Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Little Belgian in Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach at Sunset in July
My parents live near one of the world's best beaches - Laguna Beach.  For several years, I didn't take advantage of it for a number of reasons.  I was there for Christmas.  The place kinda shuts down during the cold season, even though it's positively balmy compared to the East Coast.  Or I was visiting for only a few days, and everyone knows that when you only visit Mom & Dad for just a few days, every minute of every day shall be spent sitting at the table to eat Mom's home cooking with a face of rapture and plenty of "Mmm-ing," and to let them stare at you in wonderment that their long lost child has come home.

So imagine my chagrin when, after all these years, I actually spent a significant amount of time - all of 1 week - hanging loose in SoCal and being a bit of a beach bum, as much of a beach bum as a type-A business executive can be, that is, and discovered what I was missing.

Among the many decent stores, microbreweries and restaurants in the pristine beach town is Brussels Bistro.  It's modern with clean lines, decidedly more California than Belgium, but that's of little significance when one savors what it can offer so much more.

The beer list is impressive, and the servers are experts, and I mean it!  When someone can rap with Eric about beer and school him on a few things, the guy knows what he's talking about.

We were introduced to Kwak, and they have a special wooden beer holder for their beer.  The Leffe Blonde was refreshing and mildly sweet.  But you know, at a Belgian place, I expect that the beers will be stellar as long as they carry them in bottles.  And if the place is located in the middle of a popular beach town, I don't expect much from from the food.  I expect that it will be expensive and mediocre.  Surprisingly, though, the food was very good, albeit quite expensive.  I got the pot of mussels in the curry sauce.  I couldn't believe how huge and succulent the mussels, the quantity served, and how divine the sauce.  As someone who watches her intake of carbs, that curry nectar was so sumptuous that my intake of bread increased 4-fold to sop up that gold liquid.

The Steak Frites was excellent, as was the decadent gourmet Mac & Cheese.  Holy moly that was good and I had more than just a neighborly taste of my friend's dish.

This is one place that I will be sure to revisit on my next trip home.

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