5 Things to Look For at B Too (Photos and Menu)

Belgian dishes, 150 beers, and eccentric bathroom art at 14th Street’s newest spot.

The bar boasts 120 different kind of beer glasses for the expansive list, as well as wine and cocktails. Photograph by Andrew Propp.

Belgian mussels and fries are a ubiquitous dish around Washington, but
vlaamse stoverij met rode kool (Flemish beef stew)? Not so much. B Too, the newest spot from Belga Cafe chef/owner

Bart Vandaele, isn’t just another spot to quaff Belgian beers and munch on
frites, though you’ll find plenty of both. The recent
Top Chef competitor’s nearly complete, 175-seat Belgian restaurant is slated to open for dinner
on May 7. Here’s what to look for.

“Mussel waffles” and casseroles for two

You’ll find familiar
moules marinière cooked in white wine and shallots with Belgian
frites, but much of the dinner menu (sample menu, items subject to change) reads less traditional. You might try a
mosselwafel appetizer—a puff-pastry waffle stuffed with herbs and mussels—or the bivalves cooked
with bacon, shiitakes, and saison beer in a Josper oven. The cooker is rare in Washington—a
mix of a traditional oven and a charcoal-fueled charbroiler that lends a smoky flavor
to its contents, including entrées such as roasted lobster with five-spice butter
or bone-in rib eye for two with confit garlic and a choice of sauces (wild mushroom
or simple garlic butter may do well here). Dishes like the steak in the shareable
“casserole” section can all be prepared for two or more; you’ll also find offerings
like whole pheasant and Brussels sprouts or braised rabbit and plums with mushrooms.

Sausages in the bathroom

Natascha Folens—also behind new Penn Quarter spot Azur—helped
create a whimsical decor with touches that evoke both a sleek European eatery and
a Western lodge. You’ll find blond wood, leather chairs, and Argentinian cowhides
lining the walls in the sidewalk-level main dining room. A staircase with wine bottles
underneath leads to a subterranean bar and dining area, with sofa seating and a ten-top
table for large parties or communal dining. The bathrooms on both floors are the most
playful features. The downstairs commodes recall the great outdoors with grass-painted
tiles. Upstairs, the men’s room boasts six varieties of sausages painted on the walls.
Underneath is a ruler for measuring . . . whatever you’d like to measure during a
bathroom break.

120 different beer glasses

It’s a good thing the only bulls in the restaurant are mounted on the walls. The Belgian
beer list runs 150 deep, with nearly as many different types of vessels for complementing
the brew’s aroma and flavor. The bar boasts 12 taps and a booklet for the rest, organized
by category for easy navigation. Among the Belgian reds and wheat beers you’ll also
find a sizable selection of gluten-free options. Sweet tooths can peruse a selection
of “dessert beers,” or fruity lambics. Less sugary is the house B Too Ale, a collaboration
between the restaurant and Kasteel brewery. Not into the bubbly stuff? Choose among
100 wines or cocktails.

Weekend deejay brunch

Though details are still be worked out, Vandaele envisions guests wobbling—er, walking—downstairs
for deejay-spun tunes to accompany fried eggs on mushroom toast and B Good brunch
cocktails. Those looking to nurse a hangover in a quieter atmosphere can hang upstairs
and navigate the large menu (again, subject to change), with everything from crepes to sandwiches such as an
egg-topped duck confit club and sweet and savory waffles.

Happy hour and late-night waffles

Dinner isn’t the only time to dine at B Too. Look for an early evening happy hour
slated to start in June with specials on beer, wine, and cocktails, as well as bites
like slow-cooked, deep-fried baby-back ribs. Night owls will find a variety of offerings
in the coming weeks. Snacks in the “little hunger” section include pork rilletes with
baguette and house-made pickles, or a vegetable-herb salad served in a “shake it yourself”
jar for evenly distributing dressing. Bigger appetites can go for plates such as duck
confit meatballs over fries, or a decadent foie gras waffle with poached pears alongside
a flight of five beers on draft. And of course, there’s always
moules frites.

B Too. 1324 14th St., NW; 202-627-2866. Opening hours: 5:30 to 9:30 PM. The hours
will expand in the coming weeks; check with the restaurant for details.

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.