I love anything Belgium Food and Beer. We live locally and we have visited this place several times in the hopes that our experience will match up with the trip advisor and yelp ratings. However each visit proves to be more disappointing than the last. Yes, the mussels are great. If I could get over the cleanliness factor, I would always return for the mussels .
So let's talk about food: Aside from french fries, one of the most simple and beautiful things to accompany mussels is a crunchy roll of french bread. It appears the owners make due with baguettes that have been stored in plastic bags way to long. Very dry and very disappointing, because it does nothing to highlight the delicate sauces and the quality of mussels.
The Frites (the item the restaurant is named after) are boring. Belgium Frites are labor intensive, having to be blanched, set out to dry overnight and then fried. These fries are just limp, soggy, boring fries and certainly not twice fried.
We've also had the Steak au Poivre several times. We have never been able to get this steak cooked to the temperature requested, turning this into a $24 disappointment each time. Perhaps order an extra rare. and you may end up with a medium. In addition to this, the steak is overpoweringly garlicky.
The desert is overpriced and nothing to write home about. Floating Islands??? Really? So very basic. Belgium Waffles should be fantastic, however the flavor resembles Bisquick. I have heard that they have a new pastry chef, so maybe deserts are better now.
Atmosphere. In many ways I feel transported back to Belgium when entering the Restaurant - however - Belgium owners do know how to hold their liquor better. It appears that this restaurant is now owned by a Mother/ Son team, and depending on what time of the night you show up, you will find them in different stages of inebriation. On one occasion, we walked into their bartender-less bar area and found the mother with her bare feet up on the chaise. While the servers are all dressed professionally, depending on the time of the evening, you will find the son delivering food to tables in his khaki shorts, no apron, loudly auctioning the food because he is unaware of who has ordered what. Perhaps the most memorable experience was a recent evening where we witnessed the son throwing beer kegs from the bar refrigerator to the floor. In addition to this, your evening maybe highlighted with some explicative cussing at the kitchen and wait staff. The tables are placed very close together, which is typical for a Belgium or French Bistro. During one of our visits, the owner cleared the table next to us - without grace, loudly ripping the paper placemat off the table, throwing crumbs and debris onto our table. While the owners are around in the evenings, it appears they spend more time aimlessly bumbling around, hindering good service, eating off of plates at the bar, rather than contributing to the service in a professional and sober matter.
Cleanliness: What can I say? Go check out the bathrooms before you dine? I've never known the seat in the lady's bathroom to be fixed. The bathrooms are always in need of cleaning. When you pass the kitchen, perhaps don't look too close. For the price of the food, I would expect the look of a more well maintained kitchen.
Service: Aside from the mussels, this is perhaps the highlight of this restaurant. Steven, who I gather to be the maitre d is always welcoming, and will treat you with great respect and like a regular. The wait staff is amazing, gracious, very knowledgeable about the food and wine list, but unfortunately has to spend a lot of time apologizing for the shortcomings in kitchen and the blundering of the owners.
The concept of a Belgium Bistro is so much fun, and the location and design of the building has everything going for it. It would be nice if the owners could clean up their kitchen and their own act.
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