The dining room and bar at Bel. Photo courtesy Bel.
The bar. Photo courtesy Bel.
Counter seating and artwork. Photo courtesy Bel.
The taps and beer display, and, yes, Manneken Pis. Photo courtesy Bel.
A report by associate editor Dana Eastland. A tipster wrote in to let us know that ~BEL~, the Belgian-inspired restaurant we reported on back in 2013, opened on Sunday May 24th. The project comes from partners Jen Garris and Richard Rosen from nearby Pi Bar. Rosen explains that the restaurant takes its inspiration from the sidewalk cafés in Brussels and Bruges.
There’s lots of Belgian beer, of course, and the food is all about modern, local takes on Belgian café staples. There are dishes like shrimp croquettes with leek and potato or foie gras terrine to start, along with heartier choices like a brisket braised in dark Flemish ale or salt cod gratin. And don’t worry, moules frites and steak frites are available. Check out the whole menu here.
As for beer, the list is extensive and focused on Belgian and Belgian-style beers. The menu is broken into several different categories, including fruit-based beers; double, strong, and quad styles; and sour beer. The team is knowledgeable about the different styles and happy to help diners pair their beer with the food. There is also a small wine list for those who prefer wine.
The space is rather quaint and heavily inspired by the European street cafés that inform the rest of the restaurant. One of the reasons for the long delay in Bel’s opening was a major overhaul of the space by the building’s landlord, including the addition of I-beams, many of which remain exposed. The ceiling is pressed tin, and old-world-style street lamps have been brought inside to serve as light fixtures and add the the feeling of dining outside. Paintings from Alexa Wayne of Paintings by Axella of various scenes from Belgian cities adorn the walls, and the warm wooden bar has a pressed-tin tap system behind it. Oh, and we’d be remiss if we failed to mention they’ve got their very own Manneken Pis statue. Hours are Mon-Thu 4pm-10pm and Fri-Sat 4pm-12am. 3215 Mission St. at Fair, 415-206-1000.