LOWER EAST SIDE — Inspired by the success of the cronut, Al Tak decided to create his own culinary mashup.
Tak, 44, who just opened his first cafe on the Lower East Side, spent three months experimenting before finally making what he believes is the perfect dessert: a "creffle," a cross between a Belgian waffle, French crepe and Chinese eggette.
“It’s crispy on the outside [and] it’s light and fluffy on the inside,” said Tak, who named his newly opened Creffle Cafe, at 115 Stanton St., after the invention.
To make the confection, Tak pours batter into a special hexagonal iron, which creates the oval imprints that give creffles a texture similar to eggettes. On the inside, the creffles are soft like a crepe. Customers can eat them plain, or add toppings like fruit, nuts, chocolate and whipped cream, he said.
Tak, an Elmhurst resident, also makes savory creffles, including one with bacon and cheese mixed into the batter and another topped with pork belly or a coffee-marinated meatball.
“When you eat the meatball, you don’t even taste the coffee,” he said. The acidity in the coffee helps tenderize the meat, he explained, and gives the meatballs “a very light coffee fragrance.”
Plain creffles cost $4.95 and toppings are 50 cents each. The bacon and cheese creffle costs $6.95, and the meatball and pork belly versions are $11 and $10, respectively, Tak said. The creffles are served on a plate or wrapped up in paper for those on the go, he added.
But Tak didn’t stop there. Last week he developed what he has dubbed the “meatball puff."
“Basically the outside is like croissant. Inside, I’ll put a meatball in and I’ll bake it,” he said. The pastry is served with a homemade tomato sauce on the side.
Tak said his creations were a way to differentiate the cafe from other establishments in the neighborhood.
“Nowadays, because of the competition and everything, you have to be pretty inventive, to come up with something new,” he said.
Creffle Cafe sells more conventional fare as well. Coffee starts at $2.50 and is brewed using beans the cafe roasts in-house. The cafe also bakes its own cookies, scones and croissants.
Creffle Cafe is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week.