Belgian cafe opening on Broadway

A new Belgian-themed eatery on Elm Street between Park and York is set to unveil its full menu within the next few weeks.
A new Belgian-themed eatery on Elm Street between Park and York is set to unveil its full menu within the next few weeks. Photo by William Freedberg.

The Broadway district acquired another cafe this week, with the partial opening of Maison Mathis.

On Monday, the Belgian-themed restaurant, located on Elm Street between Park and York, had a soft opening, serving a limited menu and remaining open for fewer hours than will soon become usual. The partial opening is preparation for the full opening, said general manager Kelly Festo, which will likely take place in the next couple of weeks. The restaurant is vying to be a replacement for Au Bon Pain, the cafe that used to occupy the spot at 1 Broadway, but it remains unclear whether students will adopt Maison Mathis as a substitute for the previous Broadway district cafe.

“The concept is inspired by the heart of Europe — Belgium,” Festo said. “Many of our ingredients are imported, such as the flour for our bread.”

The restaurant has been open this week from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. From Friday to Sunday, Maison Mathis will be open from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m., and on Monday the cafe will be open for its regular hours, which are 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. Though the restaurant will operate on its full-time schedule on Monday, it will not serve a complete menu, said the restaurant co-owner, Omer Ipek.

Inspired by the cafes of the Old World, Maison Mathis serves breakfast, lunch, brunch and dinner. Breads and pastries are baked in-house daily, and five Belgian beers, like Stella Artois and Chimay, sit on tap. Adjacent to the cash register is a made-to-order waffle bar with a specialist always on hand to receive waffle requests.

“The waffle is the first thing you should definitely get,” Festo said. “People are going crazy for it.”

The waffles are topped with in-store crafted whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate sauce, while the brioche sandwich, another of Festo’s favorites, is a chilled cheese and onion sandwich with a raisin brioche envelope.

With the departure of Au Bon Pain, students have lamented the absence of a relaxed study space with sandwiches and coffee.

“There is definitely demand for a place to do work in the Broadway area,” Joey Yagoda ’14 said.

But Yale students have not yet decided if they will embrace the new cafe. Kadeem Yearwood ’15 said that while Maison Mathis felt “accommodating,” the food was a bit “pricey” and he is unsure if he will eat there regularly.

On display in the glass case are selections of sandwiches and salads that run for $8 each. The drip coffee offered is organic Counter Culture coffee that sells for $2.75 per small cup. The waffles range from $6 to $8, and the beer ranges from $5 to $11.50.

Sam Dealy ’15 agreed that the price may drive students away, and suggested that visitors to campus, as opposed to students, may become the cafe’s main patrons.

“On account of the cost here, I don’t think it’ll work its way into the student culture,” Dealy said.

But Dealy added that he liked the restaurant and said that it made the space around New Haven more “cosmopolitan.”

Inside, the aesthetics are a fusion of cafe and bar, with traditional seats, tables and bench accommodation resting alongside elevated tables and bar stools. The interior makes use of natural lighting, accentuated by a heavy use of white shading throughout.

And Belgian culture permeates the entire experience. Since her arrival to the Maison Mathis team, Festo has discovered Belgian culture through food and learned a great deal about the nation and its people through her weekly Skype sessions with the Belgian designers.

“It’s like Rudy’s for the day,” Jimmy Murphy ’13 SPH ’14 said.

Maison Mathis co-owner Ipek also owns Rudy’s.

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