Gourmet Waffle Sandwiches: Trending in Chicago at BEL 50...a Windy City First.

Gourmet Waffle Sandwiches: Trending in Chicago at BEL 50...a Windy City First.

CHICAGO, Thursday, September 27, 2012. Hello waffles, goodbye doughnuts, so long cupcakes....the next trend coming straight out of California to the Windy City is a healthier, tastier and lower-calorie alternative...the gourmet waffle sandwich.

Chicagoans, who have jumped onto the chicken and waffle bandwagon will get their first taste of its more upscale cousin, the gourmet waffle sandwich, when BEL 50 opens its doors this October at 738 North Clark Street in River North.   BEL 50, derived its name from  the location of Belgium which is at 50 degrees north latitude.

The modern, fast-casual restaurant was founded by former hedge fund manager Tim Jandovitz. Celebrity Chef and Director of Culinary Development Joey Altman, acclaimed San Francisco-based chef and Executive Chef Robert Bruno - who has served as an educator at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Chicago for the past eight years will collaborate with Jandovitz in the day-to-day culinary operations of the restaurant.

BEL 50's gourmet waffle sandwiches, come in sweet and savory, and can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The savory waffles contain ingredients including smashed avocado, prosciutto, Brie, caramelized onions, pulled pork, banana, peanut butter and fig chutney while the dessert waffles run the gamut with mouth-watering creations including Crème Brulee, Tiramisu, Lemon Meringue Pie and even S'mores.

"Our signature waffle bread is light, crisp, and airy on the outside and soft on the inside," explains Chef Altman, who also hosted Bay Cafe, a James Beard-winning food-magazine television show, for 10 years. "The waffles are not sweet, but instead taste similar to textured country bread." Each waffle contains 80 percent less sugar (than a typical Brussels waffle); 220 calories, 27 grams of carbs with gluten-free options available.

In addition to waffle sandwiches, BEL 50 will offer shakes and floats made with seasonal fruits, house made syrups, natural sodas and Honest Tea plus locally roasted coffee from Intelligentsia. The waffle sandwiches range in price from $4 to $9.

BEL 50,(located in the former space occupied by Orange) was designed by Norr Limited.  The interior space is sleek and clean with low community tables located throughout the dining room evoking a vibrant, "town center" feeling. The walls adjacent to the area will be adorned with images of old Belgium presented in a new fashion, stamped together to create an asymmetrical, graffiti-like art wall that serves as a focal point. Large, textured pendant light fixtures will hang over the community tables and glow at night, allowing passersby a view of the bustling dining room through BEL 50's large front windows.

BEL 50 will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The exact opening date and full menus will be announced soon.

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