249 East 75th St
City: New York, NY
Phone: (212) 249-3300
Site: Visit the restaurant site
Area: East 70s
Entree Price: $15-$25
Sometimes you wander into an unassuming restaurant on a side street because you never noticed it before and are intrigued. When I first visited B. Café it was for precisely this reason, but soon I realized it’s a neatly kept secret tucked away from the obvious crowds for good reason. The slightly below ground-level restaurant is dark and a bit cramped, but the intimacy only adds to its charm and perpetuates an atmosphere of a neighborhood place you’re lucky to know about.
Entering the space, I immediately noticed the generous range of Belgian beers offered here. Not only do they have the archetypal Leffe and Tripel Karmeliet on tap, but they also have an impressive list of abbey ales, specialty beers, and a variety of lambics, including the less typical peach and apple. Beer prices range from $7-9 for drafts and up to $14 for Rochefort 10 (as any beer connoisseur knows, you get what you pay for).
Settled in at the cozy bar with a Leffe Blonde in hand, I turned to the food. B. Café’s menu offers the expected Belgian comfort food like moules frites, with your choice of 5 sauces for $22. There are also both “light fare” (at $18) and “big plates,” ranging from $17 for a vegetarian pasta to $26 for Berkshire pig. Other dishes include two traditional Belgian stews, one made from beef and the other chicken ($21 and $18), sure to fill you up and leave you with a warm satisfaction, and several different types of seafood, like seared scallops ($25) and grilled tuna accompanied by a special ginger ketchup ($26). All of these dishes are prepared carefully and your server or gracious bartender will be glad to explain their Belgian roots.
I wasn’t in the mood for a huge meal, so I chose the club sandwich from the “light fare” menu. My perfectly roasted duck shared the bread with gruyere cheese, bacon, and a fried egg. The flavors melded succulently together to form one delicious bite after another. The big surprise, though, was the dish came with both salad and fries, and the platter itself was huge. So keep in mind when ordering “light fare” that in Belgium, that means you’ll still end up completely satisfied.
I’d recommend B. Café to anyone who wants an authentic Belgian experience without any pretense. Diners have the option of eating at the bar, in the small dining room, or even in the back garden, but if you want to eat in the dining room for dinner, you should get a reservation. B. Café isn’t as hidden as it may seem, and the restaurant fills up quickly, especially on weekends.
Review By: Chelsee Pengal