On Sunday, before our Father’s Day feast and before our friends Emily and John departed back to Gainesville, we went out to our friend Keta and Steve Halasiz’s cafe and coffee shop, Benelux. You can actually find me baking for Benelux once or twice a week. When I’m not taming my little wild beast who has become increasingly difficult to keep up with!
Benelux has evolved quite a bit since its inception about five years ago. It has been so neat to witness. Benelux’s original location was in the historic City Market area of downtown Raleigh, a space they quickly outgrew and needed an upgrade from. Now two locations later, (and two children!) with Raleigh roasted coffee and baked goods sold all over the area-Benelux has evolved into a thriving full fledged coffee operation. It’s making a serious mark in the Triangle food service market. Steve, who has a culinary background and a love for travel, wanted Americans to experience a coffee shop unique from the typical Italian style cafés. Benelux sheds light on what other European cultures have to offer coffee enthusiasts. The name “Benelux” refers to the union of three European countries; the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg which is where the cafe name originated from. With a touch of French (think local croissants and house-made quiche), this Raleigh gem offers patrons quite the little European experience.
The atmosphere in their new Cameron Village location, is airy and contemporary yet comfortable. Customers have a variety of seating to choose from including cushioned lounge type chairs near the entrance, outside seating and bar seating. It’s evident by the decor that the owner and Benelux customers are into sports, specifically soccer and cycling. Bikes are mounted on the walls and there is often a soccer game streaming on the flat screen. There is even a fast-growing Benelux cycling crew that gather and take weekly cruises.
Outside of Benelux, Cameron Village.
Coffee Bean Mural that lines the inside.
Dutch Boterkoek, a delicious almond butter cake.
Their cuisine includes various Belgian Waffles, fresh baked seasonal bread loaves (zucchini walnut is currently on rotation), quiche, Boterkoek, croissants and a best-seller, Banana Nutella chocolate chip muffins (pictured above right). Coffees drinks are often topped with wafers and you can add the addictive European spreads Biscoff or Nutella to just about anything. My personal favorite is the Eddy Waffle which comes with a heaping scoop of vanilla ice cream and a generous amount of Biscoff.
Speaking of the baked items, the majority of the baking is done in-house (some by yours truly) and on a daily basis. What isn’t baked in house is sourced locally from a city favorite, Neomande.
The Benelux crew takes great pride in their coffee. They roast their coffee beans of different varieties themselves and in small batches. One can find their coffee sold in more than 10 area businesses including Cameron Bar and Grill, The Rockford and Marbles Kids Museum. Several times I’ve brought my mom a batch of their holiday blend home for Christmas. It’s the perfect blend of smooth, creamy and slightly bitter. They also recently started to bottle their own cold brew blend, perfect for these record breaking temperatures the South has experienced recently and for the many Raleigh cycling enthusiasts.
For the more health conscious; Benelux offers smoothies, sandwiches, bran muffins (above right), parfaits and various teas. Even more healthy options including a superb house salad are sold at their smaller YMCA location on Hillsborough St. Different from the common house salads, which all too often include tasteless iceberg lettuce and out of season tomatoes, the Benelux house salad is a real treat. It comes with grilled chicken, blue cheese, mixed greens, sunflower seeds and other fresh fixings to devour. The YMCA location is open to the public.
House salad, sold exclusively at the YMCA location.
My best girl, making people smile as usual. Benelux was so great to let us come back yesterday and take more photos. We stayed longer than I expected but she didn’t seem to mind too much!
Biscoff Waffle. If you’re in the mood to have dessert for breakfast like I was.
The seasonal waffle option-peaches and cream.
So although, I’m biased since we have become friends with Keta and Steve of Benelux (and they technically employ me), the food and coffee speak for itself. It’s evident how hard this family works and how much attention is paid to detail in procuring delicious coffee and European treats. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter to be enticed yourself and add this spot to your rotation of places to frequent. For my family and friends reading this back home, below are a few photos from our Sunday taken outside of Benelux. Grace enjoyed munching on watermelon and “talking” to another baby who was actually trying to nap but she was making that a bit difficult. We left full and happy.