Belgian beers on tap at The Globe
It's not hard to find Belgian waffles or Belgian chocolate whenever you have a craving. But if you're curious about Belgian beer, pack your appetite and visit The Globe Dine Bar in downtown Garden Grove.
The continental-style pub is the creation of Belgian native Michael Pauwels. He attended high school in Fountain Valley and later opened a Mexican restaurant, of all things, in East Flanders. He moved back to the U.S. a couple of years ago to start another exotic venture. Since August, he and his wife have been introducing Orange County to an array of Belgian craft beers.
While the kitchen is focused on European cuisine and the bar on the tiny nation of Belgium, all corners of the world are reflected in the interesting décor.
When arriving for dinner, Pauwels left his perch behind the bar and invited us to have a seat anywhere. We landed at the South Africa table, where a collage of giraffes, a city map and the flag gave us a quick tour of the country and prompted conversation about how fun a safari would be. Frames held colorful paper currencies from abroad. Near the bar, a couple traced a route along a large map on the wall, perhaps also dreaming of a vacation? The lighting was dim and the lounge music lively yet playing at a soft volume.
We told Pauwels we wanted to try Belgian beer and asked for recommendations. He asked what we liked and then offered suggestions. The drinks menu was also a helpful reference with detailed descriptions of draft and bottled beers we'd never heard of. Apparently, Belgium has been making specialty beer since the Middle Ages and the drinks are served in goblets decorated with their names. We tried the fruity Mort Subite Cherry Lambic ($7), the seasonal Delirium Noel and the regular Delirium Tremens, both $8.50.
The dark seasonal brew came in a glass covered with the beer logo and pink elephants wearing Santa caps. The cherry drink was sweet and sour and a good choice for those who don't love the taste of beer. The best was the malty and rich tremens.
For those who want to eat their drink, beer is incorporated into some entrees, including the beer beef stew ($17) made with Grimbergen Ale.
We started with fried gouda croquettes ($5.50), a triangular twist on mozzarella sticks. When Pauwels brought the platter, he suggested squeezing a fresh wedge of lemon on top for a zesty tang on the breaded, buttery cheese. Each bite was warm, soft, yet also solid enough that the cheese stayed intact instead of pulling.
My friend ordered the smoked salmon salad ($12) made of mixed greens, carrots, tomatoes, eggs and a strawberry vinaigrette. The dressing, as it turns out, isn't a Belgian touch, but rather a nod to Garden Grove. Pauwels wanted to acknowledge the city's agricultural roots and the annual strawberry festival. The fusion can also be seen on the dessert menu with a Belgian waffle served with strawberries.
The salad dressing was thick and sweet, clearly made from fresh fruit, and while it cut the potency of the fish, more acidity would have gone better with the vegetables.
I tried the spinach quiche ($10), a dense wheel of green inside tender pastry crust. Unlike many other quiches that are predominantly egg and cheese, this dish was dominated by the tender spinach strands, which I enjoyed. It came with a substantial salad. Some fresh bread would have made a nice addition to the table.
We ended the evening with a two-toned chocolate Belgian mousse topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings ($6). It was light and tasty, and not too sweet. The wide-mouthed serving goblet reminded me of a cocktail glass.
Pauwels was attentive and we never felt rushed. In fact, we had to ask for the check. He later said his vision of hospitality is encouraging patrons to stay as long as they wish.
On another visit for a late lunch, we sat on the pleasant outdoor patio lined with international flags. Again Pauwels served us. My friend ordered a black forest ham sandwich ($7.50) and opted for pasta salad instead of hand-cut fries. The order arrived with fries instead of the salad, but after tasting them, neither of us was complaining. They were thick, steaming hot and crisp. The fat sandwich, served on a soft baguette, included unexpected slices of hard boiled eggs inside the nest of romaine, onion and tomatoes on top of the salty ham. The combination tasted really good.
I ordered a small veggie pizza ($10) with a thin crunchy crisp crust. The thickness came from the cheese, which bubbled and browned on the edges. The wisps of onion, along with thicker wedges of green pepper and tomatoes, were fresh and flavorful.
Next time I want to come for what Pauwels calls "hoppy" hour, weekdays from 4-7 p.m. A four-beer sampler, where you can choose smaller servings for variety, seems like the perfect way to get to know more of Belgium and of The Globe.
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