First look: Bruxie Gourmet Waffle Sandwiches opens Tuesday in Glendale
Denver, says Dean Simon, is prime culinary territory for a "markedly unique concept," in this case, a fast-casual, gourmet waffle sandwich shop that goes by the name of Bruxie, the "i" of which is roofed with black, red and yellow dots, the colors of which are representative of Belgium, home, of course, to the prized Belgian waffle.
Simon, along with his co-partner (and coffee connoisseur) Kelly Mullarney opened the first Bruxie store in Orange, California, in a 400-square-foot space that formerly held the city's original walk-up hamburger shack. Since then, the co-founders have opened an additional five stores across Southern California, choosing Denver as its first out-of-state location in which to share the waffle love. "We knew we wanted to take our concept out of Orange County, and as we were thinking of cities that really appreciate good food, Denver, from our perspective, was front and center as a city that's food- and chef-centric and would appreciate our concept," explains Simon. And the fact that he and Mullarney knew that they had two other very capable partners in Colorado, Jeff Goodman and Matt Stein -- both with formidable restaurant backgrounds -- just added more validity to their decision.
"At one point, we all knew each other and worked together in Southern California, and we're really excited about the formation of this partnership," says Stein, a chef who put in time at Le Cirque and the 101 Club in New York, Water Grill in Los Angeles and at the long-gone Gordon's in Aspen, a restaurant that earned the chef a coveted spot on Food & Wine magazine's Best New Chef roster. "Dean and Kelly created an amazing fast-casual concept with Bruxie: gourmet food with great guest service," adds Stein.
Goodman, for his part, managed the Four Seasons hotel in Philadelphia and opened a second one in Manhattan; oversaw operations and the wine program at various Morton's The Steakhouse restaurants; worked alongside Stephen Starr and assumed the role of director of restaurants -- and later vice president of strategic development and strategic planning -- for Starr's empire; and, most recently, held the position of COO of King's Seafood Company, which owns Water Grill.
And all four men have an unwavering affinity for the "bold fold" -- Bruxie jargon for the waffle sandwich. "From the outside -- not as a founder, but as chef -- it's all about making a great dish into a sandwich," says Stein. "It's about well thought out and composed flavors that really pop and explode, and it's about creating sandwiches where every ingredient has a purpose and the compelling flavors move you to the next bite," he notes.
And to that end, Bruxie's menu is chock-block with waffle sandwiches that do just that, zigzagging from savory waffles hugging grilled ham, Tilamook cheddar, eggs and a vibrant pesto arugula made with arugula to subtly sweet lemon cream-smeared waffles thumped with fresh blueberries. Waffle-cut fries double as nachos, the rippled potato slices painted with a Gruyere-and-cheddar cheese sauce and topped with shards of smoked bacon, snips of chives and squiggles of sour cream. And if for some crazy reason, waffles aren't in your food group, the restaurant also offers a slew of salads. Local products, including Red Bird chicken, jams made on the Western Slope and Haystack Mountain goat cheese, also make an appearance, and as the seasons change, so do the waffles, which, come peak fruit season, will take advantage of the fruit bounty of Palisades.