The winter chill and the beginning of crazy season for me at work means that I have been craving some good hearty comfort foods. And there are few things more satisfying at times like this than a big, over-the-top brunch. I’ve been curious to check out Iron Roost in Ballston Spa for a while now after hearing nothing but positive things about the creative, waffle-centric menu, and a free day this past weekend (not spent at work!) was the perfect opportunity to make the trek north and see what all of the fuss was about.
For those unfamiliar with Iron Roost, the menu is almost entirely composed of waffle dishes. There are classic sweet breakfast items, like a double stacked set of blueberry waffles or one with lemon mascarpone and strawberries. There are also a number of savory options with a thinner waffle shell that serves as a makeshift bread or pita shell, like a grilled cheese option or an egg sandwich. And even a number of fresh salad options come with a folded up thin waffle wedge.
I figured the place would be busy on a weekend at prime brunch time, so luckily I checked ahead of time to see if there was a wait. Boy, was there – more than an hour wait already at 9:00 am. Thankfully you can use a number of online apps to reserve a place on line, including Yelp. It’s also worth noting that you might want to check out the menu ahead of time to get an idea of what you want to order, because there isn’t traditional table service. You place your order at the counter once there is a free table for you, and then it is brought out to you in more of a fast-casual type of dining experience.
But most importantly: the food. I ordered the bananas foster waffle, which has sliced bananas, a cinnamon-rum sauce, and fresh whipped cream, topped with a (sadly off-season) strawberry.
I thought the portion size on this dish was perfect, although my will power probably would have been no match for another luscious square of waffle perfection. The sauce was rich and decadent, and the heaping portion of whipped cream melted smoothly into each bite. This was everything I hoped it would be when I was first checking out the menu.
I can’t say the same for our savory choice, which was the steak and eggs waffle, including sauteed mushrooms, onions, and cheddar cheese on a thin waffle shell with a side of steak sauce.
I think the main problem was that the eggs were completely cooked to death and dry. Maybe if it was less of a perfectly formed, over done, mixed omelette type of presentation, and actually more of a messy, scrambled eggs presentation, it would have been less bland. The eggs didn’t have a lot of flavor, and the thin waffle shell didn’t help much. It was neither crunchy nor soft and flavorful, so it just kind of existed on the outside of the eggs.
We also tried a side of home fries with the Iron Roost’s hot sauce, which I had noticed for sale in bottles near the entrance. The potatoes were served in big chunks and were very blackened, but they didn’t have nearly as much crunch as you might expect. The hot sauce was a green variety with a mid-level of spice, and it was interesting but probably not something I loved enough to buy a whole bottle of.
The main takeaways from this outing are to plan ahead if you want to visit Iron Roost, as the lines can be pretty brutal, and also to stick to the sweet waffle options. Our savory steak and eggs waffle was disappointing, and a few other sandwich style offerings that I saw at nearby tables looked lackluster as well. Although the restaurant certainly gets points for a creative approach, sometimes it’s best to just do one basic thing really well. In this case, it’s the lovely brunch comfort food that is a well executed waffle with sweet toppings, fruit, and whipped cream.