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Al Dente

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.

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

Too bad they haven't listed it on their website yet....Badly done!

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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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I received this from Belga today re: RW...doesn't look like you get much choice.
Received that email as well. No choices whatsoever for dinner? I'm sorry, but that stinks.

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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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At least they publish the menu so you can check in advance. A few RWs ago, I went to Equinox. Although they had a very limited menu, I knew the options appealed to me so I went and enjoyed it.

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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.

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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!

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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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