Dec 28, 2006

Bistro Belgique Gourmande Under New Management

I’ve enjoyed several meals and even more Belgian imports at Bistro Belgique Gourmande in Occoquan, VA over the past couple of years. The original owners were a great older couple from Belgium that new how to make you feel welcome, as if you were sitting down to their own kitchen table for a warm meal, a strong beer, and a few stories. During those earlier visits however, the only way you could enjoy the beer was to have a bottle or two on premises.

That all changed with the first shift in management. The original owners had retired and sold the restaurant. The quality of the food was never the same. It was never poor, but the atmosphere and family feel had been lost and I think that affected the overall appeal of the small eatery. A benefit of the new management, however, was the new ABC-off license that allowed me the opportunity to splurge and pick up some really good beers on the way home — and enjoy them at home. I got spoiled, of course. It was expensive, but I knew that if Total Wine didn’t have what I was in the mood for, Belgique would.

The Saison Dupont Tease

Last week, in an attempt to do some last minute Christmas shopping, I decided to take the round about way home after work and try and find something additional for the wife. I decided to hit a jeweler in Occoquan, knowing that if I couldn’t find something nice for her, I could at least pick up a few Belgians for us both to enjoy as a consolation.

Of course, the jeweler was packed with other husbands trying to save their asses before the holiday arrived. And, as I predicted, I struck out on that front. No worries, though, Belgique was next. I happily crossed the street, into the alley toward the front door of the restaurant. I was itching to see what they had in store for me. One of the great things about the setup of the initial room of the place is that once you open that door the very first thing you see is the beer cooler — no hostess, no Maitre D’, just the glorious site of beer.

The selection looked thin, but they did have a few bottles of Saison Dupont and a few others that I was nearly aching for. I started to open up the cooler door to pull out my selections, when a gentleman I hadn’t seen in the place before asked if I wanted a table. I politely declined and informed him that I was here simply for the beer.

“Oh,” he says. “We don’t have that. That license takes too long to get, so I applied for the quickest one.”

Shell Shocked and Empty Handed

Mouth agape, I’m sure I muttered something incomprehensible to the man about just wanting the Saison Dupont — it’s nearly impossible to find any where else in my area. I was crushed. Utterly defeated. I had no additional bauble for the wife, nor any consolation brews to sooth the pain. Defeated, I meandered back to the truck and drove the nearly 40 miles home.

I’m not sure if I will ever recover, but felt compelled to inform you out there that Bistro Belgique Gourmande is, in fact, under new ownership and no, they don’t allow you to purchase beer for off-premise consumption. Damn.