The waffles at Shaky Alibi, a new coffee bar and wafflerie on Beverly Boulevard, are markedly different from those famously large, fluffy Belgian waffles served down the street at the Fairfax Farmers Market. These Liège waffles, named for the city in Belgium where they're sold by cart-toting street vendors, are smaller and sweeter, with a crust of caramelized sugar that stays crisp even when topped with slices of fresh strawberries. For Belgian expats and globe-trotting gourmands, it's the Holy Grail of waffles.
Owner R. J. Milano explains (after only a little prodding) that the Liège waffle's distinctive crust comes from Belgian pearl sugar, which he imports on a regular basis to mix into the yeast dough. Unlike cubed sugar, or even pearl sugars made elsewhere, "Belgian pearl sugar is pressed for days at a time, so that its large chunks explode when ironed, dispersing over the waffle's surface," crusting into sweet pockets of sugar.
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Each made to-order waffle that emerges from the iron is perfectly sweet, without the need for embellishment. And yet, when topped with Speculoos, a traditional spread made from grinding up the popular graham cracker-like cookies of the same name, the waffles somehow seem even more perfect. The spread, which Milano imports in both creamy and crunchy consistencies, adds hints of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom, and nutmeg, and tastes like Christmas.
Though not typically the most sought-after treat in the heat of summer, Milano's Liège waffles have gained a devoted following in the month since opening. They've also diversified. He constructs his waffles into ice cream sandwiches using ice cream from Rori's Organic Creamery in Santa Barbara, and he recently added savory waffles to the menu, each served with a choice of meat and cheese.
Shaky Alibi: 7401 Beverly Blvd., Mid city. (323) 938-5282.