Belgium is famous for a few things, chocolate and strong beer being the two most relevant to me. My parents had told me about this Belgian beer cafe in downtown Brisbane and I’d been meaning to get down there and sample their wares.
My brother’s birthday was as good an excuse….oops, occasion, as any. We made reservations for the evening, although on a Monday we though that probably wasn’t necessary. It’s located on the corner of Edward and Mary Streets in one of those former government buildings that are all becoming heritage listed these days.
Inside, it’s very nicely done out. Lots of wood, plenty of booths, knicks-knacks and old crap on the walls, and a very nice (undercover) beer garden out the back. That night it looked to be very popular with blokes in suits, sucking down a few beers while talking shop.
The beer menu came on a separate chart and each one had a photo and a descriptioon of its qualities. There was a decent range of beers to try, but limited varieties on tap and although the website says they offer 30 beers, I don’t think I saw that many on the menu. And 30 isn’t that many when you consider the more than 1500 on this page. Bring a designated driver though, the minimum alcohol content was about 5.5%.
The food menu offered enough choices, but not enough to overwhelm. I don’t recall many Veggie options, but since I’m not, I don’t care. My brother (and brother-in-law) had the gourmet sausages and they looked and tasted great. Dad had the pork eye fillet and no one could get a taste out of him so it must have been good too. My dish was the chicken and it was a dud – tasteless, bland, boring.
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The ladies shared two pots of mussels between them and these are definitely the go. Heaps of mussels for about $20 and you can choose from a variety of sauces for them to be steamed in. The Congo sauce was the pick of the two we had.
We tried a small selection of the beers (school night, after all). The ladies started off with the standard Stella Artois while I kicked off with a Hoegaarden. Later on, my bro-in-law tried a Duval and Dad had a beer called Kwak which was drunk from a very curious glass. Wouldn’t want to try putting it back in the rack after a 6-pack of Kwak. My second beer was a dud, just like my food. It was a cherry Framboise beer which I didn’t realise, even after reading the description and then seeing the cherries on the label.
The beer café has only been open for a few weeks so I can understand that things will not be perfect. It was also busier than expected for a Monday night. The staff were friendly enough, but we waited a long time for our second beer orders to arrive, one of our meals was incorrect and they charged us for a beer we didn’t order (which they happily took off the bill once we’d noticed). We also arrived in two separate groups and, after checking our reservation, the host asked us if we’d like to wait in the bar for the rest of our party to arrive. As we walked towards the bar, we saw they had already arrived and we already waiting for us at a table. The host wasn’t too switched on and he readily admitted he’d made that mistake in the past which had caused two people to miss each other completely!
Overall, it was a good experience and would recommend it if you’re interested in trying some different beers. It’s pricey though, with beer starting at around $5 a glass, up to $26 for a 750ml bottle.