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beer and food Belgium

Restobieres: "No beer for you!"

duvelsign.jpgRestobieres has a nice website, which I spent a bit of time looking at before we set off for lunch yesterday. The menu looked simple and — most importantly — we’d heard that the beer was decent.

The website advertised something described in English as “The Set Beer Menu”, which I tried to order from the French menu. The website says it’s four beers: Bink blonde, Witkap Stimulo, Lamoral degmont and “Trappiste”, for 15 euros.

But my French is appalling, and the owner — an, er, colourful chap called Alain Fayt — reminded me somewhat of the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld. The whole thing was, therefore, a bit of a disaster.

After I’d placed the order, there was some grumpy dialogue which I didn’t follow, and off he went. Sometime later, my first beer arrived. There was a lecture in French on its origins, which I just about followed. But it wasn’t Bink Blonde — it was Watou Wit. Confusing. But fine — I drank it. It went really well with my pate, both bringing out interesting flavours in the other. So far so good.

A long while later, when I’d nearly finished my second course, Alain returned. He collected my glass and gave me what you might call “the stink eye”.

He returned with a bottle of something else. I say “something else” because he poured me a splash into a glass and walked off, very quickly, with the bottle. “Hmm,” I said. “That’s interesting. It’s not one of the beers on the list, and I’ve only got about 100ml of it.” It was very nice, whatever it was.

Things reached a head with the third beer — Caracole’s Nostradamus. Not on the menu. He poured me a splash but this time left the bottle. Being thirsty at this point, I proceded to finish it. Oh dear.

He returned looking like I’d insulted his family. “You must not drink it all. This is a degustation — tasting!”

“Oh, sorry,” I said, Englishly. I went red and felt guilty, as if it was entirely my fault. He slammed down a splash of another beer (again, no idea what, but a stout of some sort) and said, slightly more warmly, “It’s OK.” And that was that. No more beer for me.

So, yes, it’s an interesting place, with great beer, and decent food, but don’t go here expecting to be mollycoddled… and read the menu carefully.

Bailey

Apologies for the irrelevant image. I was too scared to use my camera in the restaurant…

7 replies on “Restobieres: "No beer for you!"”

I’d add by way of a PS;

Very interesting selection of beer; about 15 on the menu, which were all from relatively small breweries. Plus a load more in the fridge. Hence not being able to identify the two Bailey had. One may have been called something like “Abelard’s”, the other was a stout with a blue label and some kind of gold pattern on it (corn? sunrise? We only had half a second to look at it). It had stout in the title. If anyone can help us track these down, we’d be very grateful as they were great!

I’d also say that it’s reasonable value for money – 30E each for 3 courses and “some” beer still works out better than a lot of places in London.

But I find it hard to reconcile the glowing reviews (in English), particularly talking about how helpful and friendly the owner is, with what we experienced. We weren’t the only ones either – other people looked bewildered or even appalled.

I don’t think reading the menu carefully would have made any difference. Who knows where we committed our first faux pas?

ha! i knew it 🙂
you’ll have to read my review of this place over on http://www.onfoodandwine.com – i simply didn’t like the attitude of ‘on/ off’, ‘hot/cold’ . he does that whole bring the ‘mystery’ bottle and gives you shot. some are gueze, others frankly are very ‘common’ beers for general Belgian consumption, he just sells them off as ‘whey hey so interesting and off the beaten track’. phlease 🙂
i’ll try to see if i can identify the beers you tried ‘in secret’. he gave us a tasting glass of another caracole, the forestiere. beers no. 152 to 154 were all drank/ photographed in restobieres.

I visited Restobieres last night (20 November 2008) with two friends and had a great night. We had started our evening in Het Warm Water for some draft Girardin Kriek which was delicious. We were the first diners in Restobieres and were made to feel most welcome. I opened in my schoolboy French, but Alain spoke to us in English. He was enthusiastic about his food and the beers he had matched to it. He also seemed delighted that we had ordered a Geuze.

Service was really friendly; food was delicious and the atmosphere delightful. Perhaps Bailey picked the night the owner’s cat had died or something, because last night it was as a good a night out as one could hope for.

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