Having one day off school for the Lunar New Year, I thought I would be able to fit a quick visit to Chinatown New Year’s events and then a run to the Museum of Mathematics in one day. Of course, the course of true love (or getting out of the house on time, for that matter) never did run smooth and by the time we were all ready, half day was gone. As we didn’t have that much time and it was quite a chilly day, the girls decided that they’d rather go to the museum, which was more appealing than fireworks in a cold park, after getting their hong baos, that is.
To be honest, I am not too familiar with the Madison Square Park area (or NoMad, as real estate brokers like to call it). When we got off the train, the girls began getting antsy and I was beginning to need some food (and maybe a glass of wine). Eataly seemed an interesting option (especially after we saw the Valentine Nutella display on the window), but then I remembered that it tends to be packed and that was the last thing we needed.
We headed towards the museum (located at 11 East 26 Street), and of course, hit the Lego store on the way, crossed Broadway and admired the Flatiron building. On the corner of 26 and Fifth Avenue was the Belgian Beer Cafe and as it was only half a block away from the museum, we decided to have a late lunch before our visit. The place was not especially crowded, as we got there at that time that is a bit too late for lunch but way to early for dinner.
The space is very ample, a two-floor room with high ceilings and huge windows facing the park and East 26 Street. The long bar is to the right and to the left there is an arrangement of heavy dark wood tables and some booths.
We were quickly sat on one of the tables and before we got our our menus (yes, they also have a kids’ menu), we were brought some bread and butter. The butter was very tasty (I think it had some mustard seeds in it) and at the perfect temperature. They also brought us a high chair for La Petite Wasabi, who is at that age/size in which high chairs are a bit too small (but are good to keep her from walking around the restaurant) and regular chairs are a bit too big.
As the girls were really in a rush to go to the museum (how about being in a rush to get ready and out of the house?) and said they were not too hungry, we ordered one of the kids’ menu burger to share and an extra side of fries. I got the smoked salmon tartine sandwich, which was very filling and tasty, even though I felt that the presentation was not that great: an open smoked salmon sandwich on pumpernickel bread and then the mixed baby greens salad just tossed on top of it. It was delicious nonetheless. The Mini Belgian Beer Café Burger was tasty but it was more of a slider than a burger. At least it came with its own side of fries with ketchup and truffle oil mayo. I wouldn’t say it is ideal for sharing, but then, the extra side of fries did the trick with us and, in fact, we couldn’t finish all of our lunch. Of course, mama had a nice cold Leffe to go with her sandwich.
The bathrooms are all the way in the back left, to the right side. There are tree single bathrooms, two for the ladies and one for the gents. They are clean but not too ample and none of the ladies rooms had a changing table.
Overall a nice and kid friendly experience in a neighborhood that we don’t visit that much. Its proximity to the Museum of Maths (which doesn’t have a café or restaurant) makes it the perfect stop for a bite (and a drink) before or after a visit to the museum, especially if you want to avoid the crowds at Eataly. The pricing is Manhattan average but I believe they do have a happy hour, which should be great if you are into Belgian beers.
Belgian Beer Café
220 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10001
Monday: 12:00pm – 11:00pm
Tuesday – Thursday: 12:00pm – 12:00am
Friday: 12:00pm – 1:00am
Saturday: 11:00am – 1:00am
Sunday: 11:00am – 11:00pm