100 Best Restaurants 2008: Brasserie Beck

No. 36: Brasserie Beck

Cuisine: At chef Robert Wiedmaier’s second restaurant, the supper-club elegance of Marcel’s gives way to the earthiness of traditional and contemporary Belgian cooking, with its preponderance of hearty, bacony stews, its affinity for beer-spiked sauces, and its pile-it-on tendencies.

Mood: A showpiece kitchen—check out the copper pots—and gorgeous raw bar dominate the high-ceilinged space, which both evokes the train stations of Europe and re-creates the convivial spirit of the newer bistros of Brussels.

Best for: Fall and winter dining, when the big portions and the richness of the food, particularly preparations of game, leave you feeling primed for the hunt.

Best dishes: Braised rabbit with a sauce of its own juices fortified with kriek (cherry) beer; a classic coq au vin, heavy on the bacon; an elegant brandade made from real cod; a lush steak tartare; a quiche Lorraine so full of ham that it seems more Lorraine than quiche; a satiny pea soup with veal-cheek meatballs; hand-ground lamb sausage with lentils.

Insider tips: One of the most extensive selections of Belgian beers outside of Brussels, presided over by a “beer sommelier,” means that wine takes a back seat here. Given the number of sweet beers on offer—including the terrific Floris apple—and the large portions, it might make sense to finish with a brew instead of a dessert.

Service: ••½

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.