From Lauren Jones. Email her at laurenjones[AT]borderstan.com
Recently opened B Too (1324 14th Street NW) brings a flavorful, modern twist of Belgian cuisine to Logan Circle. Chef and owner Bart Vandaele (you may know him from Belga Café) dedicates B Too to the hip and contemporary multicultural scene of Belgium, which is reflected in the food and eye-catching interior.
Menu items include traditional mussel bowls with flavors ranging from chorizo to lobster bisque, more playful fare like frog legs and a foie gras lollipop and beautifully grilled steak that is cooked in a Spanish influenced josper grill–the first of its kind in Washington. Pair your food with a selection from the extensive beer and wine list where Vandaele spent time to curate all of the wines himself, sometimes tasting up to 150 a day.
Country Meets City Chic
Vandaele paid full attention to the ambiance of the bi-level restaurant that, dare I say, carries a flare of European cheekiness. Think down home country meets city chic. The knowledgeable wait staff dresses in comfortable plaid and cowhides line the wall in the upstairs dining room that seats 175.
Downstairs, patrons are greeted with floor to ceiling photographs of a cow’s head and a little piggy snout. And the bathrooms… well, let’s just say they provide unique comic relief. Yet the plush leather bar stools and flower bouquets spread throughout give the space an elegant credit.
The wood for the tables and the bar has been reused and was a part of the building when it served as a locksmith shop. Vandaele also installed $60,000 worth of acoustic insulation so that guests can enjoy their dining experience without having to scream at the person across the table. Unless you choose to, of course.
B Too offers two bars, a waffle and frite bar and a chef’s table that lines the space around the open-air kitchen. Vandaele plans to incorporate new menu items weekly and introduce brunch soon. When I asked him what he thinks of the new digs he responded with “Every day is something new, something fun.” See the entire menu here.
Bart Vandaele of Belga Cafe is getting ready to open B Too. The weekend showed lots of activity at Vandaele’s new restaurant at 1324 14th Street location, just steps from The Pig and its new chef Michale Bonk.
After a year of a renovations, the opening was expected to be in April but the new opening date is May 7, according to Washington Business Journal. A peek through the front window shows that the furniture and decorations are mostly in place; the inside of the place looks gorgeous.
It seems like the 14th Street corridor is blooming this spring with new restaurants. After Le Diplomate’s April 12 soft opening and subsequently great reviews, many are waiting for the openings of Cafe Di Bari, M Cafe bar (both at at 14th and R NW) and Ghibellina.
B Too’s menu will offer waffles, Belgian dishes and a wide selection of beers. There is more information on the restaurant’s Facebook page.
Ladies and gentlemen of Borderstan, it’s just about time to pack up your knives and go… to B Too. The highly anticipated Logan Circle Belgian restaurant is back on track to open this spring.
Chef and owner Bart Vandaele originally hoped to open the restaurant at 1324 14th Street in December 2012. However, that schedule was put on hold when Vandaele spent about eight weeks in Seattle, competing in season 10 of Bravo’s “Top Chef.”
“It was awesome to be on the show,” said Vandaele on his experience on “Top Chef.” “I learned a lot in Seattle, and the show takes very good care of the chefs.”
Vandaele is also the chef and owner of Belga Café, which he opened in 2004 in Eastern Market. When asked why he decided to open another Belgian restaurant in the District, Vandaele said, “Because I am a little bit crazy, and because I am proving to the community that I am the Belgian chef in town.”
Vandaele says B Too will share some similarities with Belga Café, such as its traditional Belgian fare, but it will also differ in many ways.
The 4,800 square foot space will have two floors and three different bars, one of which will be specifically devoted to Belgian waffles and fries. Vandaele says B Too will also have an open kitchen with a kitchen bar for chef’s tastings, and a basement that will be set-up like a lounge, but won’t be “too clubby.”
“I am designing the restaurant the way I would design my house,” said Vandaele, who is hoping to create a “homey” atmosphere with warm colors, wood from the original building and exposed brick walls.
Vandaele also hopes to bring some contemporary elements to the space, with accents like leather and cowhide. He says he is planning something “really funky” for the restrooms.
“It’s a bit provocative, but I think DC can handle it,” said Vandaele.
Vandaele will also bring a Josper to B Too, a traditional Spanish oven that uses charcoal to create a smoky flavor – the first in the District.
However detailed the design aspects of B Too will be, Vandaele emphasizes that food will be the priority.
“The food at B Too will be very focused on the Belgian cuisine,” said Vandaele, who also said that the restaurant will use mostly local ingredients. “We will have nice, classic dishes and maybe reinvent them.”
Stay tuned for more information on specifics of the opening date.