You could drive past it hundreds of times and not even notice it’s there. This stretch of East Hastings can look a little sketchy, even if it’s also known as “Wedding Street” for the abundance of wedding-related stores in the area. A few steps away from a popular dim sum restaurant is a newly opened establishment called Just Waffles and, well, you can probably guess what their specialty is.
The inside of the shop is very brightly colored in bold orange and blue, almost borrowing a color scheme that is Dutch-inspired. Just Waffles is a very small restaurant that looks like it’s trying to cater mostly to the “take it and go” crowd, but there are three small tables inside for a total seating area of less than a dozen people. That was one of our first challenges upon arriving one sunny Sunday morning, as all three of the tables were occupied.
While they don’t go quite as substantial as the waffle “sandos” that we had at Miura Waffle Milk Bar, Just Waffles also approaches the more savory end of things with breakfast waffles and pizza waffles too.
I have mixed feelings on the pricing. On the one hand, you’re not really spending that much more than you would on getting a crepe or something similar, but when you get a waffle to go on its own, you’re spending quite a bit more than you would typically spend on a muffin, donut or some other pastry. Indeed, even the Belgian waffles at Cafe Medina were slightly cheaper at $3.15 each, though you did have to spend an extra dollar to get the dipping sauce. In this case, though, the price jumps to $6 if you want a single topping on your flavored Liege waffle.
The first point of disappointment for me is that the waffles are not made to order at Just Waffles. They just sit in the display case, though you can optionally request for them to warmed up in the microwave. That being said, as I understand it, the waffles at Cafe Medina aren’t made to order either.
Lucky for us, one of the tables finished shortly after we placed our order, so we had a place to sit. We were there for our Sunday brunch, so we figured it would only be appropriate to have the breakfast waffle.
Pairing the maple waffle with bacon was a natural fit, giving a nice mix of sweet and savory. The egg was overcooked for my tastes, though having it served on a small paper plate with plastic cutlery didn’t exactly provide the best of experiences. Even if the focus is on takeout, Just Waffles should invest in some real plates and real cutlery.
While I’m not sure the coconut shavings really added $2 of value (a 50% increase!), the Nutella waffle itself was quite nice. Then again, I like just about anything with Nutella in it. There’s a nice layer of the chocolatey hazelnut goodness in there, perhaps making this one of the better options for a waffle snack on the go. The waffle itself has a diameter of about five inches or so.
For good measure, we grabbed one extra waffle for a snack later. The brownie waffle, after being heated up in the microwave for about 15 seconds, was really more brownie than it was waffle. It wasn’t quite as dense as many of the brownies that I’ve had, but it sure packed the same rich, chocolate flavor.
As an idea, Just Waffles sounds like it’s on to something. Our city is constantly looking for some fresh takes on old concepts and that’s how we’ve come to embrace crepes, cupcakes and expensive donuts. In execution, however, Just Waffles still has a lot of room to grow.
The lack of seating is a problem. The waffles aren’t made to order either, but we still had to wait quite some time for our breakfast and topped waffles. The location can leave a little something to be desired too, though they may be able to pick up some foot traffic from the nearby bus loop. And those paper plates have got to go. For now, I have a hard time recommending Just Waffles, but if they overcome some of these growing pains, they could tap into some serious potential.