I have a thing for small one-off eateries, so while I was driving down Cambie a couple of weeks ago I practically yelled at Melanie to “write that down!” while pointing erratically at the Dutch Wooden Shoe Cafe. Located on Cambie Street, the cafe does little to actually stand out, apart from some unique window dressing and a small sign.
Returning a few weeks later, we were eager to start our experience. The walls, which divide the cafe into 3 main areas, are stacked with beer glasses and mugs etched with the insignias of breweries from all around. It’s actually quite an interesting collection, and I found myself distracted from the menu at points by some of the items. There was a healthy energy inside brought on by several tables filled with patrons to contrast with enough empty seats to make the place seem inviting.
While Melanie had no difficulty deciding on what to to have, settling on an order of the Dutch Style Apple Cinnamon-Sugar French Toast for herself, I had passed into the territory of lunch cravings. As I perused the menu while she tapped her foot, I came across the Waffle BLT, which was exactly the kind of brunch style fare I was seeking. Our well-mannered waitress informed me the item I ordered was new and she had never served it before, which brought me the stupid kind of excitement reserved for those of us who don’t have fascinating lives. The kitchen staff was on point, and the food arrived in an acceptable amount of time, although I did eventually succumb to pointing out silly slogans on some of the beer glasses during the wait.
The French Toast created a visual impact when it arrived as the plate nearly overflowed with toast. It would have been nice to see it accompanied with a small side of something else in lieu of more toast, if only to break up the monotony of eating the same thing throughout an entire meal. The BLT was also presented nicely, although the tiny portion of my brain devoted to OCD actions crumpled in on itself and died when I saw that the waffle was not cut down the line created by the press.
While Melanie certainly ate her French Toast, she remarked that it was at its core a fairly average offering. The French Toast itself was standard, and the apples, which were served heated on the side, were simply “okay”. I sampled some of her food and agreed with her sentiment that the apples could have used some additional sweetness. Still, we could understand the rational behind not wanting to potentially over sweeten them, but it boils down to personal preference.
The Waffle BLT was comprised of more unique items than the French Toast, namely the waffle itself, and the “spek”, which is Dutch style bacon. While it was a touch thinner than I prefer, the waffle was fluffy and I did enjoy the softness of it. The sweet flavours of the bread married well with the spek via the inclusion of sweet mayo in the sandwich. The Cheddar was nice, although it became a bit lost alongside the salty bacon styled meat, and the tomatoes and lettuce seemed to be used a bit sparingly. If I were to eat it again, I would likely request some hollandaise sauce inside in substitution for the mayo, if only to weird it up some more. The spek was tasty, but by being a large piece of bacon as it was, it was difficult to break though, resulting in pulling some of it out prematurely, leaving me with a lettuce and tomato sandwich for a few bites.
I was perplexed with what to do with the extra whipped butter. When applied to the waffle it made it overly rich, however it was theorized by the server that it would be useful if one were to put syrup on the sandwich and eat it with a knife and fork. Generally speaking, I’m adventurous, but I wasn’t in the mood to put syrup on something that had lettuce and tomatoes on it. To me this was a sandwich with fancy bread, not a waffle with extra fixings, but it’s up to the individual to interpret this strange journey.
The hash browns were an average affair, being of appropriate crispiness and portion. They were unremarkable in most respects, but provided a nice contrast to the sweet sandwich.
The Dutch Wooden Shoe Cafe does a good enough job at creating a meal that quiets a rumbling stomach, and a unique environment with welcoming staff help round out the experience. The dishes are satisfying, but don’t transition into being outstanding or something I’d necessarily be excited about having again.
The Dutch Wooden Shoe Cafe makes an effort to stand out, but only manages to provide food that is good for the stomach and forgettable for the mind.
Dutch Wooden Shoe Cafe, 3292 Cambie St, Vancouver
BLT Waffle and Dutch Style Apple Cinnamon-Sugar French Toast
Waffle = $7.95*
French Toast = $9.95*
*Melanie insists the prices ended in a “6”, so beware if it’s penny more than you expected.