Annual Belgian Restaurant Week in the Nation’s Capital
Belgian Born Chefs ‘Mussel it Up’ for their Independence during A National Day Celebration
D.C.’s top Belgian toques and restaurants come together to celebrate their heritage and history this July with the third annual Belgian Restaurant Week, a week’s worth of activities to honor Belgium’s National Day, July 21st. The kick off preview begins on Thursday, July 12th, at the annual Brew at the Zoo event where Belgian restaurants are hosting the VIP tent. From Saturday, July 14th, to Saturday, July 21st, restaurants Belga Café, Brabo, Brasserie Beck, Et Voila!, Granville Moore’s, Locolat, Le Pain Quotidien, Marcel’s, Marvin and Mussel Bar will host a series of festivities showcasing the traditions and customs of Belgium as well as marking the 182nd anniversary of Belgium’s independence. With great pride for Belgium’s heritage, the restaurants highlight aspects of Belgian culture that have gained international appreciation: its culture and cuisine.
"The Belgian Restaurant Week in Washington, D.C., is a showcase of the best Belgium has to offer in the culinary field,” states Belgian Ambassador Jan Matthysen. “Together for the third year, we get to show off the bounty of our country through restaurant celebrations and the second annual Mussel Throw Down," says Belgian Restaurant Week DC Founder Chef Bart Vandaele of Belga Café. "It is a privilege and honor to work with the Ambassador and Belgium Chamber of Commerce on this extraordinary celebration that will not only drive interest of Belgium itself, but also increase tourism."
The week showcases customary Belgian dishes such as mussels and frites, chocolate and waffles, and Belgian beers from four regions. An array of festivities at the participating restaurants include:
- Thursday, July 12th – A Taste of Things to Come- Brew at the Zoo VIP event
Party like an animal at the annual kick-off to Belgian Restaurant Week with a selection of specialty Belgian beers to enjoy in the VIP tent.
- Saturday, July 14th– Frog Legs & Beer Leaps us into the Celebration- Anti-Bastille Day
The Belgians forgot their French heritage long ago, so why not the rest of us—enjoy spoof-on specials —Frog Legs & Beer and keep the celebration Belgian!
- Sunday, July 15th – Waffle & Genever Brunch
Feast on Larger-than-Life Waffles at a traditional Flemish brunch and toast in style with Belgian’s 500 year old national spirit. Who needs whiskey?
- Monday, July 16th – “Chefs Go Fresh” Ride & the Launch of “Tour of Belgium” Global Beer Dinners
Hop on or over as chefs from across the city rev up their bikes and head to local farms and purveyors all day. [Sponsored by the Georgetowner newspaper] The night ends with ‘Belgian Beer to the finish!’ as the “Tour of Belgium” Global Beer Dinners fuel up for the week ahead. Flemish beers from the different regions— Antwerp, Brugge, Gent and Kortrijk will be presented on varied nights at the participating restaurants.
- Tuesday, July 17th– Mussels from Brussels
All day long stop into any Belgian Restaurant Week participating eatery and enjoy Half-Priced Mussels & Beer specials of Belgium’s favorite casual fare pair.
- Wednesday, July 18th– Chimay 150th Anniversary “Drink your Beer; Steal your Glass!”
In honor of the Trappist beer’s 150th anniversary, help us raise a collector glass to Chimay, then take it home with you—consider it your party favor.
- Thursday, July 19th– Belgian Artist Exhibit
After tasting the artistry in some of our famous D.C Flemish kitchens all week long, feed your mind and soul at the Belgian Artist Exhibit at the Morton Fine Art Building in downtown Washington, DC.
- Friday, July 20th – The White Party
A typical initiation to the summer, dress in your post-Memorial Day best – in all White— and fill your glass with the finest White Beers the country has to offer.
- Saturday, July 21st – The Annual Mussel Throw-Down Presented by Stella Artois
For full information on each day, including participating restaurants, list of specials, specific details, and additional items of note, please visit www.belgianrestaurantweekdc.com, or follow us on Facebook: Belgian Restaurant Week DC or Twitter: BelgianWeekDC.
About the participating Restaurants and Chefs:
Belga Café, B Too
Belgian native and Michelin trained Chef Bart Vandaele has been serving Washingtonians his Belgian cuisine at the original Belgian café, Belga Café, for eight years. As founder of DC’s Belgian Restaurant Week, Vandaele has been working with Ambassador Matthysen through the years highlighting Belgium’s strong culinary contribution to the international field through events, product awareness and tourism campaigns. Raised in the Flemish-speaking northern region of Belgium, Chef attended the Culinary Institute for Restaurant and Hotel Management in Brugge and worked at acclaimed Restaurant Scholteshof. He went on to serve as Executive Chef for the European Union’s head diplomat to the United States. As a result of his commitment to Belgian cuisine and products, Vandaele was ‘knighted’ by the Belgian Brewers Guild in 2009, and in 2010, he was awarded the Belgian decoration “Ridder in de Orde van Leopold II” or “Knight in the Order of Leopold II”. His forthcoming restaurant, B Too, is expected to open December 2012.
Brasserie Beck, Marcel’s, Mussel Bar, Brabo
This 20 year Washington-based hunting, fishing, cooking powerhouse, Robert Wiedmaier, infuses the cuisine at his five establishments with varying degrees of his own Belgian heritage. At Brasserie Beck, Belgium is the bold-faced theme of this stylish casual spot modeled after a vintage Brussels train station, an array of mussel preparations and the area’s most comprehensive selection of Belgian beers are signature choices—including a beer brewed exclusively for him. The influence is subtle at Marcel’s, his flagship restaurant was rated the top restaurant for food in Washington, DC and one of 25 Top Restaurants in the Country in Zagat’s 2011 Survey. Born in Germany to a Belgian father and Californian mother, he grew up in Europe, close to the land, milking cows, helping with the slaughter of sheep, and everything else that was required on a real working farm. Robert has been branded-Full Circle Chef—exemplifying what he holds closest to him—living true to his heritage and practicing it with great admiration.
Chef Teddy Folkman has spent the past decade pursuing his passion for the culinary arts, constantly expanding and improving his craft. As Executive Chef of Granville Moore's Gastropub on H Street, NE, Teddy has solidified his place in the DC restaurant scene while reaping critical-acclaim for the restaurants moules, including a victorious face-off on Food Network’s “Throwdown with Bobby Flay,” as well as accolades for its extensive list of Belgian and Belgian-inspired beers. Teddy also is the co-founder of the annual “DC Beer Week,” and travels the country speaking about food and beer as the Culinary Ambassador for Brewery Ommegang.
After working as the personal chef to the Irish Ambassador for the past six years, Claudio Pirollo is bringing his food down-home, with the opening of his restaurant, Et Voila! Chef Pirollo, who was named “Best Young Chef in Belgium” in 1994, features authentic Belgian cuisine in his new bistro-style restaurant. The menu includes such traditional items as Carbonnade á la Flamande (Flemish ale-simmered beef stew) and sugary Lieges Waffles. Using only the freshest organic ingredients, Pirollo enjoys serving Washingtonians dishes he grew up loving.
Opened in 2008, Locolat Cafe is family-owned and operated and has provided the very best in Belgian chocolates and cakes for clientele in the Washington Metropolitan area. Pastry Chef Niel Piferoen is a Belgian native who brings award winning desserts and internationally renowned Belgian chocolate to the DC area alongside his wife and father. Piferoen attended the Bakery and Pastry School Ter Groene Poorte in Brugge, Belgium. His culinary repertoire includes Michel Richard Citronelle, working under Ewald Notter, World Master of Sugar and Chocolate, Red Sage in Washington DC and the opening Pastry Chef of Restaurant Eve. He was also Pastry Chef for the Michelin reviewed restaurant, Karmeliet.
Inspired by the story of Marvin Gaye's infamous two years in self-imposed exile in the small Belgian town of Ostend, the creators of Marvin have combined the cafe society of Belgium, with the proud soul of Shaw. Home cooked classics from Belgium to the American South. Belgian Moulles-Frites are served along side Southern-Style Shrimp and Grits. The classic steak-frites and fried chicken with Belgian waffles are just two of the many top dishes created by Chef Jonathan Nickerson. Adding to the experience is a soundtrack of rare funk, soul, ska, and jazz created by Thievery Corporation's Eric Hilton. Upstairs at Marvin is one of DC's best lounges and rooftop decks. The turntables inside the lounge are manned by a collective of friends that have been digging for rare soul gems to create the right atmosphere.
Le Pain Quotidien
What he wanted was so simple: bread, hearty and wholesome, with a firm slice and a good crust. Alain Coumont learned about bread as a small child, standing on a chair every Sunday watching his grandmother bake bread. As a young chef in Brussels, Alain could not find the right bread for his restaurant. Passionate about quality, he returned to his roots and opened a small bakery where he could knead flour, salt and water into the rustic loaves of his childhood. He called his bakery “Le Pain Quotidien".