My friend Kin suggested we go to the Belgian Beer Cafe for Friday dinner as he had gone with his brother the previous week and the beer was really good. I said it sounded like a good idea.
The Belgian Beer Cafe is located on St Kilda road in the old precint that used to be the Institute of the blind my friend John told me when I told him I was going. My other friend Keiran also told me to drink the Leffe Blonde and Chimay beers since they were really good. Taking that advice on board, Kin and I headed to the cafe.
We first walk through a large double iron wrought gate and were greeted by the security guard. As we walked towards the building, we passed lots of noise and chatter amongst the throng of people sitting on the grass and standing in the courtyard. We finally make our way to the cafe and grab a table.
After ordering, our beers arrive, along with bread that is served interestingly in a brown paper bag. I get the Leffe Blonde to start whilst Kin gets the Belle Vue Kriek. My beer has a sweet taste to it and is quite nice. Kin's beer has a cherry aroma to it, and tastes a little like a red wine. Every type of beer is served in its own unique glass, which looks very good. The establishment must lose some money through the number of glasses that get broken. Throughout the night, I think I count about 8 smashed glasses.
Despite being a Belgian cafe, the menu looks very French to me. I'm not well educated in Belgian cuisine so many Belgian food is very much like French? Anyway, we order the Charcuterie for entrees. I always love Charcuterie as I have a thing for cured meats. This tasting plate did not do it for me though. There was about 4 types of meats, none of which really grabbed me. The sausage tasted like the frankfurts you can buy in the supermarket. The salami had that off flavour when you leave it too long after you break the seal. The proscuitto was good, and the smoked ham tasted ok.
Mains were much better. Kin's Cassoulet was delicious. The soft beans mixing with the duck and sausages.
My Steak Frites was very good as well. I loved the sauce, a celeriac remoulade. That was the best part of the dish. The sauce went so well with the steak and also the chargrilled asparagus. What wasn't so good was that I asked for my steak medium and it came so well done that there was no hint of pink anywhere. However, I was starving and didn't really want to wait to have another steak prepared, so ate that one.
After the meal, we went out into the beer garden and met up with Emmanuel and Con for some more beers. We tried the Chimay White, Stella Artois, Hoegaarden and more Leffe Blonde. The beers all start off tasting good, but since they are missing that slightly bitter taste at the end, they actually taste too sweet at the end. The Stella is probably the closest to other beers with a slight bitterness to it.
The ambience in there is very very loud. The high ceiling and floor boards are really conducive to echoes. You have to talk very loudly to be heard. This isn't that easy over a large table. I would prefer a slightly quieter place for a meal, but for drinks, it's a great atmosphere.
The service was good, although the waitress did forget that I wanted my steak medium and had to come back to ask again. Maybe she never noted that down because my steak was very well done.
Overall Rating: 13/20, A good place for a drink and some snacks rather than a meal due to it being a bit too noisy.
Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20: Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.