Sunday, April 6, 2008

No Longer Stoemped for Brunch Ideas

I’ve been fortunately to have some really good brunch experiences since my adventures as Miss Menu began, but after the brunch I had on Saturday, these all pale in comparison. A friend wanted to take me out for my birthday (I think I stretched the celebrations out to almost 2 weeks this year!), so we decided on going to brunch. Of course, it was up to me to decide where we would be dining. I knew exactly where I wanted to go, somewhere I had had in mind since I moved into my current apartment 3 years ago...Petite Abeille.

There are a few Petite Abeille locations around the city, but because it was such a nice day out, we decided to walk to the one near Stuy Town. I don’t know much about Belgian cuisine, aside from waffles and fries. So, I was looking forward to seeing what else we were in store for.

I was expecting the restaurant to be pretty crowded, but we were seated right away at a great table in the back. Waters and a basket with pieces of fresh baguette were brought out to the table seconds later. While first glancing over the brunch menu, it became apparent that a big decision had to be made…order one of the many omelette/egg dishes, or go with a more traditional Belgian waffle. These waffles come with all sorts of toppings…ice cream, strawberries, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, the combos go on and on. While these sound absolutely delicious, I wasn’t sure I could stomach all that sweetness so early in the day. So, we came up with the perfect solution…we each ordered an omelette and we ordered one plain waffle to split as dessert. Genius.

I noticed that almost all of the omelettes had pork in them, but the waiter had no problem with us making substitutions. I ordered the Ardennaise, which came with bacon, mushroom, spinach and onion. I asked if I could substitute gruyere for the bacon, and it was no problem. My friend thought that sounded like a good idea and ordered the same thing (but with egg whites).

I was expecting to see Belgian frites served on the side, but the menu mentioned that the egg dishes were served with a small mesclun salad and stoemp. I had NO clue what that was, but imagined it would be something potato-related, since that seems like a common side brunch item. When our food arrived, I saw what I assumed was the stoemp…a big orange pile of something that resembled mashed potatoes. After one bite, we quickly realized that not only was it a Belgian version of mashed potatoes, but more delicious than any mashed potatoes I had had before. After a little Wikipedia research, I learned that stoemp is dish local to the cuisines of Belgium and the Netherlands. It consists of pureed or mashed potatoes and other root vegetables. Since what we had was pretty bright orange, I’m guessing that that carrots or sweet potatoes were included also.

The omelettes themselves were definitely worth mentioning too. The eggs were cooked perfectly, and there were ample veggies inside, all creating a fantastic taste. The gruyere inside and sprinkled on top gave it a great salty flavor as well. My friend even made the comment that she eats omelettes once or twice each weekend, and this was the best one she’d had in recent memory. Even better than the ones we had at Les Halles, and so much better than the overcooked/burnt ones we’ve had at diners recently. I couldn’t agree more.

To round out a fantastic meal, we dug into the waffle. It was golden brown, light, and fluffy. I rarely order waffles, so it was a real treat, and definitely the perfect “dessert” ending to a great meal.

The decor inside Petite Abeille feels like a quaint Belgian kitchen. Blue and white-checkered tablecloths and Belgian sea salt bottles are found on the tables. Belgian beer bottles line the shelves that circle the space. And, even though they have real menus, the dishes are also written on chalkboards that are scattered throughout the restaurant. All in all, it was a fantastic brunch. The food was delicious and the atmosphere made us feel like we were really dining in a Belgian café on a beautiful spring day!


Petite Abeille
401 East 20th Street
@ 1st Avenue
website
Menu Pages listing

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