I dine at major steakhouses on a regular basis when I'm at home in the US. I have made it a point to avoid beef while visiting Antwerp, though. I learned this less when I first started making regular trips back in 2008. However, sometimes a craving hits hard and it must be mediated. That happened tonight.
I have dined out twice while in Antwerp this week. The meals were just OK. This feeling of not having a "great" meal left me wanting something more during my last night. The friend I stay with lives near a place that serves ribs. I figured I'd try it out but the reviews weren't great. This led me to El Bife. It was well-reviewed on Tripadvisor so I stopped by for dinner.
I don't know how I have missed this location all these years walking around in the neighborhood. A great beef location was right under my nose, but I never knew it! The first thing you notice upon entering is the wood-burning grill inside the front door. I knew the meat would be cooked properly after I saw that. The menu is simple and has the appropriate cuts for beef lovers. I had my heart set on spare ribs though.
My dinner came with a nice salad WITH GREAT TOMATOES. I couldn't believe I would have flavorful tomatoes in Antwerp in December. You can't get that in California, nevermind Antwerp during most of the summer months! My entree was large and I had the baked potato instead of fries. It's cute that they call it a "jacked potato."
The ribs were tender and juicy. My only complaint, and thus not five stars, is there is something bizarre in the sauce they put on the spare ribs. I eventually figured out it is All Spice. I'm not a fan of it, but I know that Europeans tend to like it. To me it made my ribs have a hint of a cookie on them. I prefer Louisiana Style ribs, but no matter. Next time I'll just order a steak. The other cuts I saw being served didn't appear to be loaded with sauce.
The potato was great. I've had my fair share of baked potatoes, and you CAN ruin them. The butter that came with the cold sauces was also very yummy.
The interior is elegant and comfortable. Service is prompt and thorough. My only regret is not visiting this location sooner. I will definitely return!
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