By KATHLEEN STEWARD
The origins of Cousteau’s Waffle and Milkshake Bar is an intriguing blend of people, places and things. Take famous oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, a movie named “Life Aquatic,” starring Bill Murray, and a trip to Brussels, put them in a blender and you have Cousteau’s Waffle and Milkshake Bar.
Owner Stephen DiMares was inspired by Belgian waffles during a visit and has a family history with Cousteau’s famous boat the Calypso. In 1984, both his grandfather and father worked overhauling Calypso here in St. Augustine.
The menu items are all named from characters and places from the movie, “The Life Aquatic.”
Names like: Ping Island, the Unpaid Intern, Life on Mars and Matching Pajamas are a few examples that mirror the tone of the movie and make for a fun menu.
General Manager Andrew Riley gets the irony. He was hired as general manager when Cousteau’s opened about a year ago.
The 12-seat restaurant is smallish but packs a punch with its myriad selection of waffles and milkshakes. Pictures of Cousteau in his signature red beanie dot the walls.
Cousteau’s is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.
How would you describe the restaurant’s atmosphere?
We are fun and whimsical. For instance, if you wear a red beanie like Cousteau, you will get a 10 percent discount. Our social media invites fun, too. Every Sunday you can check out Instagram for a treasure hunt. A rewards card is hidden somewhere in St. Augustine, and we give you clues to find it.
What is your food philosophy?
We make everything in the kitchen. Waffles, roasted coconut flakes, fresh orange glaze and candied bacon are just a few homemade ingredients. There are no short cuts, and we offer premium, gourmet waffles and milkshakes. The milkshakes are hand spun using frozen ice cream.
What types of cuisine do you specialize in?
The Liege waffle originated in Belgium and varies from the Brussels’ waffle. Little sugar pellets, known as pearl sugar, are mixed with dough, which caramelizes when the waffle is cooked. They are thicker, richer and chewier than the Brussels’ waffle. Our rich, thick milkshakes are hand spun and come with a whole range of our homemade goodies and are topped with fresh whipped cream.
What is your signature dish?
Because you get more bang for your buck, I’d say the whirlybird and the belafonte. A whirlybird is topped with fresh cinnamon, apples, vanilla ice cream, caramel drizzle and bourbon whipped cream. For something a little lighter the belafonte waffle is topped with fresh strawberries and nutella.
What would you recommend for a first timer?
If it was me behind the counter, I’d say the jaguar shark waffle with real maple syrup, bourbon whipped cream, candied pecans and candied bacon. For a milkshake I’d recommend the be still cody with chocolate ice cream, a shot of espresso, mocha sauce and espresso whipped cream.