Brabant Belgian Brasserie

Midtown East
This 120-seat Belgian restaurant offers five kinds of mussels and frites, including a classic rendition with white wine and garlic, and another that mixes Duvel beer with buffalo sauce. Diners can also choose from options like cheese croquettes, rotisserie-roasted North Fork duckling with fig sauce and spring-onion mashed potatoes, and Belgian waffles with strawberries, chocolate or rum-caramelized bananas. Ten taps dispense Belgian brews, like Stella Artois and Delirium Tremens, and more than 50 bottles round out the beer selection.
Venue name: Brabant Belgian Brasserie
Contact:
Address: 316 E 53rd St
New York

Cross street: between First and Second Aves
Opening hours: Mon–Thu 11:30am–11pm; Fri 11:30am–2am; Sat 9:30am–2am; Sun 9:30am–11pm  
Transport: Subway: E, M to Lexington Ave–53rd St
Price: Average main course: $24. AmEx, DC, Disc, MC, V

Average User Rating

5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:1
  • 4 star:0
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
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Friedrich K.

Having Belgian-born parents, and an unshakable fondness for Belgian beer, I've been to virtually every Belgian restaurant in Manhattan; and, as it stands, Brabant, only open for about about a month or so, is already my favorite one. I have not been to Belgium for almost 3 years now (and it's killing me), but let me say this, as soon as you walk into this place, it transports you. The decor is cozy, warm, refined, romantic, and, most importantly, convivial (there's exposed brick, dark-wood paneling, a beautifully-done marble bar, tablecloths, little oil lamps, etc.) -- on a recent Friday night, I think I saw as many couples as I did groups of friends; which, I think, speaks for itself. The layout here is also unique; it's quite large, but spread out over several rooms that have their own rustic character, unlike anything I've seen on the island. As per usual, I prefer to sit by the bar. Now, for my favorite part, at my favorite Belgian restaurant: the beer and food. No surprise there, I assume. I've already been here 5 times (I was here on "Day One"), and I have not had a less than excellent meal (though two were just divine, read on). So here are some recommendations: Bitterballen (little fried meatballs with a side of spicy mustard sauce) are out of this world, simply the best I've had. The mussel pots with the frites are all exceptionally done; the frites are thick, crispy and delicious; and the mussels are plump and bursting with flavor, with the help of some amazing sauces, of course (my favorite so far is the "HeffeLeffe," which is made with Leffe Blonde beer). For entrees, I've had the duckling, shrimp roll, steak frites and carbonnade, which were all superb; but notice, I've been here five times and had only four entrees...well, that's because I had one twice: the carbonnade. -- WOW! This stuff is heavenly. I have not had a beef stew even vaguely comparable to this since I was in Belgium. The meat melts in your mouth, the sauce is addictive (you need to ask for extra bread to make sure that you get it all), and it's served with phenomenal whipped potatoes, which are GREAT. For some reason, other Belgian restaurants serve their carbonnade with frites, which is nice, but incorrect. In Belgium, carbonnade is almost always served with a massive scoop of whipped potatoes on top -- it's ultimate synergy! My imagination got so caught up with the food that I almost forgot about the beer -- shame on me! Like most people, I really like beer on tap and they have 10 of them; all standard Belgian brews, but all awesome in their own right. The Leffe Bruin and La Chouffe have been my go-to's. But, dear lord, do they have some bottle list (57, I counted), which makes sense because many Belgian ales are fermented in the bottle. The Trappist Rochefort selection (#'s 6-10) is impressive, but I immediately gravitated to the stuff I hadn't had. Here are two that really stood out: Blanche de Namur and Gulden Draak; the former is light, refreshing, with a pleasant citrusy sourness, a really nice alternative to Hoegaarden; the latter, is smooth and creamy with a complex wine-like and fruity flavor, and an almost flowery aroma -- it also has a pretty high alcoholic content if you're looking for a quick buzz (I take notes on this stuff because I'm an über nerd when it comes to beer). Anyway, these guys do everything right, and I suspect that they will only continue to improve. I just hope that it's large size will prevent it from becoming too packed once it surely becomes a Belgian mecca in Manhattan, and, ergo, in the U.S. My only minor complaint has been the hit-or-miss service and the time it takes to get the food out; but both have exponentially improved since I first went here. It seems that these guys are really getting their groove on now. In sum, this place makes me really, really happy.