La Frite Belgian Bistro is a Gem..
It was recommended to me by a “local” for my last night in SA before returning to Boston, and I wish I know how to reach her to thank her. It was everything you want from a restaurant rolled up in one: wonderful food; exceptional wines at reasonable prices; friendly, professional and engaging staff; a high-energy buzz from every table, and spotless.
Belgians are not just known for their waffles anymore.
Before I review La Frite Belgian Bisro, I must disclose that I knew the co-owner from a prior context: He and I went to high school together. But we had not kept in touch since graduation, so my decision to dine at La Frite and his owning the restaurant were completely coincidental. In fact, that just happened to be a nice surprise.
La Frite is charming restaurant, set in the center of the King William District, just down the street from one of the city's fixtures, Rosario's Restaurant y Cantina. But you only realize this once you enter the restaraunt. From the outside, La Frite is somewhat intimidating with its linen table cloths and tall wine glasses. In fact, I almost did not enter it because of this. La Frite does not across as a casual French café, but it is not a café; it is a bistro. And it it is not French; it is Belgian.
What I appreciate about La Frite is its location. There is no lack of fancy (often flashy) restaurants on the Riverwalk, so it is refreshing to see an unassuming Belgian Bistro in the heart of King William. In fact, I prefer the artistic, casual locale of La Fritte to the loud and crowded locale of the Riverwalk.
What I like best about La Frite is that is distinctly European in its interior decor and the casual yet tasteful appropriate dress of its staff, including the management. I have never been to Belgium (or continental Europe for that matter), so I cannot comment on how well La Frite manages to import the style of the homeland to San Antonio. But I will say that once I entered the bistro, I felt right at ease, even with the French names on the menu and the not so modest prices of the entrees. I credit the staff for this. They were very nic, helpful but not overbearing, and all of them pretty young like me (I am 26).
I will not spend a lot of time talking about the food because you really have to try it for yourself. I had the Onglet aves Frites, a top skirt steak served with fries and mixed vegetables. I was expecting (at least for) something very good, but the Onglet was wonderful: It was cooked just right and filling. What I noticed about La Fritte is that is one of the few restaurants I have eaten at where I have left feeling like I ate just enough. In other words, I managed to not overeat. Maybe this had to do with my careful monitoring of the pre-appetizers (bread rolls) I consumed, but I think it is a testament to La Fritte's portionings.
I doubt I will return to dine at La Fritte, except maybe for a desert (which I missed out on that night) or an appetizer. But that has to do with my financial restraints and certainly not my experience with the bistro. Although it is certainly not cheap, La Fritte is well worth it. And I cannot say that for many restaurants. I at least count myself as fan.
didn't meet our expectations.
so i just lost my big review and I won't do it again so basically, it started well: nice drinks, nice appetizers (the onion tart was fantastic and the salmon pate was very good although the seasoning could be slightly improved).
Then came the entrees and things started to go down hill.
My wife ordered the moules marinieres which were bland. She could detect no white wine, onion or garlic which is the base of the sauce before you add cream to it. There was also sand...
My steak tartare was funny. the meat was chopped and not ground but I didn't mind that. The seasoning was too tex-mexy for me and I think it's not a nice way to customize the recipe. Some would say it is just wrong but I still ate it all. The french fries were cold when I got my plate too. Oh, and they came with a green sauce that we couldn't manage to identify. And didn't like either.
But the nail in the coffin was the poor service. Ok it was a (very) busy night but the empty plate of moules sat 45 minutes on our table which wouldn't happen even in France. We had to ask for it to be removed.
Then the desserts. It could have saved the dinner but again we might have set our expectations a little too high. The pear and almond tart didn't really taste like any of its main ingredients. I felt like it was more like some weird pudding on a crust. My wife's "belgian waffle" was soggy. But that's not the worst part. It was just not a real belgian waffle at all. It was an american waffle. The same kind you can order at Denny's. I don't know if it has always been like that since it was our first time though.
We really try to find things that would make us want to go back some day we couldn't find any. other than the onion tart that we can make at home.
Joie! Joie!. We decided to try La Frite on whim after reading about it in The Current. We started with the Moules in the wine sauce. The bread they set out on the table was fantastic. I skipped the Frites because the bread was so good. We ordered from the Prix Fixe Menu and the Red Snapper with Lentils was by far the best. We also ordered the Tempura Trout but it was not as fantastic; however, it was still very good. We went on a Friday night before 7pm without reservations. I did begin to feel rushed around 7:30 to eat and get out and that may be why the Tempura Trout wasn't as appetizing. The restaurant is small and it gets very loud.
Loved it!. We went on a weeknite near closing time, we normally don't stay if its less than 30min to closing but the staff welcomed us in & promptly sat us at a cozy table. They do offer a pre fixe menu but we opted for the mussels that were fantastic, the sauce was so worthy of sopping up w/the good bread. We also had the classic steak frite, I think it was a hangar cut, it was delicious! We can't wait to go back!
Excellent Belgian and French food outside of Europe.
My wife and I dined at La Frite regularly and I must say, it is as close to a 5 star restaurant as it could possibly get outside of Belgium or France. The owner(s) and chef(s) have kept true to their identity by maintaining Belgian/French's cultural identity in its cuisines.
Highly recommend La Frite for those who want to enjoy exceptional dining with the touch and feel of a European restaurant.
We'll see you there!
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