As I lay in bed on our overnight trip to Charlottesville, scrolling through Yelp to find something close and delicious to eat for brunch, I landed on IRON's website. Sandwiches made on waffles. That's unique. I rolled over and mumbled, "Maybe this place," and handed my phone off.
There was beer on the menu, sweet and savory options, so to IRON's we went to try out some paffles.
The day was gorgeous and heating up quickly, so I was happy that we found a spot close by in the parking lot (which I overheard is free during the Farmer's Market).
When you walk into IRON, you're immediately greeted by color. To the left is a giant mural on the wall with their menu. Just beyond that is coffee on tap. There is a long community table in the middle of the restaurant. And at the back is the register where you can order.
I quickly settled on getting a chicken and paffle. But my decision making was far from being over. I was suffering from overchoice. First you pick one special topping, ranging from mac n' cheese, grits, gravy, cheese, avocado or bacon.
That first choice was easy. I wanted mac n' cheese, obviously. Then you pick two garnishes, so I rolled the dice and picked tomato and arugula. Then the most difficult decision: what sauce? She suggested BBQ, but I definitely knew I didn't want that. To compliment the mac n' cheese, I went with the sriracha. You know me and spice. I rounded out my order with a large cup of coffee.
After making ordering into an arduous and painful process, I stepped aside. We quickly finished our order with the choriz savory paffle, which featured chorizo, sweet potato and slaw. And then threw in the pie paffle for good measure, which had rhubarb compote and vanilla gelato (I was promised ice cream).
After sitting down and settling in, we realized I needed to go back and get my coffee. On the way back, we picked up Bears vs Babies to entertain ourselves.
**As a sidebar: Bears vs Babies a really weird but fun game where you build mutant monsters to defeat the army of babies. I did surprisingly well until the last round and lost by two babies.**
Soon our paffles came out and I could barely contain my excitement. They come perfectly wrapped and set in a holding case to make eating them easier.
IRON's Chicken and Paffle
My first few bites of the chicken and paffle sandwich was pure paffle. I read the entire website before getting there, and yet it still caught me off guard that it was a pastry shaped like a waffle and not a waffle tasting waffle. The flakiness reminds me of toaster strudel's from my childhood. Once I got a complete bite of sandwich, I immediately understood why it's not a waffle. It HAS to be paffles.
The sandwich would be way too heavy if it was a waffle sandwich.
The mac n' cheese was a good call. I really liked the noodles with the pastry. Once I was halfway through that sandwich, we switched and I tried the chorizo.
The Choriz Paffle
The chicken and paffle was great, but the chorizo was a showstopper. The flavor was just so unique and delicious. It was a bit spicy, which played off the pastry well. And the sweet potato! Chefs are really onto something these days with putting sweet potato in brunch dishes. Salt & Forge threw some sweet potato puree on their biscuit recently and it was equally remarkable.
The Pie Paffle
I distinctly remember the first time I had dessert at brunch: the Tupelo Honey opening up in Arlington, and since then I try to sneak brunch dessert in when possible (like ordering the red velvet waffles to split for dessert at LuLu's). So having a plethora of options for sweet paffles basically validates the fact that brunch deserves a dessert menu.
Truthfully, I wanted the cannoli paffle, but was shot down immediately. And then I suggested the Iron Maiden (hazelnut chocolate and banana), but then shot myself down because that didn't seem unique enough.
I'm so glad we landed on the pie. The rhubarb was straight-up pie filling, with a healthy dosing of cinnamon, which was perfectly paired with creamy, vanilla gelato.
The entire dining experience can be summed up with the first question we pondered once we were done eating, "Think they'll come to Richmond?"
AND THEN THEY COMMENTED ON OUR INSTAGRAM POST: "Thanks for visiting 🤗 we can’t wait to bring paffles to Richmond ❤️."
What does this mean!? Will paffles be making its way to Richmond? That would be pawful nice!