Belgian Cafe

Belgian dishes and excellent service at the Radisson Blu on Yas Island Discuss this article

Meal Deal
Friday brunch

Proper hearty breakfast-style grub is served at this laidback afternoon feast. It’s not pretentious and that’s exactly why we like it. Timings: 10am-3pm (Friday)

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We have heard good things about the Belgian Café brand and are excited to hear the newest one has opened near us on Yas Island in the Radisson Blu Hotel, so we strike it off our to-do list and pay it a visit.

The café appears kitsch – decorated in Belgian brasserie style with dark wood, mirrored glass table separators and chandeliers. The large restaurant is crowded and the small tables are tight, but not much to inspire claustrophobia.

We ask for non-smoking and are seated at the tiniest table they could possibly find in a remote corner. If we were coming here thirsty, we might call this spot perfect, but alas we are just hungry.

The menu is filled with the region’s comfort food. It reads of a mind-blowing variety of sauces, beef stews, fish ‘n’ chips and an array of pies. A mere perusal of the menu causes our arteries to harden ever so slightly, but we order anyway. Forget fasting and diets in this place, as nary a vegetable is on the menu other than one salad.

We start with the fried calamari and a Caesar salad to share. For mains, we order moules-frites (steamed mussels and hand cut fries), the dish the café is perhaps best known for, choosing the Thai red curry sauce for a spicy kick, and the fish ‘n’ chips.

The starters arrive in moments and our server attempts to place the ridiculously large serving plates on our tiny table. She puzzle-pieces them clumsily around our drinks and silverware in an arrangement that doesn’t quite work, but after she leaves we arrange it to better suit us.

The nicely presented fried calamari served on a dark wooden plank is light and crispy on the outside, and the fish is tender on the inside and far superior to anything we have had elsewhere in this town full of chewy squid. We make light work of it. The Caesar salad, on the other hand, is a goopy mess. There is more creamy dressing and cheese than lettuce, and we scrape as much off as possible to find anything remotely green. We salvage what we can before the tiny table is cleared.

With a good breather in between, the mains arrive. The fish ‘n’ chips is presented neatly but it’s nothing special and not likely to live long in the memory. Perhaps it’s the dory fish that they use (a small white local fish) that makes the dish lack flavour, but the texture is good. An enormous steaming pot is also made to fit on the table, along with thick-cut chips in a bowl. The large pot and its bowl of chips and accompanying mayonnaise take up almost the entire table between them.

The small mussels are of good quality, but the sparse allocation of red curry sauce is unremarkable, too little and not spicy enough. The mussels are topped with soggy, stewed onions, which bring little flavour to the dish and we spend more time in avoidance of them. It has to be said that the portion is enormous. Even a large serving of mussels can leave a diner peckish afterwards, but this serving was more than enough for two people.

We are not mayonnaise fans, but when in Belgium (in Abu Dhabi), we sample it. The home-made, vaguely tart mayonnaise complements the frites, and we are surprised to find ourselves dipping away as our arteries silently scream.

Again, it’s a relief when the enormous serving plates are cleared from our table. This dinner confirms something we did not know. The Belgians know their way around a deep-fryer. We did not know until afterwards that the Belgians invented chips some 130 years ago and have been perfecting them ever since. We are not convinced that the meal is great value, but the service is excellent and we leave full.

The bill (for two)
Calamari Dhs38
Caesar salad Dhs47
Fish ‘n’ Chips Dhs75
Thai curry mussels Dhs120
Total (excl. service) Dhs280

By Time Out Abu Dhabi staff
Time Out Abu Dhabi,

Time Out reviews restaurants anonymously and pays for meals. Of course, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or independence of user reviews.

Details

  • Location: Radisson Blu Hotel, Abu Dhabi Yas Island, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi
  • Tel: 02 656 2407
  • Travel: Abu Dhabi-Dubai Road

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