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Iron Paffles brings an interesting twist to the classic sandwich

Oct 13, 2023

Located between The Space Downtown and Hot Yoga Charlottesville at 214 W Water Street, Iron Paffles is owned by English immigrant and entrepreneur Kathryn Matthews. The restaurant is hard to miss, with gear decals on the restaurant's exterior windows and a chalkboard outside the door advertising sandwich specials.

When I walked in, I was met with a dynamic mural and local art available for purchase displayed on the wall. Their ‘90s R&B playlist adds to the atmosphere and can be found on their @ironcville Spotify account so you can bring their good vibes with you out the door.

The idea for the restaurant came after Matthews found herself one day with a shortage of sandwich bread in college. She opted to use leftover puff pastry dough instead — and thus her vision for Iron Paffles was born.

With Matthews’ hospitality degree and experience working in the restaurant and bar industry, her vision for a paffle restaurant has come to life and contributed to the eclectic collection of restaurants that makes Downtown Charlottesville so special. Iron Paffles and Coffee opened in 2017 and has thrived ever since.

The paffle is a puff-pastry waffle — wonderfully flaky and the perfect canvas for both sweet and savory fillings. Matthews learned to make puff pastry from scratch with her Grandmother's recipe. When baked on a waffle iron, the delicate dough puffs into a perfectly sized waffle with many flavor-filled, flaky pockets. The paffle is a delightfully crispy — albeit, a bit messy — sandwich vessel that makes for an interesting and exciting eating experience.

Iron Paffles has a broad menu ranging from sweet paffles stuffed with nutella and banana filling to savory fried chicken and mac ‘n’ cheese paffles that are easily customizable at a price point of about $9 each. Iron Paffles also caters to most dietary preferences offering gluten free, vegan and build-your-own options.

The delicious combinations keep you coming back for more with the restaurant's ever-improving menu featuring seasonal paffles — such as the Thanksgiving-inspired "Southern Thanksgiving Sammy" filled with cornbread stuffing over fried chicken and maple syrup — as well as weekly specials and unlimited sandwich combinations. Through sourcing ingredients locally, Iron Paffles contributes to the Charlottesville food community and helps support other small businesses.

Iron Paffles has an excellent online presence — with an easily-navigated website and engaging Facebook and Instagram pages where it is transparent about business values and details how it seeks to change the restaurant industry to create a sustainable and inclusive work environment. The restaurant's online ordering system is streamlined and straightforward, making it easy to order paffles from your phone and on the go.

I opted to order my first paffle online for in-store pickup. I was greeted with a smile walking in and my order was already waiting for me on the pick-up counter. My first order was the Nutella with Sliced Banana paffle, which I customized by adding peanut butter. Served warm with a light dusting of powdered sugar, it was divine.

The paffle certainly delivers on texture and allows the filling flavors to shine through. Breakfast sandwiches made with croissants are the closest concept to a paffle I’ve experienced before, but the flimsy croissant simply can't compare to a buttery and flaky puff pastry waffle.

While the sweet paffle filling options are certainly delicious — the caramel cannoli being my personal favorite — savory paffle sandwiches are the way to go. The Egg, Cheddar, Bacon and Sriracha Mayonnaise paffle is a great, hearty brunch option. The texture of the soft and juicy baked egg contrasts beautifully with the crispy paffle which makes for an interesting and unique eating experience.

In addition to the delicious food, I also appreciated the straightforward and streamlined ordering process. Customers use a self-serve tablet and the paffles are then served warm in an adorable and functional paper package that makes them easy to hold and devour. This well-thought-out packaging makes eating them on-the-go a breeze.

A recyclable cardboard box encases the paffle and helps control the inevitable puff pastry crumble. Befitting of the industrial theme of the restaurant, a gear wheel design is on the half-circle folds of the container each paffle comes in — which generates continuity and adds to the unique ambiance of the restaurant.

For additional accommodations, Iron Paffles also offers online orders for pickup and delivery as well as catering with classic savory, breakfast, lunch and dessert platters to choose from and a variety of customization options. However, the paffle is not the eatery's only claim to fame — the restaurant also serves coffee, tea, kombucha, craft beer and other beverages. Iron Paffles offers seasonal and weekly limited specials like its pumpkin spice latte and pickle spice drinks. With T-shirts and stickers — and even their own coffee blend — this wonderful restaurant has a lot to offer.

Iron Paffles is open Wednesday through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and accepts their last orders at 2:45 p.m. While a bit of a trek from Grounds, Iron Paffles is well worth the trip and I highly recommend checking it out — the paffle may very well become your new favorite brunch go-to.

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