It’s a kid’s dish, granted, but sometimes a bit of throwback comfort is needed, and this was one of those times.

At any rate, any waffle that includes bacon, butter, pepper and maple syrup can’t go wrong, or so I thought until I tasted the Lucky Cafe’s version of this simple breakfast tradition.

Once upon a time, the Lucky Cafe made the dish with the customary oldtime waffle, wider and thinner than the Belgian waffle. It was darn near perfect then. That’s what I was expecting.

What I got, however, was a Belgian waffle, which, if nothing else, proves that bigger isn’t necessarily better. The ridges are higher, the wells deeper, which may sound like a brilliant invention. Just picture how much more syrup a Belgian waffle can hold, which must have been the inspiration behind the novelty.

But the overall effect is a waffle heavier and doughier than the sort that happily met the nation’s hunger for waffles for generations. A Belgian waffle doesn’t darken and crisp up like an old-fashioned waffle, so right away you lose the waffle’s customary toastiness.

Then, to make a Belgian waffle even marginally edible you find yourself pouring on the syrup, throwing the whole composition out of balance.

I hadn’t heard that the Lucky Cafe had modernized what had been a fine bacon waffle. When I asked the server when the switch had been made, she said it was at least three years ago.

It may be that long before I return.

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