The Wafflian Belgian Waffle and Cupcake Bar opened a couple weeks ago as a sweet addition to the Village by the Grange food court. Nestled deep among fast food restaurants, this dessert bar has been luring in visitors with its tempting aromas and glitzy decor.
Opening The Wafflian has been a shared dream for owner Terry Jung and his wife. Jung had aspired to open a dessert shop since immigrating to Toronto when he was in high school. He later met his wife, a skilled baker, who shared his ambition.
The double-whammy offering of waffles and cupcakes makes for a unique business model, but it is really the product of marital compromise: "I really love the waffle business. My wife wanted the cupcake business." After testing recipes together for about four years, they opened The Wafflian, the name being an inverted hybrid of "Belgian" and "waffle."
"People come by because of the smell. And then they see it. And then they taste. And then they keep coming back," Jung explains to me when I popped by one dreary weekday evening. Since opening, Jung and his wife have been incredibly busy (and sleep-deprived), but the heavy traffic is exactly what they planned for when they picked the location. "Students are focused on trying new things, the new trends," observes Jung, and he hopes OCAD students flock to check out the new bakery in their midst.
In addition to its novelty, it seems The Wafflian's eye-catching decor and efficient service add to its appeal for busy students and passersby, rushing between classes or on their way home. With the shop's sparkly white brick walls, glitzy chandeliers, pink accents, and charming faux patio out front, it's hard not to notice.
Jung was going for a European cafe vibe with a hint of vintage, but no matter what you call it, The Wafflian definitely stands out from your typical food court style. While there is some seating available, the quick service and portable packaging make for a sweet grab-and-go snack.
Jung emphasizes to me that their focus is on quality taste and perfectly moist cupcakes. Cupcakes come in a wide range of flavours, including classics like double vanilla, double chocolate, and red velvet, as well as more distinctive options like banana with banana icing, chocolate coconut, and green tea ($2.95 each, $16.95 for a half-dozen, $31.95 per dozen).
I couldn't resist trying chocolate peanut butter--one of Jung's favourites. The cake was moist, with a rich cocoa flavour. The creamy peanut butter icing was just sweet enough to balance the cake and to satisfy my early evening sugar craving. What started as a few dainty forkfuls quickly became big, messy bites as I finished it off.
Intrigued, I also tried the green tea cupcake with cream cheese icing. The green tea cake is perfect for those looking for a less sweet option, Jung explains. I found the subtle sweetness and green tea flavour appealing, but the icing was a bit too rich, even for me (an avid icing enthusiast), and overpowered the cake. The green tea cupcake with vanilla icing may be a better option for tea lovers.
As for the waffles, The Wafflian offers two varieties. As promised by Jung, the Liege waffle had a crispy, caramelized outside and a dense, soft dough ($4 for original, $4.50 for chocolate). The chocolate Liege, topped with rich, Belgian chocolate sauce, tasted indulgent and satisfying with just a few bites.
The other waffle option, the Brussels waffle ($4.25 for original, $4.75 for chocolate), was lighter in texture and flavour. However, the chocolate Brussels waffle was too light - the chocolate taste was barely noticeable--especially compared to its Liege counterpart. I found that the additional toppings were necessary for it to feel like a real treat - ice cream, whipped cream, and strawberries can be added to waffles at extra charge.
The Wafflian also offers shaved ice desserts, and a range of beverages including sparkling water, brewed coffee, teas, hot chocolate, and "crĂ¨me" (frothed milk) in sweet potato, green tea, and pumpkin flavours.
The Wafflian is currently open weekdays 8am-8pm, but may soon open on Saturdays to meet demand. While Toronto has its fair share of quality cupcake shops, it seems the neighbourhood appreciates the convenient location and sweet snacks of this combo cupcake/waffle joint.
Photos by Morris Lum