You Gonna Eat All That?

A fork in one hand, a pen in the other.

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Location: Virginia, United States

(Biscuit Girl)

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Belga Cafe (with pictures)

So we were without A/C over the Memorial Day weekend. We simply could not face cooking at home and adding more heat to the house. Dining out, preferably someplace with the A/C cranked would be lovely. So we called our friends B and L to see if they would like to go somewhere with us. Yes, they would. Our first choice was Monmontre but when we called to make reservations we found out they are closed on Mondays. where else would we all like to go. After a few phone calls back and forth to our DC friends, we decided on Belga Cafe.

I was game. A less than glowing review on DC Food Blog was my one concern. Surely the place isn't still that bad. it wasn't that bad but it did leave us feeling like there was still a lot of room for improvement.

Biscuit Boy and I got there a few minutes early. We walked in and the place was about half filled. However, they wouldn't seat us until the entire party arrived. This is one of my pet peeves with restaurants. You have a reservation, there are plenty of tables, and they won't seat you until everyone is there. What's with that?! Do they honestly think they can seat someone else in the empty tables, feed them and have the table ready for us in time for our reservations? No, I think not.

We finally get our table (note there are still about a dozen empty tables). And we wait.....and wait......and wait. Waitstaff are frenzied and running hither and dither. Not a good sign for the rest of our meal.

When someone finally comes to our table, she apologized that the place was short handed (an ominous sign). She asks what we would like to drink. I choose a glass of wine. B&L and Biscuit Boy decide to order a large bottle of beer to split. A few minutes later the server comes back and says they are out of the beer. So another one is selected. A few minutes later the server appears again and guess what? Yup, they are out of that beer also. (Maybe it would have been easier to just ask what they did have) But the threesome persevere and select a third bottle. Lo and behold, they have it. The server brings it to the table and begins to undo the cork which is like a champagne cork. However, she's afraid of opening it! So she goes to find someone else to help her. OY! She comes back and pours a glass for Biscuit Boy then pours a glass for L. But when she gets to B's glass there is only enough left in the bottle for about 1/3 of a glass! I just wanted to laugh out loud at this point. It was becoming a comedy of errors with this *#@%*&#$ bottle of beer. B graciously accepted her sip of beer and left the boys to their full glasses.

So now we all finally have beverages and select our appetizers and entrees. The appetizers arrived surprisingly fast (about 10-15 minutes) compared to how things are moving along so far.

We forgot to take pics of the appetizers. We had the Lauwe Aspergesalade (Baked asparagus with frisee salad, slices of salmon with coriander butter. Quite good too. The coriander butter mixed with the salmon and asparagus was a great combination. Hot salad I could live without eating that again. Biscuit rating: 3.5 biscuits

B & L had Asperges op Z'n Vlaams. Poached asparagus with light egg parsley butter sauce. I snagged a nibble and it was very tasty. Biscuit rating 4 biscuits

It about the time that Biscuit Boy, B & L needed more beer. So they get the server to bring another bottle. She comes back to the table with the new bottle (already opened for her) and begins to pour it into L's glass. Oops! It's not the same beer. This one is dark beer.....same brand as the one from before but a different variety. Oh sweet lord this is becoming painful to watch. I was so glad at this point that I chose wine instead of joining them for beer. She apologizes and offers to get the right beer but everyone else at the table said it was ok. They may have been afraid to see what else would be brought out.

So the entree's finally arrive. L got the Halibut (or was it grouper, see this is what happens when you wait too long to post). The presentation was nice but the nugget of fish was shameful. It was smaller than the palm of my hand. And for the price, it was especially small. The fish was very tasty according to L but the onions were a bit too salty. They did help perk up the potatoes though. Biscuit rating (based on what I was told as I didn't try this dish): 3 biscuitsB ordered the Filet of Venison. The menu said it came with sweet potatoes, pomegranate sauce and foie gras creme. Well two out of three ain't bad. Regular potatoes arrived instead of sweet. The venison was very tender and flavorful. B commented on her little waffle being very cute. I agree. Biscuit rating: 4 biscuits

Biscuit Boy ordered the Belgian Mussels with Hoegaarden, bacon and celery. A nice potful of mussels arrived with Belgian fries. They were small but tasty. Everyone tried one and liked them. I didn't care for the broth. I've had better, most recently at Les Halle. Biscuit rating: 3.5 biscuits.

I ordered the Flemish Beef Stew with Belgian fries and red cabbage. The meat was so tender and fell apart as soon as the fork touched it. Flavoring was good and well balanced. Biscuit rating 3.5 biscuits. I left about three large pieces on my plate to take home (one for Sophie and the rest for my lunch). But the plates were cleared and nobody every asked if we wanted to save anything. We were busy talking and I honestly didn't think about it until after the plates were gone. So my leftovers were thrown away!
We all decided on getting dessert. The server cam around and brought us the dessert menus. Why, I have no idea because she then tells us there are only two desserts to choose from. (Their pastry chef didn't show up that day) There was a chocolate cake and a trio of chocolate creme brulees.

Well Biscuit Boy had been craving a cheese plate the last couple of times we ate out and he remebered seeing one of the appetizer menu so he ordered it for us. B&L ordered the creme brulee trio. Ah, Creme brulee, my love! I was jealous and hoped to get a little nibble from them.

The cheese tray came out and was very nice. Four selections of cheese with a little salad in the middle topped with a cheese wafer. The cheeses were a goat cheese (smooth and creamy), a beer cheese (very pungent but yummy), and two others that I cannot remember but they were very good as well. We ate about half of it and got the rest boxed to go. Biscuit rating: 3 biscuits.
The Creme brulee.........was a disappointment, a big disappointment. It should have been named Creme UnBrulee. They were obviously made ahead of time, including caramelizing the sugar on top. After sitting in a fridge for some time, the top became soft again. No hard crispy sugar topping was found on any of the trio. And speaking of trio......The best B&L could determine there were only two flavors of chocolate on the plate, white and dark. They asked the server about the three flavors. She said they were dark, white and orange. Orange? B&L went back in and tasted the two dark chocolates and sure enough, once you looked for it, there was a hint of orange in one of them. But had they not asked, we never would have known. I tasted the (supposed) orange one and thought it tasted like jello instant pudding. Probably the worst creme brulee I've ever had. Biscuit rating: 1/2 biscuit

And we enjoyed our dinner with out much A/C. The precious cool air we sought eluded us throughout the meal. I don't know why the place was so warm, it wasn't even full.

All in all the meal wasn't a disaster. We had a good time as always with B&L and most of the food was tasty. But the service and creme brulee really hurt the overall experience. And it was somewhat overpriced in my opinion. Would I go there again? Probably not on my own choosing. Overall Biscuit rating: 2 biscuits

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Blogger s'kat said...

At least the company was good!

12:43 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

That was our one saving grace.

2:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, it did have some good moments. I hate when my leftovers vanish! And what a disappointment with the creme brulee. I've had the same thing happen to me. Jeesh, with the little kitchen blow torches they have now, couldn't someone have taken a minute to do a proper brulee?

3:02 PM  
Blogger Dough-Boy said...

OK, we are NOT going there when I come to see you!!

Oh, I updated my blog today...

8:51 PM  
Blogger ScottE. said...

I was just there this weekend for brunch with 6 was great! The service was fast and complete, the restaurant full of people inside and outside on the patio. We actually look forward to going back sometime for dinner, based on what we saw on the menu. Sounds like the food was mostly good but the poor service ruined the evening! Sorry to hear that. At our brunch we had crepes with nutella, waffles with apples & cinnamon and two people had plates with eggs and things. I've actually been working on a post for my blog, but it's been delayed by real life stuff.

2:00 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

DoughBoy: Don't worry, I think there's going to be sushi on the menu when you visit.

Scott: We must have hit them on a bad night, I suppose. Glad to know you guys had a good time.

4:24 PM  
Blogger DC Food Blog said...

What's the deal with Belga's service? I just don't get it. At least when J and I went, they were full so they had an excuse. I have yet to hear a story of anyone getting GOOD service.

4:38 PM  
Blogger Elle said...

My friends and I laughed and said the service felt like being in Europe again, but I had a great time there. I went around June too and had the beef stew as well. I made sure to ask the waiter for my leftovers and had the beer creme brulee, which wasn't bad at all.

2:23 PM  

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