We've been anticipating our first trip to the Belga Cafe. They are right around the corner from our apartment and eagerly read the rapturous reviews ABOUT THE FOOD. Our first encounter with said restaurant was when the very nice owner dropped a polite note on our doorstep, asking if he could tie up the alley that his restaurant shares with our apartment. Said note included a free dinner for two at the Belga Cafe. We had high hopes for the place given the world class chef and the politeness of compensating us for the use of an alley we don't use.
So we decided to take our friend (who is hard of hearing) to the Belga Cafe for a late brunch on Saturday. And boy is that restaurant LOUD. Not Cafe Asia loud, but loud enough that we had to concentrate to hear each other. While we were seated promtly and our orders were taken fairly quickly, it took a while for the waitress to actually give us something. Like water, or bread. We continually had to ask for everything. And speaking of water, since none of us felt like breaking the bank with this meal, we all ordered water as our beverage. The server asked us whether we wanted sparkling or still and we said still. This is key to the absolute horribleness of our service. While I am never into service where the server sits down with you and tells you their life story, our server was brusque even by my standards. We had to ask another, much nicer server to get us things like water and bread.
The true joy as a foodie about being in a relationship is being able to split your entree with your partner. As J and I could not decide between a sweet or savory brunch dish, he got the sweet (Belgian waffle with caramelized apples) and I got the savory (smoked salmon in wafflized puff pastry) which we split and we both got orders of fries and mayo. Our friend got the sea bass with melted spinach. The food was uniformly wonderful. I was truly delighted with both of our dishes and agree with our friend that the fish and spinach was perfectly prepared but a bit underseasoned. The puff pastry salmon came with a simple and yummy mesclun salad with a divine vinaigrette and a somewhat incongruous helping of Asian greens with sesame. And yes, the fries were incredible. Definitely best in class.
Unfortunately, service was really lacking. As mentioned before, we thought the Chilean sea bass only needed a spritz of lemon to be a true memorymaker. So we asked for a slice to acheive cuinary perfection. And we asked. And asked. And asked. It took 15 minutes for the lemon. While the place was full, it was not completely packed, the way we've seen it on a Friday or Saturday night.
The sad-ass ending to our meal was discovering that our flat, DC-tap-tasting water was going to set us back $11. While it was an honest mistake, and we were willing to pay for it, when we mentioned to the brusque server that maybe they could be a little clear when someone would be spending as much on WATER as we would spend on a lifechanging dessert at 2 Amys, she told us that we should have specified TAP. I was seriously ready to get some steeled toed boots and do some tap on a certain pissy server's head. Seriously, in all of my experience dining in some pretty nice restaurants, water was water - no charge. If you wanted bottled water that you PAY for, you specified it.
Luckily, a diner next to us affirmed that we weren't crazy and said he was a friend of the owner and would have a word with him about it. But really folks - WATER.