Sometimes you order a dish and it surprises you, it’s not what you thought it would be. You read the menu description and a picture of the dish forms in your mind, then it arrives at the table and it looks nothing like what you imagined. Worse, it doesn’t taste like you imagined, and you’re forced to slog through something you don’t care for. Disappointment ensues. This has happened to me more times than I can recall.

But sometimes—and it doesn’t happen often—sometimes, the dish is not what you envisioned in a good way. It’s better than you imagined, and on rare occasions, much better. These pleasant surprises are what food lovers live for. And I’ve found they are often the most memorable. It’s usually the surprises I remember more than the great dishes I’ve had, that I expected to be great.

Today, my wife and I ordered a dish to share, and it far exceeded my expectations.

It was the Cinnamon Sugar Dipped Pretzel at The Beer Belly.

It’s on the menu as above, and is further described: “House baked pretzel, chocolate fondue”.

What did you just envision in your mind? Likely, you envisioned a pretzel very similar to what they sell in the mall. A pretzel in the typical twisted shape, maybe a little larger than your hand, thickly covered in super sweet cinnamon sugar with a runny chocolate dipping sauce on the side, like in those fondue fountains you see at parties sometimes.

Nope. You’d be wrong.

The pretzel at The Beer Belly is actually 3 pretzels, each about the size and shape of a small cucumber, or maybe a really big cigar. They’re very dark brown, almost blackened from caramelized cinnamon and sugar. The chocolate fondue is more like a light chocolate mousse.

The genius is they lightly coat the pretzels in cinnamon sugar before they bake them. The result is a pretzel with a barely noticeable sweetness, and a hint of cinnamon; with more depth and complexity than a typical pretzel has.

The pretzels are also not as dense as you’d expect, which I liked, and served right out of the oven, piping hot. Ours were so hot we had to give them a minute to cool down.

The chocolate fondue is sweet, but not too sweet, and full of rich chocolate flavor.

What I loved most is the lack of cloying sweetness. They use a light hand with the sugar, and it’s just enough to satiate your desire for something sweet after a savory lunch or dinner. It’s a fantastic way to end a meal.


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