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Restaurant Spotlight: Bel50

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Bel50 is a new addition to the ever-expanding culinary scene in my neighborhood, Chicago’s River North. It is rare that I dine at the same restaurant twice in a month, but these waffles are addictive. The concept is this: thinner, more savory waffles that are used to create taco-esque (I just invented a word, deal with it) sandwiches. At first it might seem like a strange concept, but the execution of the dishes at Bel50 is spot on. The key is that the waffles are crisp, thin and flaky. They are not dense or thick; they do not overwhelm the fillings. The balance is just right.

My first visit to Bel50 was on opening weekend. I chose the Short Rib. My first reaction was to the price. I had read some reviews that said Bel50 was a little pricy. The short rib sandwich was $8.95! That is a great deal. Look people, this isn’t Panera. This is freshly cooked, hearty serving sizes, and much better quality and taste. Pay the extra couple of bucks for your lunch and be happy you are eating red wine braised short rib with a horseradish crème and not some dry precooked low quality steak at Panera.

This sandwich was exceptional. The waffle is folded over, and the meat placed inside. The waffle did hold together well as I ate. Some short rib fell out as I ate, simply because there was so much in the sandwich. The short rib was fall apart tender, and the red wine flavor did not overwhelm it. The horseradish crème was great even though I generally dislike horseradish. The arugula added a nice crisp and peppery flavor. All of this was on a flaky, bread-like waffle. One of the best sandwiches I had have in a long time. Bel50 had me hooked at the first bite.

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I didn’t even know what to do when I read the sweet (dessert) waffle options. I immediately informed my husband that my goal for the winter is to try all of them: crème brûlée, tiramisu, berries and cheesecake, strawberries and whipped cream, banana and nutella, lemon meringue, and baked apple. I settled on the Smores because Smores had been on my mind since the night before when I was sadly too full to try the Smores Pie at Bar Pastoral. It was phenomenal. You know how Smores are super messy because the Graham cracker breaks and then the chocolate and marshmallow ooze out? That doesn’t happen when it is in a waffle. Instead of trying to scarf it all down before it ended up in my lap, I got to take my time enjoying the warm melty treat. I was quite full from the short rib sandwich, but I couldn’t tear myself away from it.

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The following week Charles and I headed to Bel50 for breakfast. It was a bit more crowded than it was on our first visit, but our meal still came within 10 minutes. At Bel50 you order at the counter, grab a seat and a number, and then your meal is brought to you. The seating is very casual with some small tables and some big cafeteria style tables.

When we entered Bel50 we were hit with the enchanting scent of truffles. I read the menu determine20121210-184105.jpgd to order whatever item involved truffles. It was parmesan truffle tater tots. Yes please. I love tots, and I am game for classing them up with a bit of truffle and parmesan. With the side dish determined I needed to pick a breakfast. I ordered the cheesy eggs. It was a nice scramble with a good amount of cheddar, placed inside a waffle creating a breakfast sandwich. It was simple and it hit the spot. It would be nice if they gave some options for toppings; adding tomato or avocado would be nice. The tater tots lived up to their intoxicating scent. The parmesan and truffle topping eliminated the need for ketchup. Definitely a step above the tots at other eateries.

Bel50 replaced an old favorite brunch place of mine, Orange. Charles and I decided to grab brunch at Orange in November, and discovered that the restaurant that served my favorite variation of eggs benedict had been replaced with a sign simply saying Bel50 Opening Soon. We were quite disappointed; we didn’t expect Orange to be replaced with something even better. Bel50 is better because of its creative concept, solid ingredient pairings, boozy offerings, and much longer business hours. Change can be a good thing.

Bel50 is located at 738 North Clark. It is a short walk from both the Chicago Red and Brown line stops. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They also serve booze! They are open until midnight on Friday and Saturday.

bloodybest

Saturday 5th of January 2013

Sounds amazing! Interested in trying, especially when you mentioned they serve cocktails :) And had no clue that Orange had closed! At least there are other locations.

thekittchen

Monday 7th of January 2013

Are there still some locations open? I know that the one in River North, the one in Lakeview, and the one in West Town are all closed.

Anita C. Miller

Friday 4th of January 2013

This looks so good! I saw this restaurant and the chef demonstrating the waffle with creme brulee on the WGN midday news just a couple days ago. If you go on the WGN site and go to the 'lunchbreak' section there is a link to the recipe and the video of the chef making it. Makes me want to go out and buy a waffle iron!

Rob Moses

Friday 4th of January 2013

Yummy!

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