Yes, Taste of Belgium makes possibly the best waffles the world has ever known, and if you've walked down Cincinnati's Vine Street on a blustery day or into Findlay Market at any hour, you've probably bought a few you didn't realize you were craving. But a couple of years ago Kenji did a sweet piece on them, so we've let ourselves move on past the griddles to the open kitchen and teeming displays cases at the bistro.
This Double Belgian Chocolate Raspberry Torte ($7/slice) is a marvel of old-school technique and flavors. Layers of dark chocolate cake are set against pillowy mousse and enrobed in dark chocolate ganache, set with a single raspberry and plated on top of a sweet-tart puree. Even for Taste of Belgium, whose offerings tend towards the indulgent, full-throttle kind, it's a hefty slice appropriate for sharing after a slightly more modest meal of crepes, Waffle and Chicken, or mussels.
Yet while incredibly rich and sweet, it's not cloying or overwhelmingly saccharine. Unlike many tortes, which employ copious amounts of cocoa powder and therefore either come off as somewhat chalky or rather sweet and dense, deep dark chocolate notes permeate the cake layers, with a slightly bitter tang. The cake is moist—somewhere between the textures of a chocolate cake and a flourless torte—but substantial, so that it doesn't yield too quickly to the fluffy layers of mousse and frosting.
Raspberry flavor plays second fiddle if you get the piece to go, but with the swipe of a fork provides a tart contrast to the depth of all that chocolate which, if you get cake, mousse and ganache in one bite, is not for the faint of heart. The super-smooth ganache is, again, very sweet and rich, but sugar itself is not the frontrunner, so nothing about the torte in its entirety comes off as anything but quality.
We've yet to eat our way through the lighter, more fruit-base sweets at the bistro, where all pastries are made fresh in an open kitchen surrounding a communal table that guests can opt for. But as the company and their offerings continue to expand, we'll be back.
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