Maison Mathis, the hotly anticipated Belgian café and bakery on Broadway, is a luminous space. The glorious autumn afternoon sun floods the restaurant through floor-to-ceiling windows, shining even brighter against exposed pipes painted white and dainty wooden furniture arranged thoughtfully throughout the café. The sweet smell of freshly baked bread, a hand-written menu, the muted tunes of indie pop, and the attractive staff in pristine white t-shirts all make for a beautiful, clean, and awfully elegant aesthetic.
Unfortunately, the café’s food fails to live up to its supposedly Belgian origin, which is meant to blend French quality with German quantity. The cuisine of Maison Mathis has neither; the food is disappointing overall, and the portions are small for the price you’re asked to pay. Their signature item, the Belgian waffle ($6-$8), begs for fine-tuning; the surface was pleasantly crusty, but the insides remained undercooked and gloopy. The farm chicken salad with pesto ($8) was cold, dry, and generally unpleasant. Only the gruyere croque ($8) was moderately tasty, but it was also little more than an open-faced grilled cheese.
The space is gorgeous, though, and a visit for a casual study break or date with a drip coffee ($2.25) and a small cream cheese brioche ($2.50) could certainly be enjoyable. Just remember in that case, you’re paying more for the floating sunflower petals at your table than you are for your food.