Brasserie is a term in Belgium meaning gathering place, where friends enjoy sipping beers, wine and cocktails and share lovely foods with a French-Flemish flair. Welcome to Brasserie Belge, Sarasota’s only authentic Belgian restaurant. Forget about the beer hall that closed at the other end of Main Street; this Brasserie is the real deal, from mussels with frites and lobster croquettes to authentic Belgian chocolate mousse.
Located next to Mediterraneo (on the corner of 301 and Main Street), this new spot is destined to be a favorite of Sarasota’s culinary fans. In fact, I had three e-mails from readers suggesting I try this authentic eatery and I owe them a big thank you indeed. Formerly the space of Buddha Belly Donuts, this new business is all that it promises to be. The space is beautiful, with black and white photography and warm colors that accent the soft lighting (thankfully not too dark to read the menu) and incredibly comfortable European chairs.
As I snuggled into the banquette in the inner dining room, I immediately felt relaxed and ready for a feast of authentic cuisine. For those looking at a dining destination where you can actually hear your dinner conversation, BB is for you. There is outdoor seating, tables by the bar and the posh main dining room. All comfortable spaces.
Delicious lobster croquettes.
Steaming mussel pots.
We began our journey to Belgium with foie gras tourchon and an order of lobster croquettes. The foie gras was a perfectly prepared appetizer, creamy and smooth, accompanied by housemade marmalade and caramelized onion. The lobster croquettes, a nice Florida version, were the table’s favorite— creamy and utterly delightful. Of course there are the mussels, and Brasserie Belge delivers. Again, a table favorite was the Provencal, our most gracious Belgian server teaching us the true way to eat the mussels with the shells as chopsticks. And yes, there are those famous homemade fries. We tried all three dipping aolis, the classic our favorite. Unfortunately, we were overextended in our belt buckles and could not fit in dessert, but the owner shared a delightful apple liquor before we said farewells.
Brasserie is open 7 a.m.-1 a.m. Monday through Friday and dinner only Saturday and Sunday. Trust me; this is a good bet, and prices are moderate with fine dining service. An after-the-theater or opera stop for a coffee and dessert or Belgium beer and burger will be a welcome addition for later dining options.
Even the wine glasses are uptown.
I’ll be back next week to let you know how the desserts are, and of course how the Belgian waffle for breakfast is.