WANDA’S BELGIAN WAFFLES (335 Yonge, at Gould, 416-593-0999) Complete snacks for $6 per person, including all taxes, tip and an Illy coffee. Average main $3. Open Monday to Thursday 8 am to 10 pm, Friday and Saturday 8 am to 2 am, Sunday and holidays 10 am to 10 pm. No reservations. Unlicensed. Access: one step at door, no washrooms. Rating: NN
No relation to Wanda's Pie in the Sky, this Wanda has all the makings of a very successful franchise: innovative product, cheap prices and low operating costs. However, if Wanda wants to saturate the market like Smoke's, she'll have to get her act together.
A veritable hole-in-the-wall just north of the AMC and around the corner from Ryerson, this first of several planned Wanda's is extremely small - three customers and the joint's at capacity. And since everything's made to order, there can be a bit of a wait.
But it's worth it if just for the house Liège-style vanilla waffle. Dusted with confectioner's sugar, it's cake-ier than a pancake-batter waffle and makes great cold-weather street food when coupled with a cuppa mellow Illy coffee ($2.49 solo/$2.99 with coffee). There are also terrific cinnamon and maple flavours (both $2.69).
Wanda's problems start when she tries to get fancy. Adding either ice-cream-parlour-style chocolate or caramel syrup (both an exorbitant $1.49 extra) might seem like obvious upgrades, but they turn the waffles into sticky knife 'n' fork affairs. The addition of strawberries ($2.29) only makes them messier, while the whipped cream ($1.49) I add liquefies by the time I get it back to the Test Kitchen.
The panini pictured on the menu look nothing like what you get and come on low-budget flatbread instead of sandwich-pressed Calabrese. A very basic Croque Monsieur ($4.99) contains a minimum of ham and Swiss, while the "Thai sauce" served with Wanda's "famous" chicken breast panini tastes suspiciously like mayonnaise to me.
And after two weeks of poutine, there's no way I'm going anywhere near Wanda's "jumbo hot dog with all the trimmings ($3.99)" without a pre-emptive shot of Pepto-Bismol.