Top Cloud (Cafe): Duluth, GA, USA
It is rare that I post an entry that totally rips a place apart, but I have to do food justice, especially when a place soils the very reputation for which this food is known for. Top Cloud has definitely done a monstrosity of a job in butchering what is the infamous Belgian Liege waffle.
First, I want to introduce to you the Liege waffle. It is a waffle whose home hails from Belgium. I personally call the Liege waffle, the Harry Potter waffle because it is simply magic in your mouth. Also known as the “sugar waffle”, it is made with pearls of sugar in the batter. When it is spooned onto the waffle griddle, the sugar pearls melt as the batter cooks. Pearls that melt on the outside give a caramelization that sometimes gives a bit of a crisp to the waffle. However, the magic is what happens to the pearls that get caught in the middle of the waffle: they melted into tiny surprising pools of warm syrup that catch you off guard when you bite into the steamy golden buttery waffle. Here is an actual recipe off of wordpress that I found if you ever wanted to try it. They also have marvelous pictures to contrast the atrocity that I am about to post as evidence of pure garbage. Below is my own picture of my first liege waffle in Brussels – see that pocket of sugar oozing at the top? The color is gorgeous, and it shows the crust and the fluffiness of the waffle.
The reason why I am going to tear this cafe apart is because I ordered what I loved: a plain liege waffle, and it was d-e-s-t-r-o-y-e-d. I feel like I can say this because I have had plenty of liege waffles from Belgium itself, and so you cannot say that I am making up what I am tasting, considering that I have actually tasted the original liege waffle as well as multiple variations of it. I am sure though, that there will be other people who have never had the real thing and think that this stuff is amazing. It’s kind of the same concept as eating packet ramen noodles with the instant msg powder without having tasted real legitimate ramen made by a chef. If someone serves you the packet ramen in a nice bowl in a restaurant, you’re going to think it’s amazing only because you don’t know any better right?
Moving onward with the more important information…
This waffle at Top Cloud was tiny. It was about 1/3 smaller than the liege waffle in Brussels and about half of the length of a plastic knife. In addition, it was slightly warm, as if it had been placed under a heating lamp. It’s supposed to be HOT, as in fresh off the griddle which is how it is served in Belgium because they are made to order while you wait in line. Thirdly, it was crusty. The crust is supposed to be simply on the outer surface of the waffle, not 50-75% of the way through. And last but not least, there was absolutely no sugar pockets whatsoever. In fact, I was so convinced that there was no sugar in there, that I ripped open the remaining 1/4 of the waffle and there was essentially just bread. It was almost like…a pretzel.
Yes, it doesn’t even warrant for me to capitalize that word. Another word I have is atrocity. The price for one plain liege waffle is $2.95. I paid almost three dollars for a tiny piece of bread. Going to Waffle House and getting a fluffy cake-batter waffle and then having them re-toast it with a glaze of syrup is better than this crap I actually tried to eat. I can’t even believe I tried to eat it after the first bite, but it was probably because I paid $3 for it! The service is also terrible – I bus’ed my own table because nobody would clean it up. We ended up waiting about 30 minutes for our waffles. It doesn’t take that long to make waffles because in Belgium they do it within minutes, and they can make about 3-4 per batch! As Top Cloud has a large menu of waffle variations, it is my guess that they didn’t just buy one waffle maker for multiple orders.
I realize that there are a lot of establishments that try to come up with a novel idea by bringing a great product to a new environment, but you have to stick to why the product was great to begin with. If not, you not only do the product (in this case the food) a huge injustice, but the manner at which the establishment is hyped up essentially becomes one huge lie. Truth be told, they probably don’t care. It is an Asian-owned establishment and many of them don’t care about legitimacy, only about profit. I’ll save my rant about korean coffee shops and watered down ice-coffee for another day.
I definitely do not recommend trying this place as the summary of the food is as follows:
- plain liege waffle: (0 stars) – not even an A for effort folks.
If you wanted to actually try this place out on your own, as I might do again to see if they have improved their products any, you can find them here:2131 Pleasant Hill Rd
Duluth, GA 30096