Perpetually #huangry. Occasionally #huangover.

#Huangry: Waffles at Tandem Creperie

In the pantheon of breakfast foods, I have long shunned waffles. It’s not that I wanted to. As you probably can imagine, I’m pretty accepting of anything edible. However, waffles were unintended casualties of my childhood—collateral damage when expectations did not meet reality. 

It all began with “Leggo my Eggo.” That expression from Eggo’s marketing campaigns really hit the mark with me, and it made their waffles seem like the coolest and most delicious thing ever. After all, as the commercials suggested, Eggos had to be incredible if you couldn’t bear to part with even one. The rhyming aspect—not lost on my childhood literary sensibilities—was just a bonus. 

Unfortunately, in practice, Eggos left a ton to be desired. Sleeves of frozen waffle-pucks aren’t exactly the most appealing presentation, and the preparation of these waffles required a significant amount of finesse. Toast them for too little time, and you’d get a warm outer shell with an icy interior. Toast them for too long, and you’d wind up with a crunchy grid that would invariably stab the roof of your mouth. Even microwaving these frozen waffles was a losing proposition: they’d turn into a hot, soggy, deflated grid, rescued only by the amount of maple syrup each pocket could contain.

I suppose there exists within the realm of possibility that there is a sublime Eggo experience, but that possibility is practically unattainable. Breakfast food shouldn’t be that hard. And so I tried to like Eggos. I really did. After a while, I simply couldn’t reconcile the marketing promise with sad, bland reality.

But recently, Brad and Kristen Hartmann of Tandem Creperie and Coffeehouse restored my waffle faith with their strawberry-Nutella whole-wheat option. It’s a substantial Belgian-style waffle, topped with local strawberries, house-made whipped cream, hefty smears of Nutella, and maple syrup. It’s a lot to take in, and indisputably sweet—a decadent dessert, almost. For me, what saves this rich plate is the batter. Rather than the coarse, hearty mouthfeel I typically associate with whole wheat products, this waffle is smooth—attributable to whole wheat that’s finely ground in-house with a Mahlkonig coffee grinder—and there’s a delightful depth that comes from having cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and clove mixed in. 

The waffle is also cooked to perfection: unbelievably soft and warm, but with crisp ridges ringing each pocket and impression. Combined with the cool, airy whipped cream and strawberries, there’s just enough texture, temperature, and flavor at play to keep this waffle from disappearing into a single note of over-sweetness. 

I suppose the only thing to do now is to make up for years of waffle avoidance.

(+) PROS 

  • Whole-wheat plus locally sourced or house-made toppings? That means this is healthy enough to justify all the sugar, right?
  • Texture and temperature play elevate this waffle above average, mediocre waffles.
  • Tandem’s yellow-accented color scheme pretty much puts you in a great mood even before you dig in.

(-) CONS

  • Definitely on the sweet side. You’ll likely want to pair this with some coffee to cut the sweetness. Luckily Tandem has a great coffee program as well. 
  • Seasonal and only available as long as the strawberries are.

Tandem Creperie and Coffeehouse
2 S Main St, Travelers Rest, SC
(864) 610-2245, tandemcc.com
Strawberry-Nutella whole-wheat waffle, $7.50

Originally published in the [Greenville Journal] on May 6, 2016.