Belgian food as avant-garde cuisine ?

They’re not mutually exclusive.  For the skeptics out there, it’s entirely possible and Chef Bart Vandaele’s B Too is proof.  The former “Top Chef “contestant’s restaurant along Washington, DC’s revitalized 14th Street corridor is Belgian dining at its most adventuresome.  As one would expect from this northern European country, the list of ales and beers is extensive, so much so in fact it’s the size and weight of a book.  It’s quite a surprise as one would not typically expect such a substantial variety in a restaurant of this intimate size.  But, it’s just one of many wonderful surprises in Vandaele’s gem of a restaurant.  The only way to start off such a meal is, of course, with Belgische frietjes, or Belgian fries, and B Too’s are excellent.  No one would fault you, even in public, for simply sticking your head in the basket containing the delicious and tender potatoes and using it as a feed bag.  They’re that good and are accompanied by the requisite mayonnaise.  The high standard was easily maintained with the rest of the food we enjoyed :

– B Too Kaas Creaties, or cheese plate
– B Too Mussels, with celery root, spring onions, shiitake mushrooms and thyme
– Eendenborst op Z’n Vel Gebakken, or duck breast with mushrooms and spring onions
– Le Steak Royale Belge, or 10oz filet with frites and salad
– Macaroni en Kaas, or baked mac and cheese with breadcrumbs
– Wafel van Kreeft, or waffle topped with lobster meat, tomato and arugula

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© David-Kevin Bryant

My go-to food when dining at a restaurant for the first time is usually duck since one either makes it well.  Or, one has a disaster on hand.  B Too’s easily fell into the former.

Service, both at the bar at the restaurant’s entrance and at the front of the house, was excellent.  Save room for coffee, too, especially if you’re a Pedro Almodóvar fan.  B Too’s coffee and espresso service features Illy’s limited edition cups with graphic designs from the Oscar-winning Spanish director’s films.

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© Illy

2 comments

  • Voted best line, especially for accuracy: “No one would fault you, even in public, for simply sticking your head in the basket containing the delicious and tender potatoes and using it as a feed bag.”

    Never heard truer words!

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