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Taps: 5 / Bottles: 34
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: N
$$$ - a bit pricey
[ Bar, Eatery ]
514 8th St SE
District of Columbia
phone: (202) 544-0100
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vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 2.5 | selection: 3.25 | food: 4.5 | $$$$
Dined here on the recommendation of a friend when I was in DC with my wife. Had never been over to the Eastern Market of DC, and I always enjoy checking out different parts of the city. It was warm enough when we were there, so we dined outside, but I did notice that the interior was long and narrow and looked a bit crowded. All of the food that we had was good, I had muscles and I think that my wife had steak and frites. The disappointing aspects of the place were the beer and the service. Perhaps I should not have been so harsh to judge them on the beer selection given that I had just gotten back from a trip from Belgium, but I quickly noticed that I had tried just about every one of the beer on the menu. I don't even recall what I had and I didn't even right it down, so it must have been something that I had previous had. And then there was the service...it was prompt when we arrived and I think that we were there for 2+ hours, but our server would go missing for long periods of time. I probably would have ordered a few more beers, but gave up at some point. Then we were ready to settle up and he brought the wrong bill and it must have been 10-15 minutes before he came back. I am not sure if they were trying to provide an authentic Belgian dining experience, as we had noted this while there, but if they were then they achieved it, but it does not cut it here.
Overall, I am unsure if I would go back. I also did find that the place was a little overpriced. I am used to paying higher prices in places like DC and the East Coast, but this was a little more than usual.
03-28-2013 20:05:52 |
More by PhillyStyle
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 2 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$$
This is a restaurant and beer cafe that has all the positives it needs except for service. The atmosphere is generally welcoming with some outdoor seating and a good romantic interior (though just a little bit more light would be nice). The beer selection is pretty unbeatable within the spectrum of Belgian ales. Though they don't venture much outside that realm there are a few, and I mean, it's a Belgian restaurant, so it makes sense. The food is delicious (mussel pots are great). Entree portions are hit or miss. My fish was a bit on the meagre side and my gf's was fairly sizable, but all of it was tasty. The shrimp croquettes app were a definite miss for me though.
The real negative is service. The wait staff looks like they're working hard, but they can really be slow. I also had an experience here that I generally find egregious. I ordered a beer from their menu that they were out of (no big deal), but instead of letting me choose another, they decided to give me a Palm instead. If you are out of a product, food or beverage, don't presume I'll want what you want to give me. Granted, this was a one time experience, but the service in general has never been outstanding.
On the whole,
06-07-2012 00:28:37 |
More by jsprain1
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 2.5 | food: 4.5 | $$$
Dined here on a Sat. night during Belgian beer week. Quite a small place on the main strip of the Eastern Market area of DC. Fairly large bar with a number of tables in the front area. Nicely decorated with a couple Belgium flags and other assorted fine dining swag. Atmosphere was fairly casual, quite loud and lots of bustle.
They had 5 beers on tap at the time. Blue moon, Stella, Hoegaarden, Palm Amber and another i don't remember. Overall, fairly disappointing, i was expecting some solid Belgian beers, not Blue Moon and Stella. I noticed a small booklet on the table advertising Stella and Blue Moon which i guess explains those two beers on tap. I'm not normally the guy that rails on big corporate beer companies, but come on. This is an authentic Belgian restaurant, do you really need to sell Stella and Blue Moon?
Anyway, they had a solid list of bottled beers separated by categories. Nothing earth shattering, some Cantillons and a couple vintages of Gouden Carolus, but your typical belgian ales that come to mind. I had a Palm Amber on tap to start (meh) and then a Belgian brown ale that i can't remember the name of, but fairly solid. I was little disappointed that they poured this brown ale into a Becks pilsner glass, but oh well.
The food on the other hand was phenomenal. I had the rabbit roulade with roasted root vegetables. Presentation was fantastic and food was great, one of the better meals i've had in a while. Everyone i was with enjoyed their meals as well. Had the Belgian waffle for dessert to share and was equally delicious.
All in all, a solid place. Food was excellent, would definitely go back for that. Beer was overall pretty disappointing. Maybe because it was Belgian Food week and they were trying to cater to the general audience. But that tap list they had was very disappointing. The bottle list, while solid, was nothing to write home about. In addition, despite having a number of chalices and appropriate drinkware, apparently they decided to pour my brown ale into a Becks pilsner glass. Go for the food, not the beer.
07-18-2011 14:30:51 |
More by bum732
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$
Belga Cafe is a definitely a good all around Belgian restaurant - with your standard mussels, frites, meats and gratin. Where it misses a bit is great service that can walk you through the menus - drinks and food.
We sat inside and enjoyed a mild buzz in the atmosphere. Restaurant is well lit, even without the table candles, but it is odd that there is a random apple sitting on the table. Everything seems to be of good quality, from the beers to the food - this isnt a place that cuts corners.
Service, as noted above, was fine, but really was the only thing that lacked to make this restaurant even better. Our servers weren't particularly knowledgeable, or really that friendly. Beer selection is solid, not just for Belgians, but for a slightly wider variety of beers. My wife loved the Brother Thelonious, and I grabbed some of the Belgians i cant usually find at Total Wine - which isnt easy.
Food was good, but not great. Mussels and Frites were the highlight, with the steak frite and fish merely average. I had a good short rib, but expected something a little more flavorful. Portions were just about right for the style of food.
06-29-2011 20:29:25 |
More by Jesstyr
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5 | $$$$
Atmosphere- With a modern European decor and a tight floorplan, the proprietor definitely hit his/her mark with setting the backdrop for this Belgian brasserie. Upon our visit, the place was teeming with patrons from noon-onward. And while quite a few patrons were there for the beer, many more were there just for the exquisite food and ambiance. From streetside, this place seems to be nothing special, but step inside and it is instantly higher-class.
Quality- Everything, absolutely everything about this place screamed high-quality. From the aesthetics of the decor, to the immaculate cleanliness, to the absence of macro-brews, to the presentation of the food, to the insane array of beer-appropriate glassware... This place was clearly run by quality-oriented staff, and it shows everywhere you look.
Service- Unfortunately, we did not make a reservation (which we will definitely do next time). However, we were fortunate enough to get seats at the bar, where full service was also rendered. In between making drinks, the bartender did a good job of fulfilling our food orders. She had a basic knowledge of the beer she was serving, and she was very friendly.
Selection- Nearly the entire beer menu is Beigian-themed... and it does a very good job of covering the bases. All the Trappists (excepting Westvleteren), lambics, flemish ales, trippels, strong goldens, dubbels, blondes, you name it; and the beers that they chose to stock were all classic or high-quality examples of each style. The always have Rodenbach on draft, and in the case of our visit, they had Rodenbach Vintage 2007 on draft... amazing!
Food- The food here is just exquisite. Small portions for a high price, but they make up for it with presentation and quality. The Leige waffles I had with caramelized apples were arguably better than those I have had in Belgium!
Final Notes: This place is expensive, but worth it... I can't wait to go back. And I highly recommend reservations.
02-27-2011 13:37:19 |
More by jgasparine
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5 | $$$
Situated in the Eastern Market. This place is extremely small so definitely make reservations if you plan on eating there. The food is goumet along with the prices. Excellent pairing of food choices with beer. Also a very nice wine list. Everyone loved it. Plenty of beer choices with matching glasses - 95% Belgian beers obviously. Very expensive. No rare or gem beers here. I'd much rather buy the Belgians from the beer store and drink among friends at home or go across the street to Match Box for more affordable beers (I personally do not justify shelling out big money on beers I can easily get on my own - I'll pay a pretty penny if it is a rare beer). Service was just okay. The bartenders always seem a bit standoffish.
02-18-2011 21:25:09 |
More by CuriousMonk
District of Columbia
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$$
Nice Belgium inspired spot in Capitol Hill. It´s a bit tacky-old school but with enough of a modern sense not to make it outdated.
Beer selection pivoting on Belgium offerings is solid and rich. While the tap is commonly forgettable, although on occasion there might be something worth it, the menu covers all the classics and Belgium styles with dexterity, in fact it even includes some recent US variations, as well as hybrids. Also the wine and cocktail selection seemed rather sturdy.
Albeit a touch pricey, but not too pricey for its context, the menu is worth it, again with a Belgium sense the is quite contemporary covering some Belgium classics rather well, such as mussels, but also going well beyond the most typical Belgium fare.
Staff was correct and professional, and all in all it is quite a worthy visit in the neighborhood.
07-05-2010 20:25:20 |
More by Daniellobo
District of Columbia
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5 | $$$
Excellent restaurant! It's definitely small and very cozy.. it's perfect for a date on a brisk fall day, or on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Decor is simple, and a bit country and modern at the same time. Lots of candles really add to the ambiance. Also, they have a good number of outside tables for dining/drinking in warmer weather. The beer selection is really great.. pages and pages of Belgian brews. It took me quite some time to decide. Had an excellent house beer from them which was a jasmine-white. Tried it at 'Brew at the Zoo' at the Belga Cafe booth, but I haven't seen it since. Food is really good too - I recommend the mussels!
03-24-2010 01:55:08 |
More by alysmith4
District of Columbia
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5 | $$$
Attended a dinner of three courses paired with various beers for the U.S. re-launch of Straffe Hendrik, with brewer Xavier Vanneste in attendance. Appetizer of cheese croquettes and beer soup paired with Straffe Kendrik, Braised pork paired with Gouden Carolus Classic, and various chocolates paired with St Louid Framboise. Nice ambiance though a bit loud. Friendly and efficient staff, but only a few know the beers well. Well chosen selection of Belgian-only beers, nicely kept and usually well served. The real treat is the food - wonderful, and not too expensive by DC standards. Worth going out of your way for.
10-31-2009 23:46:16 |
More by Travlr
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5 | $$$
So expect to pay a bit for your meal/drinks but this is D.C. so get used to it. The atmosphere is actually quite nice for a moderately fancy restaurant. Nice dining area and even a small bar.
The beer selection was the best I found while I was in D.C., though obviously all Belgians (or Belgian styles). They had Rodenbach on tap that day so I jumped right on that, followed by Cuvee Rene Gueuze, which is the best Lindeman's beer. I would guess they have at least 40+ bottles to choose from. They even have some very interesting sounding beer cocktails.
Our waitress was very helpful and even introduced me to the chef and the owner before I left. Both of these guys were extremely happy to hear I had a good experience and even offered to split a special beer with my but the rest of my party was ready to leave.
So this may have been the best food I have ever had at a restaurant. We had mussels steamed in Rodenbach to start and I followed this with an excellently prepared lamb. In fact, it was definitely the best lamb I have ever had and the mussels/frites reminded me of being in Bruges. I tried everybody else's dish also (pork tenderloin, rock fish, and something else) and it was all fantastic.
Assuming I can afford it again, I will definitely be coming back to this place. I may even try to contact them ahead of time and see if the owner wants to sit down for that beer.
12-17-2008 20:47:48 |
More by Big78CJ
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Belga Café in Washington, DC