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For a Piece of Belgium in Garden City: “Waterzooi”



Waterzooi Belgian Bistro might not roll off your tongue so easily but their food surely will. It is on a quaint main street in the heart of Garden City, Long Island. I have known about it for quite some time as I went to college in the area. That has been longer than I like to think about. Oddly enough when I was only a few blocks away I never knew much about it except that they made great drinks for happy hours and as acted as a late night lounge. I never did make it back then college students have such different priorities.




Ironically over the last two years it has become something I am actively seeking out. It all started when I made my to do list for 2014, and it followed me on to this year’s to do list as well (see the previous post). I don’t know why I didn’t pursue it more actively as I am on the Island often visiting family. I suppose it was so close that I always thought I would get to it and instead over planned days took over pushing it to the back burner. Alas I could not let this continue. As of this past week the streak was over. I had my first meal there.

Until now I had not bothered to learn what the name of the restaurant meant. I found out that it is named for a dish that contains stew with fish and now more commonly with chicken. Quite frankly I didn’t look for it on the menu. I was immediately engulfed with the many other items I had to choose from.

My main reason for coming to this restaurant was the fondue. I had a read an article in a local periodical in 2014 that listed the best places to have fondue in the area. I recognized the name and knew it was in the realm of possibility that I could get there sooner than later. It was only on my to do list for two years and I think that’s pretty good, especially when you consider my latest list has only be out since the beginning of this month. I am giving myself a pat on the back for taking the ball and running with it.

So while I was reviewing the menu on that afternoon I was looking for two things. First I wanted to find the fondue section to pick on what looked good. Secondly I wanted to find a meal that would be a specialty that I could share with my companion that would be filling without overdoing it, if there was such a thing.



I was happy to discover that fondue was listed under the appetizers. Problem number one solved! I admit there was more than one other starter I would have loved to have bitten into.

So we started with fondue, which consisted of Farmhouse Ale, Bouda, and Gruyère cheeses served with a side of apples, grapes, and plenty of baguettes. It was perfect! It had a strong bite to it without being too much to handle. I continued to eat the fondue even after the sides were done. I am not ashamed to say I took the bread from the table and dipped it in the cheese. I think I want a pot of that near me at all times so I can dip whatever I feel like it in it whenever I have an urge.


 
Before I knew it I was making room for my entrée, the sirloin sandwich with caramelized onions, melted Gouda cheese served on a garlic baguette with a side of frites. Another success story I am happy to say. My only critique of this dish would be that the steak was a little too chewy for me. I think I would have rather had it in larger or smaller cuts. I felt like the meat should have been more tender. When you have had similar dishes before you always tend to compare and I have had better cuts of steaks in my sandwiches. My expectations could have been somewhat too high. Overall I feel like it hit the spot and I certainly didn’t leave a morsel on my plate.

The next time I visit Waterzooi (yes there will definitely be a next time) I am starting with the French onion soup, continuing on to the Montrachet mussels (which is their specialty) served with white wine, goat cheese, and roasted red peppers. I will finish with an authentic Belgian waffle topped with whip cream and fruit as my dessert. Sounds good doesn’t it?

In my fair city there is no shortage of restaurants that also serve versions of French and/or Belgium flavors. Since this is one of my top three favorite types of food I have hit up the best among the best. I have to say that Rue 57 is a must for anyone that can get into New York City. I have been there more than once and I am sure I will be back by the end of the year (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2012/05/for-great-meal-on-cue-rue-57.html). Literally everything they serve is amazing. You cannot order a bad dish here.

Another great stop, for steak and frites especially, would be Les Halles, a restaurant that was created and opened with chef/travel host Anthony Bourdain (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2011/04/for-keys-to-my-new-york-city-part-iii.html). There are now two locations in Manhattan and you can get a great deal if you go during the winter or summer restaurant weeks.

My number one favorite restaurant for French food in N.Y.C. is hands down, Artisanal (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2011/12/for-fabulous-french-food-artisanal.html). This bistro holds the record for the best fondue I have had in my life. With the exception that I hope to try some fondue the next time I am in Paris and I figure that might take the cake. Here the cheese is rich and comes by the pot full. There are so many varieties to choose from. They even have a cheese gift shop!! Cue the angels singing.

The last restaurant I want to tell you about is known for a version of a specialty food you have never seen before. I known you have more than likely tasted French onion soup and probably thought it was delicious. But you would be wrong. I loved the one at Artisanal but when you go to Stanton Social (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2012/04/for-french-onion-soup-dumplings-stanton.html) you can get the dumplings version! They are incredible. This is the most creative way to eat soup. If you wait a few minutes they will cool long enough for you to pop one in and banish it to the depths of your soul.

I have been to Waterzooi and back. I have returned with a new special spot in my old haunting grounds.

I left feeling full, satisfied, and happy to check this off my current to do list. So far 2015 is going swimmingly.

Hey James Lipton, I think when I arrive at the Pearly Gates in heaven I want God to ask me “what kind of cheese to you want in your bottomless pot”? I will start working on my reply.

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