Opening Hours 12:00 p.m. till 3:00 a.m. (Sat-Thurs); 2:00 p.m. till 2:00 a.m. (Friday)Call Now
Elevated Flemish comfort food meets world cuisine in a classy-casual ambience that has us packing up the leftovers.
When dining out with friends, finding a spot that ticks all the boxes is a fine foodie balance – with someone always having to sacrifice their preference for the sake of the group. Whether it’s the vegetarian who’s left floating on an iceberg lettuce at the steakhouse, or that one friend who somehow manages to convince the group to head down to the noisy lounge when all you wanted was a quiet coffee and a catch-up.
So, it was with much anticipation that we patiently waited for Le Petit Belge to open its doors at the Crowne Plaza Muscat OCEC after months of antsy expectation. We were excited. We were hungry. And, most of all, we were pumped that yet another eatery offering was opening up in the Airport Heights neck of the woods.
If you can forgive its out-of-the-way location, the Crowne Plaza Muscat OCEC has done a stellar job at drawing in the masses with its solid F&B cast of characters. Its Friday Big Chill brunch has quickly become a weekend institution in Muscat, while its gorgeous Charm Thai restaurant is serving up big, authentic flavours from the Land of Smiles.
When we caught wind that their latest offering, Le Petit Belge, was finally open we made a Thursday night beeline over to check it out. Entering the restaurant, we’re greeted by a neon tube-light slogan declaring ‘Fortune favors the brave’. It’s a sign of things to come, as their menu is a force to be reckoned with.
Elevated tables and comfortable booths surround the central dining area, while black-brick walls, funky light fixtures, and abstract wall art create an upscale yet comfortable ambience. We seat ourselves at a large elevated banquette table near the entrance to the outdoor terrace and settle in to scan their menu.
There we find Belgian classics and Flemish comfort food writ large, next to unexpected bistro bites such as tuna tartare, chicken Cordon Bleu, and quinoa with super-greens that lend the menu a distinctly global touch.
To begin, we go for a classic round of Belgian starters – bitterballen and a portion of Belgian fries. Though the restaurant is filling up with the Thursday evening dinner crowd, the service is fast and friendly – our starters appearing over the horizon tout suite.
The bitterballen are round and golden, fried to a perfect crisp and filled with an unsually moreish mixture of corned beef and served with a side of spicy (and we mean spicy) brown Dijon mustard. It’s a combination that we just can’t get enough of, devouring in short order while we dip our piping-hot, fluffy Belgian fries in Le Petit Belge’s house-made mayo.
For our mains we go for a hodge-podge of offerings with a global flair. There’s the grilled octopus served with roasted peppers and potatoes and tossed in aioli, a tuna tartare and classic Ceasar salad for the health-conscious at our table, and a portion of Le Petit Belge’s signature truffle mac ‘n cheese and a slab of their Australian grain-fed rib-eye for those of us who are not.
Both the grilled octopus and the truffle mac ‘n cheese come served in molten-hot cast-iron skillets and are lush comforts to behold, with their rich aromas and depth of flavour. We dig in with our forks to the mac ‘n cheese first – breaking through its delicate bubbly crust to the fragrant truffle bechamel pasta below. It’s sinful. And we love every single bite.
The octopus is also delightfully flavoursome – toothsome without being overly rubbery and offset nicely by the light aioli and zingy peppers and perfect with a squeeze of lemon over top. The Caesar salad and the tuna tartare are both standouts – the tartare in particular, layered with a smooth avocado emulsion and zesty greens. The fish is fresh and the marination sublime. And as for the rib-eye? Well, there wasn’t enough mushroom sauce in the world to slake our appetites for this truly exceptional cut.
Proving to those palates abroad that Belgium has more up its sleeve on the culinary front than chocolate, waffles, and steaming pots of mussels, Le Petit Belge is a tasty ambassador indeed.
Lower level, Crowne Plaza Muscat OCEC
Opening hours: 12:00 p.m. till 3:00 a.m. (Sat-Thurs); 2:00 p.m. till 2:00 a.m. (Friday)
Contact: (+968) 2425-2000
Dinner for three: RO43.6
Delightful Flemish fare and Belgian comfort food classics in an unpretentious ambience ideal for the after-work crowd.
Do you have a favourite restaurant that you’d like to see reviewed? Let Y know at firstname.lastname@example.org