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You might best know him as a contestant on Season 10 of Top Chef Seattle, but nine years ago Chef Bart Vandaele transformed an old garage near a video store that was more XXX unmentionables than family-friendly into Belga Café, the District’s original Belgian restaurant. Walking down Barracks Row, one finds themselves bombarded with restaurant options, except for this slightly hidden gem found behind patio umbrellas and sandwiched between businesses each vying for the next passer-by. Belga Café, transports its guests the moment they walk through the door. From the classy tables and chairs, to the single exposed brick wall, the sparkling bar, semi-open kitchen, and the decorations, Vandaele’s creativity is full of character and his vision is as unique, as it is inviting.
Vandaele’s passion for Belga is in every aspect of the restaurant. Vandaele works alongside his team to curate the drink menu, and is the mastermind behind much of the interior design and structure. Maintaining that he has stayed true to himself and avoiding fads, his strong focus on the inter-connectivity between every person and function required of owning a restaurant has led to his successes and his recently opened B Too.
Vandaele infuses the love of his heritage directly into the food he creates. Embracing the typical flavors found on the streets of Brussels, including mussels, waffles, and frites, the chef also provides diners with the opportunity to explore and delve further into the more exotic flavors of his homeland.
Breaking away from the cliché Taco Tuesday, Vandaele chose to do something that fit his culinary heritage and introduced Mussel Tuesday. Guests can select any mussel pot for only $15.95 during this once-a-week treat. Choices include Mussels “Diabolique”, “Green”, “Marniere”, “Truffles en Prei”, and the “Hoegaarden” (pictured) among others. When visiting Belga one mustn’t forgo one of the many available waffle creations. The “Wafel Met Krab” (pictured); a crab stuffed waffle with mussels, green pea pure, lemon foam, and saffron sauce is a savory interpretation of a sweet breakfast. There is of course “The Belgium Tradition” found on the dessert menu: a vanilla waffle, warm bittersweet chocolate sauce, and vanilla ice cream for those sweet-waffle purists. The extensive beer list featuring Belga’s special beer cocktails as well as several popular Belgian brews ties the entire dining experience together.
Tomorrow, October 24 at 6:30pm, Belga Café is hosting a 9th Anniversary Wine Dinner in celebration. Guests will enjoy six courses and exceptional wine pairings for each. To make a reservation call 202-544-0100.