Photos and Words by Clinton Nguyen
Chances are, if you've ever been around Government Center for food, you're doing one of three things: pub crawling, getting caught in the Quincy Market tourist traps, or getting cannoli. Rarely will you ever get a combination of good, cheap, and to-go meal; but Saus will provide you one of these rare occasions. Saus is a little banana yellow bistro that sticks out in between the historical Irish-American pubs that buttressing the skirts of Quincy Market and City Hall. It was established by three unemployed BU and Northeastern graduates in 2008. Take three foodies' jobs, some entrepreneurship, add a little poutine, and you have yourself a veritable Euro street café that certainly delivers refreshing Belgian variety to an otherwise staid and predominantly Irish/Italian area.
Saus gets its praise from various street dishes, including frikandel (Dutch hot dogs) and poutine (Canadian fries, gravy and cheese that tastes better than it sounds), but I'll highlight the popular choices. First off, the frites. A little bit of trivia for the unversed: French fries, or frites, as it is known in Francophone countries, are actually of Belgian origin! Belgians speak French, or German, or Flemish, depending on the region. Anyhow, at this one-stop Belgian shoppe, your first pick should be this--if not the equally delicious Liège waffles. Saus' frites are fried to a neat golden crisp, and leave no dry starchy aftertaste; They're topped with salt flakes and arranged in a neat cone holder.
At $5.50 for a regular sized cone, you'll get a dipping sauce for free (regularly $0.75)! You'll be able to choose from over ten different sauces, many of which seem palpably delicious from their descriptions. I recommend the Samurai Saus, which is comparable to the spicy mayonnaise often found in sushi; and the Vampire Slayer, true to its name, has a gratuitous amount of garlic mixed in with homemade mayo. Among other sauces, I also recommend the Green Monster and the Olé Chipotle. The first two sauces I recommended are mayo based, while the last two are for those looking for bold and pungent dips. The frites, though sadly not broadly cut in proper Belgian fashion, are filling and also very much worth it.
Then there are the Liège waffles! If you've unfortunately never had Belgian waffles, you should know that these are not your IHOP waffles. They're squared waffles cooked until they're crispy golden brown and caramelized with nib sugar, rounded off with a topping of your choice. Biting into a waffle, you'll find it firm but not unyielding, sweet but not overwhelmingly so.
A suggestion for those curious about the waffles: have a waffle on its own the first time around, just to get the feel for its syrup-less sweetness. The sugar is melted on the waffle, and leaves little room for sticky residue. Next time around, be adventurous. Pick one of the toppings like homemade Nutella (not as thick and definitely darker than store-bought Nutella), Berry Berry, Salted Caramel, and Lemon Cream. For those searching for fresh fruit toppings, I direct you to the slightly more expensive Zinneken's in Cambridge. Fresh fruit is something that Saus sadly has not offered in its past years of service.
I can safely say that Saus is one of my favorite counter service cafés for providing affordable and popular foreign street dishes that certainly can't be found elsewhere in Boston--or at least not for a similar price. For those looking to tackle Belgian-inspired cusine close to home, Saus will most definitely not disappoint. And neither will the poutine. Never regret the poutine.
Hours: open all week. Monday-Wednesday noon-10 p.m.; Thursday noon-midnight; Friday-Saturday noon-2 a.m.; Sunday noon-8 p.m. Catering and delivery within a 1-mile radius. American and Belgian microbrews available for 21+ 33 Union St., Boston 617 248 8835