Moules, Frites and Beer

 Belguim Restaurant Week starts today in New York City.  Cheapeats got a sneak preview of Belgium’s tasty dishes at BXL East.

BXL East is a warm and casual cafe on East 51st Street that is reminiscent of a classic pub. Long wooden  bar, wooden tables, chairs and floor that are slightly worn. great artwork,  TV’s  displaying the news and the latest games. But most of all,  happy faces. I was honored to be asked to dine here by Liliane Opsomer – Deputy Director of the Tourist Office for Flanders, Belguim. One of the perks of the job. I’ve been to Belgium, so I was very excited to relive that experience again.

When I arrived at BXL, I was immediately greeted by a smile and a welcome. Good sign. I saw a woman waving at me from the bar and knew that was Liliane. We exchange a warm hello and immediately settle in. “Belgium is known for beer, so you must try one.” I’m not really a beer drinker, but when in Rome…… The knowledgeable bartender asked me what I normally drink. I’m simple…Wine. “Red or White?” “Red.” “Merlot, Cabernet, Pinot Noir?” “Cabernet.” He gets that I like a full bodied wine and immediately makes a recommendation that I’m sure to like. I taste a sample….ding, ding, ding…we have a winner. I wish I could remember the name of it, unfortunately I don’t. Bad girl. It was a full bodied ale with little carbonation. Perfect, now I’m ready for lunch.

Soon we’re met by the General Manager – Klaas Claes.  Good food, good beer and a handsome European man….tough day at the office. Of course I order Moules & Frites, but take Klaas’ recommendation and try the Moules Grand Mere. With the smells coming from the kitchen, I can hardly wait.

Soon a pot is placed in front  of me containing 2lbs of mussels dressed in a sauce of cream, bacon and onions. SINFUL. I don’t know how I’m going to eat this daintly but I’m going in. Plump and  juicy morsels in this rich sauce that is savory with a hint of brandy/cognac, not sure.  So decadent, so tasty and SO MUCH. No matter how much I was eating, the pot stayed full. Every Italian knows the best part of the meal is dunking your bread in sauce.  So instead of dipping my frites in their traditional mayo, mine were soaking in that amazing sauce. Mmmm, my mouth is watering  just thinking about  it.

As much as I loved this meal, I just couldn’t finish it. (Note to self, share this with someone) With no room for dessert, we enjoy an espresso and friendly conversation. When the check arrives, Klaas grabs it and thanks us for being his guests.  Handsome and charming? Sigh.

I urge you to break out of your comfort zone and experience the cuisine of Belgium during Belgium Restaurant Week with BXL East being on the top of your list.

Thank you Liliane, Klaas, Chef and the entire staff at BXL East for an enjoyable and rememberable lunch. I will be back….there is a Pot Au Chocolate with my name on it.

Happiness, $25 and under.

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About The Author

A fierce love of food and twin careers in real estate and fashion taught Rose to look for the hottest item and the hottest deal. Perfect attributes for creating When friends and clients needed a great meal at a great price, she could rattle off restaurant names the way a sports nut ticks off batting averages—but with a lot more home runs. Now it’s all at Cheapeats, where you’ll find “Happiness, $25 and under.”


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