Kathryn Matthews has been obsessed with American breakfast since she was a child, growing up in Grimsby, a small fishing town on the northeast coast of England. Her grandparents would sometimes take her on vacation to Florida, where they’d eat waffles and fluffy American pancakes, which are quite different from the unleavened, more crêpe-like English pancakes. Sometimes, they’d pour batter onto a griddle or into a waffle iron and make the treats themselves.
Matthews has brought her love of sweet American breakfast to 214 W. Water St. with the opening of Iron Paffles and Coffee. She started working as a chef at 16 before studying hospitality and beverage management at university, and has been making paffles—puff pastry baked on a waffle iron—on her own for a while now, though she can’t exactly take credit for inventing the paffle (a quick Google search a few years back showed her as much).
Savory breakfast nuts might want to try the Iron Glory, a paffle topped with local bacon, sausage and cheese omelet topped with sriracha mayonnaise, and those with a sweet tooth might go for the Rise ’N’ Iron, a blueberry paffle covered with cream and local hickory syrup.
For lunch (or perhaps dinner) Matthews and executive chef Dan Giovanetti will cook up paffles such as the Iron Master (southern-fried local organic chicken breast, mac ’n’ cheese and local spring mix) and the Iron Bean (black bean, sweet potato and quinoa patty and finished with smoked salsa). Craving something sweet? Try the Hail Iron—orange cheesecake paffle topped with local strawberry sauce and flaked almonds—or the Peanut BAE, a gluten-free paffle with vegan chocolate ganache and peanut butter whip. The paffles can be made with a special vegan and gluten-free batter for an extra $1.50. Even with the extra charge, nothing costs more than $9, and can be devoured on-site or made to go in a special cardboard paffle carrier that allows for maximum nommage and minimal mess.
Iron will be open Monday through Thursday from 8am to 4pm, Friday from 8am to 8pm and Saturday from 10am to 8pm; breakfast will be served until 11 each day, but the Cini-Bacon paffle, made with maple cinnamon cream, candied pecans and bacon, will be on the menu all day.
Tom Tom nom-noms
It’s Tom Tom time, and you know what that means, food fans: nearly a whole week of food trucks, beer tents, cocktail competitions and celebrations of Charlottesville’s farm-to-table culture.
Throughout the week, restaurants such as The Bebedero, Citizen Burger Bar, Heirloom, Rapture, Oakhart Social, Tavern & Grocery and others will appeal to locavore palates with pre-fixe menus that emphasize local ingredients and artisan food producers.
A dozen mixologists will vie for Tom Tom’s top mixologist title with custom festival cocktails made from locally sourced ingredients and served all week at participating restaurants. A panel of judges will consider the creativity, presentation, originality and taste of the submitted cocktails and name their favorite. But don’t worry, the voice of the people will be considered as well—a popular vote will be held to determine the crowd’s favorite boozy beverage (vote online at tomtomfest.com/craftcocktail). Here’s just a taste of what’s to come: Alley Light’s Micah LeMon will make a Sunday Sermon, made with John J. Bowman Virginia Bourbon, housemade vermouth (local sassafras, wormwood and King Family Chardonnay), Amer Picon and Kubler Absinthe.
At the City Market Iron Chef Competition at 10am on Saturday, chefs will have 30 minutes to tour the market, purchase ingredients and cook a 100 percent locally sourced brunch dish in the hopes of wowing the three judges.
Find out who’ll be named Charlottesville’s top red hot chili prepper during the Downtown Chili Showdown at the Main Street Arena on Saturday from 11:30am to 3pm. Restaurants, community groups and individuals will compete for people’s choice and judges awards.
And last but not least, local food trucks will rally around Lee Park for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday block parties. Get your fill of good eats from Bavarian Chef, Got Dumplings, Blue Ridge Pizza Co., Mouth Wide Open, Wonderment, Carpe Donut, DanJo’s KettleKorn and others.