If someone asked me if I had heard of Bruxie before last November, the conversation might have gone as follows:
Me: “Isn’t that a town in Northern California?”
That someone: “No. That’s Truckee.”
Me: “Oh. Then, no.”
Thankfully, I know better. During a weekend stay in Rowland Heights last year, my cousin and his family took my husband and I to the Bruxie in nearby Brea Downtown. Bruxie, it seems, refers to two things: the fast casual restaurant chain that serves gourmet waffle sandwiches, and the light, crisp, and non-sweet Belgian waffles the restaurant uses instead of bread to make sandwiches.
It’s an interesting concept, especially when the menu isn’t strictly about breakfast-like sandwiches. In fact, Bruxie lists more savory options than sweet ones, only one of which is a take on the popular combination of fried chicken and waffles. Curious to find out whether the savory items weren’t of the I-dare-you-to-try-it nature, I ordered the roasted mushroom and goat cheese Bruxie.
And wouldn’t you know it: the flavors and textures went so well together, I immediately wished I lived closer to a Bruxie so that I could order it again whenever I wanted. Since I don’t (at least, not yet: word is that Bruxie will open a San Diego location this year), I thought I’d figure out how to make one at home.
So I gathered together a pack of Trader Joe’s wheat free toaster waffles, white mushrooms, goat cheese, arugula, fresh basil, balsamic vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil. After a couple of tries, I landed on a close-enough facsimile.
To start, leave the goat cheese out so that it comes to room temperature, and chiffonade the basil to yield a ⅓ cup of sliced leaves.
Then, reduce a ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar by half in a small saucepan, uncovered, over low heat. It should only take about 5 minutes. Once reduced, remove the vinegar from the heat until the mushrooms are ready.
As the vinegar reduces, prepare an 8-ounce package of white mushrooms by removing and discarding their stems, halving the caps of the small mushrooms, and quartering the medium- and large-sized caps. Sauté them in a separate pan in a ½ tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and pinches of salt and pepper over medium heat, cooking them just until they begin to sweat.
If you’re timing is perfect (unlike me), then add the balsamic reduction to the mushrooms. If you had to remove the balsamic reduction from the heat until the mushrooms were ready (like me), then heat the balsamic reduction over low heat just until it has become liquified again and then pour it over the mushrooms.
Toss the combo to coat all of the mushrooms in the reduction. After about a minute, remove the pan from the heat but let the coated mushrooms sizzle it out in the still-hot pan. This way, the reduction binds to the mushrooms, but the mushrooms don’t shrink into over-browned nubs of their former selves. You want the mushrooms to be tender yet still beefy.
While the coated mushrooms cook in the residual heat of the pan, toast the waffles so that they aren’t soft in the middle. In fact, it’s okay if they’re a little past golden brown so long as they’re crisp all the way through.
As the waffles cool, toss a heaping handful of arugula and the chopped basil with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil (no more than a ½ teaspoon) and season the mixture with pinches of salt and pepper.
Now, you’re ready to assemble the sandwiches.
Smear one of two waffles with the room-temperature goat cheese (A), add half of the balsamic mushrooms on top of the goat cheesed waffle (B), add half of the arugula and basil mixture on top of the balsamic mushrooms (C), and top the pile-up with the other waffle. Repeat the assembly with the remaining ingredients, then cut each sandwich in half and serve immediately.
The crunch and airiness of the toasted, plain, wheat free waffles works well against the soft mushrooms. The pepper of the arugula plays off the sweetness of the basil, both of which complement the tangy caramelization of the balsamic vinegar, a tang that’s itself soothed by the creaminess of the goat cheese trapped in the waffle wells. It’s a delicious meeting of ingredients, made more awesome by the unexpected camaraderie they find in-between slices of what’s commonly regarded as a breakfast food.
The San Diego branch of Bruxie will eventually open at The Headquarters in Seaport District. I’ve even seen Bruxie banners plastered over the windows of the yet-to-be-finished space. But thanks to a little experimentation, I don’t have to wait until the owners open their doors to relive the flavors of my first Bruxie sandwich, and that’s a good thing. Now that I can make a good version of the roasted mushroom and goat cheese Bruxie at home, I’m free to try everything else on their menu.
Balsamic Mushroom Waffle Sandwich
Inspired by Bruxie’s Roasted Mushroom and Goat Cheese sandwich
Makes 2 sandwiches // 5 minutes to prep, 15 minutes to cook
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
8-ounce package of white mushrooms, cleaned and de-stemmed
½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus a little more for tossing arugula
4 frozen slices of plain toaster waffles
⅓ cup chopped fresh basil
Handful of arugula
Room temperature goat cheese
Salt and pepper
- Reduce the balsamic vinegar by half in a small saucepan set over low heat (takes about 5 minutes). Once reduced by half, remove the balsamic reduction from the heat.
- Prepare the mushroom caps by halving the small caps and quartering the medium- and large-sized caps. Then, in a separate pan, sauté the chopped caps in the ½ tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, seasoning them with pinches of salt and pepper. Meanwhile, if the balsamic vinegar has cooled to syrup consistency, reheat it over low heat until its back to liquid form. When the mushrooms begin to sweat, add the balsamic reduction and toss the mushrooms to coat. After about a minute, remove the pan from the heat but leave the mushrooms in the pan to cook in the residual heat.
- Toast the waffles until they’re crisp all the way through.
- Toss the arugula and chopped basil in a little bit of extra virgin olive oil (no more than ½ teaspoon) and pinches of salt and pepper.
- Assemble the sandwiches: Starting with two waffles, smear room temperature goat cheese all the way to the edges of one waffle. Then, stack half of the balsamic mushrooms on the goat cheese slice, and then half of the arugula and basil mixture on the mushrooms. Top the stack off with a second waffle slice. Repeat with the remaining ingredients, then slice each sandwich and serve immediately.