Short of eating outdoors at one of the multitudinous restaurants on the main square in Brussels, where mussels and fries ("moules frites") are the specialty, you can replicate the experience — minus the airfare — by dining at Brussels Bistro in Laguna Beach, the only authentic Belgian restaurant in our area serving this iconic dish. It even has al fresco dining.
Tucked away several steps below street level on Forest Avenue, this small and casual restaurant features five preparations of mussels plus the creative cooking of Chef Thomas Crijns riffing on Belgian cuisine. Of course, there is an extensive selection of beer, the national beverage of choice.
As you descend the stairs, you will find yourself on the outdoor patio, complete with fireplace and heaters for cozy dining. Inside, are brick walls lined with attractive beer plaques, brightly colored metal-topped tables and a casual, friendly atmosphere.
French speaking wait-staff add to the ambience. We had the pleasure of being served by the very handsome Matthieu, who was as charming and helpful as he was good looking.