Bewaffled and bewildered at Bel 50 | Bleader

Bewaffled and bewildered at Bel 50



Short rib avec waffle
Bel 50, which is across North Clark Street from Zed 451, and next door to a restaurant called 25 Degrees*, is a fast-casual restaurant that serves sandwiches on waffles. So, by way of background, that's about all you need to know about Bel 50.

I know what you're thinking: How are the waffles? Well, they're OK. These aren't the kind of waffles that, were you to have one on its own, you would feel moved to slap some chicken salad on it. Nonetheless, that's the program here.

The vexing thing is that there's nothing distinctive about these waffles, which are wrapped, taco style, around their fillings. They are no more or less than a vehicle to encase the fillings, which are generally pretty good—fresh, and not too heavy. The menu features the sort of decent middlebrow selection you see in other sandwich places that don't sub waffles for bread: barbecued pulled pork, a Reuben, smoked salmon with chive creme fraiche, prosciutto and Brie with fig jam. Short rib with horseradish is pleasingly tender, and the red wine it's been braised in lends it a nice astringent note.

Then it's served on a waffle.

The honey-mustard glaze served with fried chicken is more mustard than honey—to my mind, a good thing—and then that, too, is served on a waffle. (Under other circumstances this would be a clever chicken-and-waffles reference.) Bacon on a BLT is crisp, and a light touch has been used with the mayo—these are good fillings! They're put on a waffle.

A couple salads are available, and sides too—"Parmesan-truffle tater tots," for instance, which are pretty much like regular tater tots. I wouldn't have minded if they were fried a little harder. It's not immediately apparent that something listed on the dessert menu as "lemon meringue pie" will come on a waffle; like so much in life, this was only inevitable with the benefit of hindsight. It was quite good, anyway, a flat little folded-over package of tart lemon custard, to which the addition of a waffle didn't seem so aggressively irrelevant. On the other hand, it would've been better with pie crust.

738 N Clark, 312-496-3948,

*Which, not for nothing, has a tab on its website devoted to "Ambiance," but you have to have a special plug-in to see it.