Review by Alex Terwilliger
So here's what we think...
When you hear ‘Belgian Brasserie’ you might not immediately think ‘GF-friendly.’ But Belga‘s huge menu of small plates, salads, and decadent mains is almost all gluten-free, with very few modifications necessary. Located right on Union Street in Cow Hollow, Belga‘s seating is abundant in the bar section as well as main dining area, with a handful of outdoor tables as well. Great for brunch, lunch, dinner, or drinks and snacks, this one is a recent addition to the list of NOBREAD favorites…
I came for lunch on a weekday when the place was not overly crowded. I started with the smoked trout rillettes, which were served with picked onions, sliced cucumbers, and lettuce cups in lieu of bread. They were deliciously creamy and flavorful; a must if you are a fan of smoked fish. Next up was a yellow corn soup with tomato and tarragon, garnished with crispy bits of bacon — also a great starter, and very much in season. I was told by my server not to miss two of their most popular entrees: the house-made sausages and the mussels. Both were offered in a variety of styles. Sausages without gluten included currywurst, kielbasa, chicken sausage, and cherry-duck sausage. Each came with different accoutrements (tomato chutney, sauerkraut and mustard beurre blanc, frisee, onion marmalade), or you could order a board with 3 or 6 sausages, which would be served with mustard and veggies (ask to sub veggies in place of spatzle). I went with the kielbasa and sauerkraut with mustard beurre blanc. The sauerkraut was flecked with caraway seeds which was a nice surprise. Mussels came either dry-roasted with clarified butter; steamed with white wine, shallots and garlic (*must ask to sub white wine in place of beer to make GF); or sautéed with white wine, garlic sausage, tomato and tarragon. I had the sautéed ones with sausage, which were super flavorful and perfect for dunking fries with. Which leads me to my next point: order the fries! They are fried in their own fryer, so there’s no risk of cross-contamination. *Mussels come with bread, so be sure to specify no bread.*
I didn’t have a chance to try any of their salads, but there were 5 on the menu that all sounded great, only one of which needed to be modified: kale salad with anchoiade vinaigrette and feta (order without flat bread); quinoa salad with grilled avocado and pumpkin seeds, Point Reyes toma and castelvetrano olive tapenade; bibb lettuce with breakfast radish, chèvre and champagne vinaigrette; Waldorf salad with grilled chicken and all the usual Waldorf toppings; and Niçoise salad with grilled tuna.
Although Belga‘s extensive beer list is largely off limits, they do have a number of ciders available that cater well to the GF crowd, including an aged cider that they describe as being champagne-like. As perfect for brunch as it is for a night out, or dinner with the family, Belga is definitely a must!