While Cincinnati's a city known for its German heritage, it has certainly embraced the cuisine of Belgium, especially their waffles. The recent opening of a third location of Jean-François Flechet’s Taste of Belgium is proof of that.
The newest location of Taste of Belgium is in Rookwood Exchange – the new, upscale development in the suburb of Norwood – a 10-minute drive from downtown Cincinnati.
The motto at Taste of Belgium is “Respect the Waffle,” and they take that creed seriously.
Taste of Belgium's known for their waffles, for good reason — Photo courtesy of Taste of Belgium
The waffles are different than what most Americans expect. Rather than being made from a batter, they're made from a thick dough. The recipe was passed down through generations of Flechet’s family in Liège, Belgium, and then perfected by Flechet.
The other unique characteristic of these waffles is that they contain coarse Belgian beet sugar that caramelizes inside the waffle iron, making them sweet enough to eat without any syrup or toppings.
Taste of Belgium Rookwood is open seven days a week, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, offering the same menu as its sister locations. It includes not only waffles, but also sweet and savory crepes, soups, salads, sandwiches and steak, along with French fries and other sides.
The menu also includes wine, beer, Belgian roast coffee and an expanded pastry line, created by Executive Pastry Chef Lisa Kindle.
Interior of Taste of Belgium's Rookwood bistro — Photo courtesy of Taste of Belgium
The newest location has a bright and modern vibe. Flechet and the Taste of Belgium team worked with many local artists and companies to create an atmosphere that echoes the other locations yet still reflects the neighborhood it’s in.
“Here at Rookwood, we are taking the company to a new level. The décor and attention to detail punctuate that,” says Flechet.
The bistro has a private dining room, chef’s table and a large patio for outdoor dining. Reservations are available for early dinner seating only (at 5 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m).
While you could order something other than a waffle, a visit to Taste of Belgium wouldn’t be complete without trying one of their waffles. Waffles are what have been bringing people to Taste of Belgium from the beginning.
In 2007, Flechet visited Belgium and brought back a 120-pound cast-iron waffle iron. He set up a waffle stand in a Findlay Market produce store, and it quickly became so popular that he needed to find a new location.
Flechet still maintains a waffle and crepe stand in Findlay Market, but now he's got several locations all his own, too.
The Taste of Belgium bistros offer the same popular waffles from the original waffle stand, while chefs add further culinary touches.
“We take traditional Belgian recipes and we twist them; we take American classics and we Belgianize them,” says Flechet.
The result is a unique Belgian-American fusion that Cincinnati has come to love.