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Belga Cafe, Chef Bart Vandaele on 8th & E Streets SE on Barracks Row


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What, no thread on Belga? sad.gif

Dropped in last night with my brother and nabbed the last two seats at the bustling bar. Despite the frenzied atmosphere, our bartender provided us with calm, cool, and efficient service.

We both had steaks-- he had the hanger with roasted potatoes, and I had the "Belga Steak" which was a filet with herbed butter and their killer frites. Both steaks were cooked perfectly and absolutely delicious. My only complaint would be that the menu should state that the "Belga Steak" is a filet mignon. I'm glad I ordered it, but I'm not typically a big fan of filet as I prefer the more flavorful cuts.

If you haven't been yet, go!

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How's the beer list? I was in a while back and they said they were going to keep trying to expand it. Mmm, Belgian beer.

They had all 3 kinds of Chimay (I believe there are only 3, right?), Delirium Tremens, Leffe, and a few others. I stuck with a good Cotes du Rhone just because I had a "couple" of Hoegaardens at home before we went out.

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Yum. Had lunch today at Belga. Had an incredible salad. But the dessert sampler was so much fun. Two mini creme brulee's, choc ice cream, a mini flourless choc cake, a mini choc mousse. We had asked for raspberrry sorbet as the "ice cream" so they brought us some. YUMMMMMMM.

I want to go back for a real meal. (i.e. not salad)...

Oh, their restaurant week menu looks really good. At lunch the dessert is going to be a cold fruit soup.

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I've only been to Belga once, but it was pretty much a perfect dinner. The space is, IMO, really attractive and I loved the food. Everything from poached asparagus with hard-cooked egg to the aforementioned hanger steak with potatoes (cooked with chunks of BACON!!! :P )...really delicious.

On our way out the door, we met the previously-discussed Bart (see egullet) who is in that sorta dreamy club started by Derek. :wub:

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I received this from Belga today re: RW...doesn't look like you get much choice.

LUNCH

RED AND GREEN

Tomato confit stuffed with baby grey shrimps and Salade

Roulade with goat cheese and fresh herbs

MUSSELS OR STEAK

Mussels with Rodenbach beer, asparagus and bacon

or

Grilled hanger steak with béarnaise-beer

sauce, farm vegetables and Belgian fries

RED FRUIT SOUP

Cherry and peach beer soup with fresh berry’s,

home made vanilla ice cream

DINNER

TOMATO, SUSHI and CIGAAR

Tomato gelee with seafood and curry-creme,

a Chinese salad with Belga’s Cigaar and

‘Belgian Endive Sushi’

RABBIT AND CRAWFISH

Rabbit fillet and sausage with sautéed Girolle mushrooms and crawfish Tails, accompanied by a lobster and béarnaise sauce

THE BELGA DESSERT SAMPLER

Belgian chocolate, summer fruit, home-made ice cream and

Belgian Waffle

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A nice way to not get my business...

I think it is unrealstic to expect a small restaurant to offer a full menu for "cut rate" prices. There is nothing wrong with a restaurant choosing to have a set menu for a special event. You don't have to eat there during RW... go for a real meal... better way to judge a restaurant anyway

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I think it is unrealstic to expect a small restaurant to offer a full menu for "cut rate" prices.  There is nothing wrong with a restaurant choosing to have a set menu for a special event.  You don't have to eat there during RW...  go for a real meal... better way to judge a restaurant anyway

I think it's reasonable to expect at least once choice for RW. I've been a faithful RW person since NY started doing it and have converted many RW lunches and dinners into favorite places that I go back to regularly. If you aren't going to bother to even offer the pretext of choice, then why do RW?

And at $30, I think it is a real meal...

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RABBIT AND CRAWFISH

Rabbit fillet and sausage with sautéed Girolle mushrooms and crawfish Tails, accompanied by a lobster and béarnaise sauce

Is it just me, or does this entree sound like a disaster in the making?

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Is it just me, or does this entree sound like a disaster in the making?

Nope, it's not just you. I was there for brunch yesterday (very good croque-monsieur), and I saw that they had the RW menu taped to the inside door of the women's bathroom. The rabbit and crawfish combination caught my eye right away. I don't think I'll be trying that. I guess I'm not as adventurous food-wise as I thought :P

edited for typos

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Nope, it's not just you.  I was there for brunch yesterday (very good croque-monsieur), and I saw that they had the RW menu taped to the inside door of the women's bathroom.  The rabbit and crawfish combination caught my eye right away.  I don't think I'll be trying that.  I guess I'm not as adventurous food-wise as I thought :P

edited for typos

I don't think you should use RW time on Belga. It's great for an everyday sort of place (fantastic for lunch, when it's a little less busy/cacophanous). Their frites are superlative, especially with a glass of delicious ale.

Their beer list, by the way, could have a hundred options, but I would return every time to one: DeKoninck, DeKoninck, DeKoninck (also available at the Reef).

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[Paraphrase of what's posted on my blog]

Went to Belga Cafe last night. I forewent the RW menu and went straight for the normal menu. I had:

Lauwe Aspargesalade: a baked asparagus salad with frisee tossed in a simple vinegarette topped with slightly cooked pieces of salmon. I have to note here that they totally forgot I ordered this. As I reminded them after one of my dining companions had already finished her salad and they were setting down the flatware for the next course, they finally brought it to me. Time was about 40 minutes after we sat down at the table. The salad itself was perfectly done otherwise. The salmon was fresh and just the right combination of seared on the outside and pretty much raw on the inside.

Mussels with Rodenbach Ale, bacon, and asparagus: Nothing really to say except this was exactly what I was looking for. Served with Vlaamse frites, this really hit the spot. I don't have a bad thing to say about this.

Ice cream with waffles and chocolate sauce: The waffles were soft and tasty, the chocolate sauce was the consistency of Nutella, but good nonetheless. It reminded me of getting waffles at this corner pastry shop on the Leidsestraat in Amsterdam. Not Belgian, I know, but they were good waffles.

So I have to mention that the service was flat out bad. Between them forgetting my salad, LONG delays in service, I was really ready to hate this place. I really wanted to hate the aspargesalade but damn it was good. I just couldn't get myself to do it. The place was packed, and we even had to wait quite a while to get our seat even though we had a reservation. The staff was trying though, and I think RW just really pushed the limits of the small space and the small staff. I'm not quite sure I could hold that against them in good conscience. I definitely would like to go back when it's not RW and see how different things are then. I'm definitely going back for the mussels.

Edited by mxyzptlk
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I took my roommate to Belga Cafe last night to celebrate his 31st birthday. It was a first visit for both of us, but it certainly won't be the last. We arrived fifteen minutes early for our 7:15 reservation and were provided the option of sitting in the front window or in the rear of the restaurant, across from the kitchen. The host suggested we might prefer the table in the back because it was somewhat more spacious. We took her suggestion and I sat, back to the wall, in full view of the goings on in the kitchen. It was fun to see the chef at work, and I was surprised that there was only one other person on the line. By 7:30 the place was full.

As much as I hate doing so, since neither of us had dined there before, we shared all of our food. As in 50-50 split. Everything; right down the middle. We ordered the Poached Asparagus, Kip and Krab Sigaars, the Coquilles Saint-Jacques (pan seared scallops with carrot-mousseline and young carrots in cumin), and the Le Vrai Steak Belge (The real Belgian Steak; as mentioned in the first post in the thread, a WONDERFUL center cut steak topped with a hit-your-grandma-it's-so-good herbed butter), which was served with Frites and a small salad. With the exception of the poached asparagus, which lacked any significant flavor, everything we ate was delicious. I would choose that steak 8 visits out of 10. And the Kip and Krab Sigaars were like fried goodies you'd find in the best of Thai restaurants--piping hot, no residual grease to speak of (on the plate, the food, on our fingers), plump and filled with only shrimp and chicken, and served with sweet and savory sauces that were nice complements.

We were happy with our beer choices: Chimay Cinq Cents, Rodenbach, Stella, and Hoegaarden. We forwent dessert at the restaurant to meet up with some other folks at Love Cafe on U Street.

Our service was fine: young and busy--but not hurried--and always available when attention was needed. I had to solicit recommendations whilst ordering and, later, request a steak knife. Overall, our waiter read our table just right.

It went by quickly. We were in and out of the restaurant in 80 minutes.

Edited by LoganCircle
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My boyfriend and I went to Belga Cafe last night and really enjoyed our meal. The portions were a really nice size. I had the mussels in the white wine sauce and frites and they were amazing. Big plump mussels and the broth was a perfect compliment. My boyfriend had the belga steak, which came with frites and a salad, which he also really enjoyed. We shared the flourless chocolate cake which was a perfect end to a great meal. I really liked the space and our waitress was accomidating and made great recommendations.

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this is a kitchen that really likes to dice, and there are some unusual ingredient combinations that are usually small enough to ignore if you don't like them. Both of our meals here in june were good, the steak and mussels excellent. the cooking seems to be regionally authentic, down to the small crustaceans in mayonnaise, and the frites were outstanding, even though they don't fry them in horse fat, do they?

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We just made a reservation here for New Year's Eve.  I know, I know - amateur's night.  We figured we could get a decent dinner here (love the mussels and beer selection) and, as a bonus, we can walk to our friends' place for the real celebration.

That sure sounds like a plan to me.
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We just made a reservation here for New Year's Eve.  I know, I know - amateur's night.  We figured we could get a decent dinner here (love the mussels and beer selection) and, as a bonus, we can walk to our friends' place for the real celebration.

After our out-of-town plans for New Years fell through last year we ended up at Belga last minute. It was actually quite nice, very leisurely, and we were even the first seating. Menu was fixed if I recall; price did not seem outlandish given what most places try to pull, and I was more than happy having good beer options. It ended up being just what we were looking for. Have fun!

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Quick note-stopped in here for a quick drink with some friends who own 'Homebody' across the street and was really impressed with the food and the beer selection-can't remember specific details (did I mention the beer selection?), but we ate and drank our way thru the menu like Vikings; then the owner proffered some new items including some dessert items that blew us all away. We ended up staying for hours! A really fun spot, and the owner was extremely gracious. I hadn't been down here in years, and it's a fun area to walk around in. Belgians can party!

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I was there for dinner a few months back. Great food, happy place, and NOISY. If you're looking for a quiet, romantic dinner, this isn't the place. Otherwise, it's fun and delicious!

One time we were seated at a corner table for 2, and it was less noisy than various spots we'd been seated on other visits, even though the place was packed and bustling. I asked what the table number was. I'm pretty sure it was 33. (Smart of me to write it down and have no idea where I wrote it <_< .) The disadvantage of that table, however, was that it wasn't so easy for the server to make his way back there.
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One time we were seated at a corner table for 2, and it was less noisy than various spots we'd been seated on other visits, even though the place was packed and bustling.  I asked what the table number was.  I'm pretty sure it was 33.  (Smart of me to write it down and have no idea where I wrote it <_< .)  The disadvantage of that table, however, was that it wasn't so easy for the server to make his way back there.

Thanks for the tip!

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Had a great dinner at Belga last Saturday night. An updated summer menu is available, with 3 new mussel preparations. We had the mussels with leeks and vanilla essence, which were really tasty.

The place was packed until 10:30, and the chef himself was playing host.

Do yourself a favor and go. It's great fun and excellent food.

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I stopped at Belga Cafe for dinner last Friday on my way to the Nationals/Cubs game. It was early enough (about 5:30pm) that the place was fairly empty. I sat at the bar and basically had the inside of the restaurant to myself (a few outside tables were full). Service was ok - there were way more staff than needed at that point which led to them crowding together chit-chatting at the end of the bar. This led to slower service for me at the beginning of my meal as they seemed more into visiting with each other than taking my dinner order. Service improved once my food started coming out, though.

For an appetizer, I had the kip & krab sigaars. Delicious with a crispy but not greasy shell. My entree was the mussels with rodenbach. Generous serving and they brought out bread which I could then dip into the broth. The mussels are served with frites and mayonnaise. I'm a little spoiled by my favorite Belgian place here in Chicago so I was hoping for a garlic mayo, but Belga serves plain mayo with the frites. Still the dinner was good. I forget the name of the dessert I chose, but it consisted of a cherry cake and ice cream (my description doesn't do justice to the dessert).

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I agree with other posters that this place is very good. If you like Belgian beers, Belga has a wide selection of hard to find and obscure brands. I had an asparagus with butter and egg sauce that was really amazing, and the mussels and frites are delicious. It's a fun place and is worth the trip to Barracks Row.

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I just got back from my first Belga experience, and it was good. Two dishes really stood out -- the Hoegaarden Mussels (the bacon in this dish was overpowering, but in a great way) and the Speculoos Ice Cream. The Ice Cream came with a forgettable chocolate dessert -- but I would have been happy with just a few scoops of the slightly spicy ice cream to finish my meal.

Overall, a fun experience and I'm definitely going back to sit at the bar for more beer, mussels, and frites. And ice cream.

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I just got back from my first Belga experience, and it was good. Two dishes really stood out -- the Hoegaarden Mussels (the bacon in this dish was overpowering, but in a great way) and the Speculoos Ice Cream. The Ice Cream came with a forgettable chocolate dessert -- but I would have been happy with just a few scoops of the slightly spicy ice cream to finish my meal.

Overall, a fun experience and I'm definitely going back to sit at the bar for more beer, mussels, and frites. And ice cream.

Welcome to the board sandhuy!

Those mussels sound delish - beer and baccon... yum!

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A friend and I had a relaxing meal at Belga last night. We split an excellent chilled pea soup with smoked salmon and roe, perfect for the weather, and I had the red and yellow beet salad special with goat cheese. Both dishes were beautifully presented. We each got the Mussels Mariniere and fries. I was totally stuffed by this point, but she also got the flourless chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream, presented with berries at each corner of the plate and swirls of (strawberry?) fruit sauce. The emptied plate looked like an abstract painting, with the remnants of all of the different colors. It's one thing to have good presentation at the beginning, but for the empty plate to be a work of art is something else :)

I've always enjoyed my meals at Belga but they seem to be getting ever so slightly incrementally better over time. The service has also been especially good on recent visits.

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Had Brunch this morning. The diminutive waffle portions were a bit of a surprise, but the menu and corresponding products were scrumptious. Herb eggs al la green eggs and ham. Some truly lovely interpretations of brunch fare. Bloody Marys super good, a little to much like cocktail sauce. The baby salad was super, the fries a little soggy, shocking for a place making it on the Belgian experience.

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Had Brunch this morning. The diminutive waffle portions were a bit of a surprise, but the menu and corresponding products were scrumptious. Herb eggs al la green eggs and ham. Some truly lovely interpretations of brunch fare. Bloody Marys super good, a little to much like cocktail sauce. The baby salad was super, the fries a little soggy, shocking for a place making it on the Belgian experience.
Welcome, daejea.
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Dinner last night at Belga for the first time in a while. Friday night, had a reservation for 8:30 and it was jammed. Waited a few minutes to be seated, but had corner table... tough on the waitress to get back & forth, but the crowded, loud atmosphere was very enjoyable. It felt a bit like a bustling Paris bistro. What a tribute to how much the Hill and 8th Street have changed in the last 5-10 years.

We split the grilled mussels (have had them before and watching the shells leave a neighboring table reminded me) were amazing, with garlic and butter. If you like grilled oysters, you will love these grilled mussels. Soak up all the butter with the tasty basket of bread.

My dinner was the Le Vrai Steak Belge, which is (as noted up the thread) a filet with compound better on top, along with frites to die for, and a bowl of lightly dressed, mustardy mixed greens. Steak was rested perfectly, cooked consistently to temp (med rare) throughout. My taste of my wife's rabbit was pleasing as well. The frites are crispy the way they ought to be... a dark golden brown that leaves you upending the cone to get the little stragglers out of the bottom.

Dessert was the chocolate flourless cake with scoop of ice cream. The warm cake on a very cold night hit the spot as it melted the ice cream with each bite.

Espresso & coffees came after dessert, which felt very Parisian and kept us inside a bit longer before venturing out into the cold. We were full, but not stuffed beyond belief (a good thing!).

Service was very cheery and kind. Meike offered some very tasty advice on wine & beer selections. She goes out of her way to be helpful, kind, and a pleasure to dine with.

The beer list is extensive, and although I first ordered a White Elephant (1/2 Delirium & 1/2 Hoegaarten) and they were out of DT on tap, I ended up with Duchesse De Bourgogne. She described it as mustardy, and that was a great description. I would also note that its nothing like any beer I've ever tasted. Almost like a wine. Once it warms a bit closer to room temp, it really opens up. Of course, its from Belgium, not Burgundy. (Check it out at: http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/verhaeghe-duc...ourgogne/6945/) I will have to return however to try the DT/H half & half.

Overall rating of this visit: 4 out of 5 for the cooking, beer, and service (a 5 of 5 for the service!)

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Dinner at the bar last night. I started with the cold avocado-cilantro-crab soup. The presentation was gorgeous. The soup was served in a carafe, to be poured over minced vegetables (I didn't note what they were) in the soup bowl. I can't describe it without a photo, and I didn't take take any ;). The soup was good and refreshing but a bit thin for my tastes. It wasn't as lush as I suppose I expect avocado soup to be. Had a flavorful sour wheat bread as well.

The mussels mariniere and fries were as delicious as always.

I sampled a lighter Belgian beer that was a bit floral (can't recall the name) but settled on draft Stella.

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we ate at Belga Cafe yesterday after walking around the Flea Market and checking out the new digs of the Market. We really enjoyed it and we were even sitting outside (sunny table). What impressed us the most was how hard the chef/owner (I believe) was working at making evey thing right. He was sitting people, hailing cabs, adjustingt tables. That attention to detail really blew us away and made us want to come back and eat inside. Mussels were great- but I thought- and maybe this is just the way my mom made them- a croque monsier was a grilled ham and cheese cooked like french toast- this was just a grilled ham and cheese. Any experts?

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we ate at Belga Cafe yesterday after walking around the Flea Market and checking out the new digs of the Market. We really enjoyed it and we were even sitting outside (sunny table). What impressed us the most was how hard the chef/owner (I believe) was working at making evey thing right. He was sitting people, hailing cabs, adjustingt tables. That attention to detail really blew us away and made us want to come back and eat inside. Mussels were great- but I thought- and maybe this is just the way my mom made them- a croque monsier was a grilled ham and cheese cooked like french toast- this was just a grilled ham and cheese. Any experts?

I personally never had it made like french toast. I returned from France a few weeks ago and ate Monsieu/ madam a lot, (I perfer Madam) and they look the same, as preapred at Belga.

post-1319-1193683960_thumb.jpg

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Found ourselves in Eastern Market on Sat morning and realized it was a short walk to Belga. It was our 1st time and we were intrigued, as the menu looked quite promising. Ended up having a really disappointing brunch. My wife had eggs baked in toast (iirc) and it was so doused in butter that you could only eat a few bites before feeling nauseas. I had an omelet that tasted like nothing, even tho it was filled with ham and cheese. The ham looked like deli slices and the cheese might have been provolone...either way it was horribly bland. I'm not sure they did any doctoring to the eggs before cooking them, either. Also, I asked if they would add tomato to my omelet and the waitress said no. Apparently they only do subtractions, not additions, as the kitchen gets too busy/backed up otherwise. Of course, as I mentioned, it was early Sat. and there were all of 3 tables seated, 5 by the time we left, so I’m not sure why she wasn’t willing to accommodate me given the circumstances, and really, adding tomato is a fairly benign request. Ah well...

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Open Table came in handy last night (Labor Day) - I used it to find a restaurant - any restaurant - that was open. Belga Cafe seemed like the perfect choice after a long, sun-drenched day of hiking - I wanted taut, acidic white wine, and I knew Belga would have Sancerres and Muscadets on their list.

And what a good wine I found: 2006 Christian Lauverjat Sancerre "Perle Blanche." A knowledgeable friend mentioned to me the other day that virtually the entire portfolio of Ed Addiss (Wine Traditions, Falls Church) is worth trying, and I can say the same for Laurent Givry of Elite Wines (based in Lorton).

The mussels at Belga are, to my palate, better than the rope-grown Prince Edward Island monsters you find at Granville Moore's. I realize these are farm-raised too, but I think the enormous, "consistent" PEI mutants so many people rave about have all the charm of a steroid-stuffed Purdue chicken breast. They might be big, but they have no flavor, and they're a chore to finish. The mussels at Belga Cafe are smaller and better. The fries and mayonnaise were good last night, too.

I'd almost forgotten how busy, almost tortured, some of the recipes are here. A filet of venison came on a huge square plate which was completely painted with various condiments, even though it contained only three pieces of venison (two medallions, one tip). The venison was perfectly cooked, and sampling all the little pockets of flavor was a fascinating exercise - a little sweet-potato puree here, a macerated apple there, the occasional pine nut. There was a lot to choose from, and not everything worked, but this ambitious dish is still worth ordering. And it comes with fried boudin noir ravioli!

As backwater as it sounds, one of my favorite things about Belgian menus is having a chuckle over the "near translations" you can find: Witloof Salade (Waldorf Salad), Krab Sigaar, Cool Advokado Soep, and maybe my favorite of all, West Afrikaanse Zeebaars. Who knew Belga would have pirated from the Phillipines with their Banaan Loempias? This was another complex plating with banana / plantain spring rolls with a almond / pistachio paste, passion-fruit / amaretto ice cream, lavender honey, raspberries, and yellow-pepper "Pico de Gallo" to pick from and play with. A good deal of thought and effort went into this dessert, and it shows.

A solid night for Belga Cafe, with friendly service, a bustling (but not overwhelming) crowd, and Bart Vandaele not officially "working," but prowling and roaming the restaurant. The patio here would be a good choice as we head into the cooler afternoons of September, but you'll need to call and reserve it in advance.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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Any more recent dining suggestions in addition to Don's? I'm meeting someone here on Monday and there are so many things on the menu posted on the website that look good--Mussels will probably be a definite, unless anyone can recommend some other must-have dishes. Appetizers, desserts, any thoughts would be appreciated!

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Any more recent dining suggestions in addition to Don's? I'm meeting someone here on Monday and there are so many things on the menu posted on the website that look good--Mussels will probably be a definite, unless anyone can recommend some other must-have dishes. Appetizers, desserts, any thoughts would be appreciated!

The family and I ate here last night. Owing to the unusually poor behavior of our children, I was too stressed out and focussed on maintaining my blood-alcohol level to concentrate on the food as much as I would have liked. However, I can say that the tuna terrine with couscous is excellent: a seared rare morsel of tuna surrounded by a jacket of couscous and prettily garnished with a tasty seaweed salad with sesame. I liked this dish more than I thought I would. The Belgian peppersteak was also excellent. The beef was so deeply flavored and gamey I thought they may have given me the venison by mistake. It was meltingly tender and served in a nicely reduced sauce with roasted vegetables. The fries could have been crisper. The service was intrepidly patient under the circumstances.

It had been a long time since we had been to Belga, but we were glad to see the food is as good as ever, if not better. Too bad my kids aren't goldfish.

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I'd almost forgotten how busy, almost tortured, some of the recipes are here. A filet of venison came on a huge square plate which was completely painted with various condiments, even though it contained only three pieces of venison (two medallions, one tip). The venison was perfectly cooked, and sampling all the little pockets of flavor was a fascinating exercise - a little sweet-potato puree here, a macerated apple there, the occasional pine nut. There was a lot to choose from, and not everything worked, but this ambitious dish is still worth ordering. And it comes with fried boudin noir ravioli!
Had a lovely dinner at the bar here last night ... Rocks is right, the venison, a little busy, was very tasty. I just got a couple of bites, as this was my friend's dish, but the bites I had worked, and the venison was perfectly cooked.

I had the duck breast, which was served slightly differently than described on the menu. It was maybe a touch more cooked than I would have preferred, but still good. (In fact, my friend who "doesn't like duck" loved his bite of it.) It came with a fried phyllo wrapper stuffed with confit, which was decadent, and a peach beer sauce that was nice. The one real miss on the plate was the couscous with dried fruits, which was prepared in such a way that it tasted really smoky - in a bad way. I tried to ask what spices were in it, to figure out if it was intended to taste that way, but my server wasn't sure and wasn't too eager to find out.

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I was meeting an old friend that I hadn't seen in over 30 years so I am probably more forgiving of the food experience we had. We sat outside on a perfectly lovely evening on Wednesday. The hostess was very friendly as I waited for my friend, and our waitress were very gracious and forgiving as we sat and talked forgetting to even open the menus!

For an opener, we shared the Poached Asparagus with a light egg-parsley butter sauce, Flemish style. I wasn't certain what to expect...the asparagus was al dente and fresh, and the sauce was very subtle. We both wondered where the egg was, as there wasn't any egg flavor in the dish, but eventually we noticed a few whites of hard-boiled eggs scattered about the plate. Oh, and there was some kind of fried thing on top, that didn't quite seem to "fit."

My friend ordered the Bacon wrapped monkfish with fingerling potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower with a lemon jenever butter sauce. I almost ordered this myself, but didn't want to order the same thing, having never been here before. She wasn't able to eat the whole thing, and dropped one of the morsels on my plate. I was disappointed that the monkfish was dry and tough, and glad that I didn't order it myself. And though the description sounded as if there would be a nice assortment on the plate, I do recall her plate having quite a lot of "white space" when it was delivered.

I ordered the Mussels Hoegaarden, with White ale, bacon and celery. First impression when the bowl was set in front of me is that there was more of a seawater smell than I have experienced before. A bit fishy--when I had mussels at Le Mannequin Pis in Olney this summer, there was none of that smell. These tasted OK, but not great. Perfectly fine, though for the type of evening we were having. The brown ale I had which was a special of the evening, was perfect. I just wish I had remembered to ask what it was!

I wouldn't mind going back to explore some of the starters, so I could get a better feel for the place without spending a lot of $. I wouldn't go out of my way necessarily, but if I were in the neighborhood or meeting someone in the area I would definitely go back. Again, the service was exceptional and we had a reallly nice evening.

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We took friends here for brunch on the weekend before the Inauguration. Super food was enjoyed by all - hanger steak, Belgian stew, prosciutto baguettes, and mussels. Everything was fresh and delicious. :o

Unfortunately, the "champagne" we ordered turned out not to be champagne. When I called it to our waiter's attention, he said he could serve us champagne, but at $12 a glass rather than the $7.50 listed on the menu. Huh??? Just because I can taste the difference between champagne and what was a serviceable sparkling wine from the Loire??? :P I think not! The waiter sympathized with our desire to be served what was on the menu (champagne $7.50) but said there was nothing he could do. I asked if anyone else could do anything and he offered to get the manager. The manager didn't appear but the waiter returned with champagne at the menu price.

Has anyone else encountered this lately? At the Belga Café or elsewhere? It kind of put a damper on things. If it happens again, I'm just going to stand up and ask the other "champagne" drinkers if they would like to request champagne at the listed price as well. :D

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This place was packed on RW Friday night, with nary a place to stand and wait. The RW offerings were, I think, specially created just for the last week. Overall, I think it was better to have gone with the regular menu, as my dining companion did, as I felt like something was missing from my RW entree and desserts.

Starter: Pan seared scallops with parmesan cheese powder and grilled red and golden beets -- this dish was my favorite of the night. It was lightly flavored and seasoned well. I did not care for the parmesan cheese accompaniment, but the beets' texture and taste paired decently with the scallops.

Entrée: Branzino with leeks and egg yolk tagliatelle with crèam fraiche and fresh herbs -- although the fish was moist and cooked well, there was a lack of flavor that the sauce couldn't even highlight or improve.

Dessert: Almond waffle with speculoos paste, warm pineapple and coconut ice cream -- a mini-Pina Colada if it was just the pineapple and coconut ice cream, but it didn't mesh with the almond waffle. Also, you couldn't taste the almond and it was just like eating crisp dough. A second dessert from the regular menu, the flourless chocolate torte, helped brighten things up immensely.

The beer selections* were vast and interesting. I really enjoyed the Petrus Dubbel Brown for most of the evening. I thought this was better than the Gulden Draak. The highlight was the Kwak my friend had, served in an interesting flask and holder. Very light, smooth and not too much of an aftertaste. However, my tastebuds + peach + beer conflicted for my second beer (St. Louis Peche), probably because that was what I was drinking with the chocolate flourless torte (Chocolade Taart). Don't try this at home.

Overall, the beers really made this night sparkle, as did our server.

*Edited!

Edited by goodeats
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