Name: Belgian Beer Cafe Oostende
Address: 265 – 276 Ebenezer Place, Rundle Street, Adelaide SA 5000
Phone: (08) 8359 3400
Open: Restaurant: Sun – Thu 12 till 3pm, 6pm till 10pm. Fri – Sat 12 till 3pm, 6 till 11pm.
Sunday evening in Adelaide two days after Christmas is probably the worst night of the year to try and book a table for dinner. The amount of restaurants open and the number of willing punters wishing to dine out seems sadly disproportionate. After much searching we rested on the Belgian Beer Cafe Oostende. This venue used to be Charlick’s Feed Store of Maggie Beer fame, Beer was the focus then and it still is today. Upon arrival we indulge in a selection of Certified Trappist Ale’s. Belgian Trappist Ale is serious beer that has significant warmth, perfect to rapidly build an appetite. The menu is extensive and could be more concise, the Belgian style Mussels or Moules dominate the starting pages so we go with the Moules Meuniere ($29.5). The Meuniere are the Belgian standard mussels steamed in white wine, butter and stock. The mix had loads of fresh herbs which added great aroma to the really salty liquid – I think ‘salty’ would have been ok but ‘really salty’ was definitely incorrect.
After a few ales there is an apparent need to provide small ballast to the rollicking. There are several Belgian themed options on the menu which could help, one of which is a Traditional Flemish Beef Stew, the Carbonade a` la Flamande`($25.9). Its tired contents included grainy mustard with cruelly treated beef in ‘claggy’ gravy. The wild mushrooms alongside were superb and took my mind off the completely unnecessary puff pastry lid of the “stew”.
The Pork Rib Eye ($28.9) was well received and the cut of pork satisfied both texture and taste. The very sweet beetroot and raspberry jus was a happy thought but out of balance. The cauliflower puree was consistent in texture but had no discernable truffle aroma. The beetroot and truffle could carry this dish to far more interesting conclusions with its earthiness and aroma, but they were present in name only.
My adjacent guest had the Roast Duck Shanks ($29.9). The accompanying sweet potato puree and the coriander and ginger glaze were not complimentary. Their sweetness like the Pork dish did not favour the richness of the duck legs.
The Waterzooi – Fruits de Mer ($26.9) is a Traditional Belgian Seafood Stew. It has cream added to a similar stock as the Moules Meuniere, it was far less salty and subsequently more balanced. The salmon portions and mussels provided plenty of texture contrast to small potatoes. It was free of head scratching moves of sweet sauces and silly pastry lids, just simple produce in fresh creamy bisque.
Themed restaurants are rarely held accountable for their culinary sins and fail dismally in the final countdown of value for money. Luckily for the Belgian Beer Cafe Oostende their restaurant trade seems merely a value adding process to the beer that really steals the show. The menu suggests a beer to have with each dish which is a worthy attempt at matching their product from the kitchen to the beer. If the Belgian Beer Cafe could create individual dishes with balance and character such as the recommended beers I am positive the food experience would be far more memorable. Until such time as things improve I will be adhering to a liquid diet at the Belgian Beer Cafe Oostende.
More reviews and stuff at “thesculleryblog.blogspot.com” by Giles Matthews