Today we had lunch at the Belgian Beer Cafe De Fontein at Mission Bay. I’ve been here a number of times over the years. This time of the year is the best, as you can sit outside on the balcony and look out to the beach and ocean beyond.
We arrived at 12.30pm, so the height of lunch and all the outside tables were full, but they said they would move us outside once a table came free. We sat at a table inside. After sometime the waitress came back, we were ready to order some drinks, actually we were ready when we sat down. It wasn’t a mad busy lunch time, and it wasn’t crowded, as half the tables inside were empty. It also didn’t seem like there were to many or too few staff. About right for the number of people.
On the drinks menu there was a promotion for the “De Fontein Pilsner”.
I asked the waitress about it. As there wasn’t much more than “Crisp hoppy bitterness with just a touch of malt”. This didn’t tell me much.
I asked where it was from/where it was made. She said “here”. It was their beer. I started to ask did they make it in the kitchen, or have a brewery on site, but then stopped as it just made things more confusing.
It was obviously going to be a Lion brewed beer. Do people really get sucked in by buying house labelled beer? What is the point? I guess it’s the price? So who cares where it’s made.
(On leaving I asked for a small taste, and at a guess would say it is Mac’s Hop Rocker. Why not sell it as that. Isn’t there more value in having the Mac’s brand on it rather than De Fontein Pilsner )
I had a Hoegaaden and it was as good as it as ever. Love the citrus from the orange peel and coriander (or flavours of). But always find the little floral note slightly detracting in the finish. Still 4/5
The others got a 1 litre jug of Jupiler to share. Pretty clean, flavourless and easy drinking. Well made, and fresh.
Here is a photo of my 500ml Hoegaarden glass next to the 1000ml jug of Jupiler. That is a lot of glass in the Hoegaarden.
Both beers were in great condition.
Prices seem pretty fair for the beers in this place. More than your average mainstream beers. But for imports with higher ABV’s they offered value.
Only issue was some where out of stock due to the last two weeks being holidays. Missed out on the Rochfort 10 I wanted ($17.50)
Since the service was pretty slow I just took a punt and quickly ordered a large main size calamari with the drinks, as an entrée to share. Even though it had been a year or so since I had had this meal here, the previous couple of times I had been impressed.
This time not so much. Everything on this plate was disappointing. I’ll leave it as that. I just hope the feedback makes it to the kitchen, and they can lift their game.
We had just finished our calamari and drinks and they came and said we could move outside. WooHoo. Beautiful day. Before we moved we said we wanted to place our order for our food. Didn’t want to lose our waitress again and have to wait even longer.
Tomato and Basil Pesto ones didn’t have much of either of those flavours.
The cheese and bacon just dominated the mussels
The crumbed/breaded/parmesan overpowered the mussel as well.
Don’t get these, as they aren’t that great.
The BBQ Pork Ribs (800gms shown) came with a very runny/watery liquid on the plate. Maybe the sauce used, BBQ sauce? There was no BBQ flavour. The ribs were tender, meat fell of the bone, there was plenty of meat. There was just no flavour. Maybe they forgot to put the BBQ sauce on?
OK, but wouldn’t recommend these.
Where was the Flemish Stew? No longer on the menu?
Unfortunately they were all disappointing apart from the Thai curry. They lacked any flavour intensity.
So if you are going to order a pot of mussels, just got straight to the Thai curry. There was a deal on today where you get the mussels for half price with your beer.
In summary, this place had a feel of new management (or owners on holiday), the food felt like there was some corner cutting going on, as the quality wasn’t has high as I have come to expect. The staff seemed new, inexperienced, and overwhelmed. They lacked knowledge, and attention to customers. We had to get their attention several times, to get them to come over. We had to ask for water, twice.
For the win, location, great weather, good company, good beer.
If you visit (sorry I couldn’t have been more positive about todays experience), get there just before 12 noon, get a primo spot on the balcony, and watch the world go by. Order a 500ml of Hoegaarden and a half pot of the Thai curry mussels.
I found this old photo of a younger version of me (from 2004, WHAT!?? 11 years ago) with Trevor and Lynn Ready who started De Fontein in Mission Bay. Not sure when this bar opened, but this photo was from the night they got awarded the Brew Masters certificate for clean beer lines. Guessing it wasn’t long after they opened.
The beer is good here. An extensive range of bottled Belgian specialty beers.