4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Belgian bistro takes over at Vagabond locale

Euro-styled eatery serves excellent bier, but the meat doesn't translate

Little swords make this rabbit sandwich extra Belgian.
Little swords make this rabbit sandwich extra Belgian.
Place

Brabant Bar & Café

2310 30th Street, San Diego

I'm not above a little light reading before dinner. So when the menu at Brabant — South Park's newest Belgian theme restaurant — opened with a list of recommended food and beer pairings, I embraced it. But when my waitress handed me a relatively thick leather portfolio featuring an extended beer and wine list, complete with detailed explanations on the different varieties of Belgian beer, I experienced a moment akin to panic. Like that recurring dream where you show up for the final exam of a class you don't remember taking, I was forced into a moment of insecurity: am I well-enough educated to drink Belgian beer?

Very Euro, except for the stucco.

So back to the pairing suggestions. I already knew I was going to order the house-made bratwurst, because I've already read all about bratwurst in the menus of other restaurants. Evidently it pairs well with a pale ale, which I definitely feel qualified to drink, because San Diego. Delirium Tremens, one of the world's most celebrated ales, happens to be on tap at Brabant — and qualifies — so I ordered like a pro and felt good about it.

My dining companion agreed to order the pulled rabbit sandwich and share. To drink he ordered the Modern Times Saison — actually a local craft beer and only Belgian by affectation. Apparently, he's not much of a reader.

A compilation of beer knowledge.

I've brought him along because he once bartended in this space, when it was still the Vagabond, and could easily point out all the changes made by the new ownership. There've been a few, and none of them cheap. Word is, the décor's supposed to bring a distinctly Belgian feel to the place, to make the experience immersive. They've put in some beautiful wrought iron chandeliers and sconces, as well as a number of richly stained wood fixtures, including high-backed booths and some gorgeous shelves behind the bar to show off its alluring bottle selection. The best upgrade has to be the leaded glass French doors that open in front of the bar to the outdoor seating. I can't say for sure they came all the way from Belgium, but have no problem declaring their old-world craftsmanship to be marvelous.

Bratwurst with blackened onions. The frites really hit the spot.

Overall, Brabant has done a wonderful job making the space its own, and true to the world's perception of Belgium, it feels pleasant, inoffensive, well-appointed, and vaguely European without being too terribly romantic or remarkable. When the food arrived, I was ready to jump on the Belgium bandwagon and say obnoxious things like, "They really know how to live over there, those Continentals."

But I can't say that, not just yet. The rabbit meat wasn't pulled, and turned out to be more Bugs Bunny than Peter Cottontail: too tough for its own good. The bratwurst just made me miss the old Sausage King in Mission Hills; it got some of the flavors right, but ran a bit dry and also should have been more tender, especially given that sausage meat is by definition minced.

I have never been to Belgium, so I can't be sure whether there's some leather-bound book somewhere describing the way their preferred way to eat meat as vastly different from mine. But I get the feeling, for all the meticulous Belgian charm that went into making Brabant a tastefully authentic beer destination, the quality of cuisine didn't make that trip across the Atlantic.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

The secret origin of Steve Poltz’s One Left Shoe

Occasional Rugburn talks Jewel and biker chicks
Little swords make this rabbit sandwich extra Belgian.
Little swords make this rabbit sandwich extra Belgian.
Place

Brabant Bar & Café

2310 30th Street, San Diego

I'm not above a little light reading before dinner. So when the menu at Brabant — South Park's newest Belgian theme restaurant — opened with a list of recommended food and beer pairings, I embraced it. But when my waitress handed me a relatively thick leather portfolio featuring an extended beer and wine list, complete with detailed explanations on the different varieties of Belgian beer, I experienced a moment akin to panic. Like that recurring dream where you show up for the final exam of a class you don't remember taking, I was forced into a moment of insecurity: am I well-enough educated to drink Belgian beer?

Very Euro, except for the stucco.

So back to the pairing suggestions. I already knew I was going to order the house-made bratwurst, because I've already read all about bratwurst in the menus of other restaurants. Evidently it pairs well with a pale ale, which I definitely feel qualified to drink, because San Diego. Delirium Tremens, one of the world's most celebrated ales, happens to be on tap at Brabant — and qualifies — so I ordered like a pro and felt good about it.

My dining companion agreed to order the pulled rabbit sandwich and share. To drink he ordered the Modern Times Saison — actually a local craft beer and only Belgian by affectation. Apparently, he's not much of a reader.

A compilation of beer knowledge.

I've brought him along because he once bartended in this space, when it was still the Vagabond, and could easily point out all the changes made by the new ownership. There've been a few, and none of them cheap. Word is, the décor's supposed to bring a distinctly Belgian feel to the place, to make the experience immersive. They've put in some beautiful wrought iron chandeliers and sconces, as well as a number of richly stained wood fixtures, including high-backed booths and some gorgeous shelves behind the bar to show off its alluring bottle selection. The best upgrade has to be the leaded glass French doors that open in front of the bar to the outdoor seating. I can't say for sure they came all the way from Belgium, but have no problem declaring their old-world craftsmanship to be marvelous.

Bratwurst with blackened onions. The frites really hit the spot.

Overall, Brabant has done a wonderful job making the space its own, and true to the world's perception of Belgium, it feels pleasant, inoffensive, well-appointed, and vaguely European without being too terribly romantic or remarkable. When the food arrived, I was ready to jump on the Belgium bandwagon and say obnoxious things like, "They really know how to live over there, those Continentals."

But I can't say that, not just yet. The rabbit meat wasn't pulled, and turned out to be more Bugs Bunny than Peter Cottontail: too tough for its own good. The bratwurst just made me miss the old Sausage King in Mission Hills; it got some of the flavors right, but ran a bit dry and also should have been more tender, especially given that sausage meat is by definition minced.

I have never been to Belgium, so I can't be sure whether there's some leather-bound book somewhere describing the way their preferred way to eat meat as vastly different from mine. But I get the feeling, for all the meticulous Belgian charm that went into making Brabant a tastefully authentic beer destination, the quality of cuisine didn't make that trip across the Atlantic.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Luman Gaskill and the bloody gunfight at Campo, Americans invade Baja

Little Landers farm San Ysidro, Salton Sea's creation, history of eucalyptus in San Diego, Charles Hatfield makes a flood, Colorado River unchained
Next Article

What do you get when you cross Stones, Roses, and Guns?

“Anything that’s funny, we put it in there”
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Theater — On stage in San Diego this week Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close