Liege waffles have hit LA. A popular street food in Liege, the third largest city in Belgium, these waffles are flatter, denser and sweeter than their sister, the Belgian waffle. They are crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside and are made with chunks of pearl sugar, which caramelize on the outside of the waffle when baked. Not one, but two cafes have opened in LA in the past two years which specialize in Liege waffles.
Shaky Alibi on Beverly Boulevard in the Fairfax/Mid-City area is a polished, European-looking cafe with a ladies-who-lunch feel to it. The menu is limited to coffee, tea and chocolate drinks, Liege waffles, yogurt parfaits and ice cream. You can order your Liege waffles plain with powdered sugar, with an imported Belgian spread such as dark chocolate or speculoos (a Belgian speciality made with ground cookies) or with bananas, pecans and strawberries. Their menu also offers “Savory Waffles” with choice of Swiss, Cheddar or Fontina cheese and mesquite smoked turkey or Black Forest ham. This is something that sounded really appealing to me, but when I ordered one, it was not what I was expecting. I thought these “Savory Waffles” would be waffles baked with pieces of meat and cheese inside. Instead, they turned out to simply be a sandwich served on a split waffle; a good sandwich, but a sandwich nonetheless.
Syrup Desserts has a hip, urban vibe. It’s open until midnight every night and is on Spring Street in a funky party of Downtown. They have shelves of classic board games like Trivial Pursuit and The Game of Life for you to play while drinking their cappuccinos and consuming their waffles! Although I go there for Liege waffles, Syrup Desserts also serves buttermilk waffles and Belgian waffles, as well as crepes and a variety of pastries. Their menu offers an extensive list of waffle concoctions including a Caramel Apple Waffle which is served with dulce de leche ice cream, fresh sliced apples, cinnamon, caramel and vanilla sauce. If you’re looking for something savory, they have several varieties of grilled cheese sandwiches including Asian Pear & Gouda and Blackberries, Muenster & Walnuts.
Which of these two joints is better? Both have great waffles, but I’m a bigger fan of Syrup Desserts. For one thing, I found the service to be disappointing at Shaky Alibi. When we were there last, there was only one poor guy taking all the orders, running the register, making the waffles and bussing the tables; needless to say, the wait was extremely long and it wasn’t even that crowded. Also, I slightly prefer the waffles at Syrup Desserts. I like that I could get a Liege waffle with chocolate chips actually baked inside the waffle at Syrup Desserts whereas Shaky Alibi only puts things on top of their waffles. The service was much better at Syrup Desserts, although it should be noted that due to its Downtown location, parking can be a bitch.
Shaky Alibi is located at 7401 Beverly Blvd. in Los Angeles. Syrup Desserts is located at 611 South Spring St. in Downtown Los Angeles.