BALLSTON SPA — When most people think of waffles, they think of the frozen kind in a box. But if you’ve got a waffle craving, you can do so much better — there’s a world of waffle wonders out there, and a good place to start is the Iron Roost in Ballston Spa.
My husband and I headed here recently for a nice weekend breakfast, and we were greeted just inside the door by a friendly staffer who told us that it was busy and there would be a bit of a wait for a table. But rather than have us wait around awkwardly, she offered to take our cellphone number and either call or text us when our table was ready, so we could go out and walk around the village a bit, which sounded like a much better option. We wandered back out into a nice spring day as my phone beeped: It was a text message, saying “Iron Roost: Your est. wait is 15 min.”
We headed down Front Street a bit to window-shop and note how many new businesses have moved in there since the last time we walked that street. There wasn’t a lot of time for shopping, though, because 11 minutes later, my phone beeped again: “Iron Roost: Your table is ready. Please see our host to be seated.” What a nice use of technology to make the customers’ experience more pleasant.
WHERE: 36 Front St., Ballston Spa, 309-3535; ironroost.com
HOURS: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, closed Mondays
OTHER INFO: Visa, MasterCard and Discover accepted; handicapped accessible; Wi-Fi available
Once inside, we headed up to the counter to place our orders; they don’t do full table service here. You order at the counter, and they give you a giant clothespin with a number clipped inside of it; go find a table and set the clothespin down where it’s visible, and the staff bring your food when it’s ready. The menu features breakfast and lunch items, almost all of them featuring a waffle in some way, from Belgian waffles with toppings to French toast cooked in a waffle iron to savory waffle-wrapped sandwiches.
While we waited for our food to come, we looked around, admiring the decor, which is very nice, sort of antique chic meets city loft, with one wall of exposed brick that gives the space a lot of character. We didn’t have too long to wait, though, before our breakfast arrived.
I ordered the lemon mascarpone and strawberry waffle with a side of sausage. The large Belgian waffle was perfectly crisp and had a nice flavor on its own, but it was topped with a generous layer of lemon mascarpone cheese, a pile of strawberry slices and a generous helping of whipped cream, plus a drizzle of syrupy lemon sauce.
The lemon flavor was bright and sweet without being cloying, and it played very well with the mascarpone as well as the strawberries, which were about as ripe and tasty as anyone can get at this time of year, when they’re not actually in season.
The whipped cream on top, which was fluffy and only slightly sweet, obviously homemade, pushed this dish over the edge from delicious to decadent. The sausage patties, which looked to have been hand-formed, were crisp around the edges and nicely seasoned throughout.
Of course, I couldn’t leave well enough alone. Somehow, I’d convinced myself that a waffle with sausage might not be enough food (it totally would have been), and so I ordered a liège waffle as well. Liège waffles are a different type of waffle, a Belgian treat that’s denser and chewier than you’d expect and studded with pearl sugar, so that when you’re eating, you crunch down on these sweet little nuggets from time to time. The waffle was redolent of nutmeg, slightly warm and entirely delicious, no syrup (or even a fork) needed.
My husband ordered the Iron Roost Brunch, which is a great option for someone who’s hungry but can’t quite decide what they want: It comes with a small Belgian waffle, two eggs any style, bacon, ham, sausage and half of a liège waffle, plus orange juice and coffee. He added a few extra charges by swapping the coffee for hot chocolate and adding cheddar cheese to his scrambled eggs, but it was still a steal.
He enjoyed everything on his plate, but he particularly raved about the bacon, which was perfectly cooked, not at all limp but not crispy to the point of being overdone, either.
When all was said and done, we were stuffed to the gills and thoroughly satisfied. We spent $39.59, including tax and a few bucks left on the table for a tip, and it was well worth every penny.