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Posts from the ‘Belgian’ Category


I’ve found a new contender for the most awesomely un-salady salad. Sripraphai’s crispy watercress salad is still tops but Resto’s crispy pig’s ear salad is a close second. Clearly, the secret to a good salad is the use of crispy ingredients.

Resto crispy pig's ear salad

I’m still not sure how something so suspect can taste so good. The sizable curls of fried ear almost outweigh the chicory leaves. The meat has much more chew than chicharrones, the closest thing I can compare the cut to, but still retains lots of crackle. White tarbeis beans are also distributed through the dish and everything is laced with a mustard-based dressing most likely herbed with chervil (the little fronds looks like parsley yet taste a little licoricey). The crowning glory is a soft-cooked egg.

I’m so sick of mix and match Financial District lunch salads I could cry. Even the cheapskate in me would order this $12 (oh, it’s $10 at lunch) number on a regular basis if it were available in the neighborhood.

Resto debal curry mussels

After my new favorite ear mélange and a bottle of Kasteel Donker, curry mussels were superfluous. I was just going for something relatively light and non-meaty. Never mind the French fries and mayonnaise. Those fries were very tasty, but abnormally heavy.

Resto tete de veau sandwich

James and I were going to share appetizers, but he was more into the tete de veau sandwich spiced with sriracha and I was obviously smitten with my salad. He actually preferred the head cheese on toast to the much lauded gruyere burger, his entree. I forgot to taste the burger so I’m not sure what to think.

Resto chocolate sampler

Dessert was a chocolate tasting, from left to right: cinnamon milk chocolate, Sichuan peppercorn dark chocolate and orange dark chocolate. Not purists, we chose all flavored bars, besides they were out of the hardcore 88% cacao anyway. I love Sichuan savory food but I’m not sure how I feel about the use of these crunchy pods in sweets. The metallic tingly effect is kind of overpowering, like licking aluminum foil. I could still feel it while waiting for the 6 train 20 minutes later.

I know that if you were reading a cooking blog and they were whipping up pig’s ears they would be sourced from a quaint farm where the animals are blissful or special ordered by their local butcher they’ve forged a trusting relationship with. And those ears, lovely as they might be, would set you back say, $30. And maybe that’s a small price to pay for quality ears. I don’t know.

Western beef pig ears

But I’m a grocery store girl so Saturday while at Western Beef, my favorite all-purpose supermarket, I browsed the walk-in meat cooler for ears. And of course I found them all frozen and scary looking, yet for a mere $2.39 a pound. I needed no convincing to put them in my cart.

It’s just cartilage, skin and fat. Do you think there is genuinely a marked difference between odd bits from a grocery store and a butcher? That would be one taste test that would be hard to recruit for. Well, I’m only out $3.87  if my pig’s ear cooking experiment goes south. I’ll crack open my copies of Nose to Tail Eating and The River Cottage Meat Book tonight

Resto * 111 E. 29th St., New York, NY


First off, I'm not a beer person. Not that I dislike it or anything, but I'm
certainly not an expert. I'm not sure if this Belgian place is more
restaurant or bar. Size-wise you'd think restaurant, but they're pretty
obsessive about their Trappist brews. During the 30 minute wait for a table
(which would lead you to believe food is the emphasis), I was able to pour
over one of their pamphlets, complete with glossary, categorization by
styles, and price list by country. It was all a bit overwhelming if you ask

When all was said and done, I tried a Rodenbach Flemish Sour Ale and
Boon Kreik, a bright red, sour cherry brew. I guess I must like tangy, red
beers since they were both in that vein. But I was there for the mussels and
fries, which were good even though there were a few duds in the bucket. A
smoked salmon appetizer with Boursin and a tart cucumber dill salad was
refreshing. It's a fun night spot, and one of the few places I found in town
to serve real food till 2am. (5/12//01)

This is the place for beer, mussels and fries. But apparently not the
place for brunch. I only say that because I'm not a terribly critical eater,
I don't love everything, but I rarely dislike anything either. With that
said, their eggs Benedictine totally disturbed me. They came on heel ends of
very hearty, crusty, peasanty bread that were impossible to cut through, so
logistically they're impossible to eat (I did see someone eating them out of
hand like a sandwich-the correct procedure?) and then the hollandaise was so
sour (vinegar? Lemon juice?) it was unpleasantly tangy. The spinach was
doing that grainy thing on the teeth it often does, but coupled with the
awkward presentation and too-tart sauce, I had no desire to finish my food.
And in a food city like Philly, there's no reason to fill-up on mediocrity.

Monk's Cafe * 264 S. 16th
St., Philadelphia, PA


Closed: so much for the late '90s Belgian trend

I don't have much to say about Belgo except that their website is nutty
in a way that only Europeans can pull off. When I was in London last
Thanksgiving, we were trying to find a place to eat and peeked in Belgo. It
sort of scared me and I ended up going to Chinatown as I often do in most
cities. I didn't even realize New York had a Belgo until I went to that
meaty Riodizio a while ago and noticed it next door (clearly, I don't walk
on Lafayette much). With its stylely, modular design, freaky guy on the
menu, and tunnel-like entrance, my curiosity was peaked.

I popped in for lunch after a job interview and figured I should have
mussels since that's what those Belgians are known for. There were all sorts
of varieties, including one with coconut milk and lemon grass, but I decided
against it since I prefer Asian-tinged food from Asian restaurants. I opted
for the lunch special, which at $14.95 wasn't much of a special, but you get
a kilo of mussels, frites, a house salad with arugula (I think, though
endive makes more sense), hard-boiled egg and tomato, and a glass of Stella
Artois, which was a hefty amount of food. They have a large menu devoted to
beers, but I've never been much of connoisseur. Mussels reign supreme, but
there are plenty of other entrees. Belgo is Belgo and it's worth checking
out at least once. (11/9/00)


Belgo * 415
Lafayette St., New York, NY