There are some hidden gems in Belgium these days, ones that beer lovers-and those who enjoy great food-should know about. The ‘t Molenhof restaurant is one such place, and it’s located within walking distance of the De Struise Brouwers brewery and taproom in Oostvleteren, West Flanders, Belgium.
While the ‘t Oude Postje (Old Post Office) has been known as a fine beer cafe for years, it’s only been the last two or three years that the attached ‘t Molenhof restaurant has been on the list of great restaurants with a superb beer list. I first visited in April 2014, and had a memorable meal. I went back for what would be a fabulous dinner on September 12, after a visit to De Struise’s Old Schoolhouse brewery.
I met chef/owner Pascal Rubben during my 2014 visit to Molenhof/Oud Postje, and his enthusiasm and passion for beer and food was obvious. Since then, Rubben was one of the chefs of the Great Belgian Beer dinner in Leuven, in April 2015, and he has been featured on Belgian TV and newspaper articles as one of Belgium’s great chefs.
‘t Molenhof (“The Mill Court”) is located just in front of an old windmill, hence the name. Both the restaurant and bar are filled with breweriana, such as old enamel advertising signs and old bottles. It’s a perfect spot to enjoy food cooked with beer, and paired with great Belgian brews.
I started with “Huisgemaakt bitterballen met Pannepot” which are homemade croquettes made with Pannepot beer from De Struise. As a huge fan of Belgian croquettes of all varieties, I simply had to. They were absolutely delicious, with a hint of the dark Pannepot brew evident. I paired this with a De Struise Brouwers Klokke Blonde, which is one of their flagship beers.
Next up was a plate of light sausage, small shrimp, lobster meat, and bread. I then moved on to a dish of “Gamba” which was three very large shrimp, as well as a couple of smaller shrimp and a salad. Not being a salad eater, I ignored it, as I always do. At this point I ordered a Brasserie Thiriez Dalva Double IPA, which is brewed not far across the border in Northern France. Word to you readers: don’t tell anyone I drank a French beer in Belgium.
After all this, you’d think that my companion and I would have had enough food for one meal. But when in Belgium, you have to go the extra mile for beer and food research. So I ordered the Steak Westhoek, which is a beatiful cut of meat topped with a heaping portion of foie gras.
Yes, I said foie gras. Incredibly rich, filling, satisfying foie gras. The steak below it was a perfect medium, with a pink center. Tender, moist, juicy. Absolutely fabulous, it was. I paired it with a De Struise Brouwers Black Albert.
You’d probably really think that I’d be full enough that I could not eat another thing, at this point. But you’d be wrong. There’s always room for dessert….and in this case it was “Cuberdone ijs van het huis” which is house-made ice cream with a raspberry flavor. It came with a side of dark chocolate sauce….and was a culinary treat. As were most of the dishes during this insanely good meal.
The beer menu at ‘t Molenhof and ‘t Oud Postje includes 12 beers on tap and over 100 in bottles, with many lambic and geuze brews on the menu, as well as regional brews, Trappist beers, and of course a large selection from hometown Oostvleteren favorite De Struise Brouwers. In case I have not made it clear enough, get there for a meal and beers! The Oude Postje cafe is open from noon until they decide to close every day but Tuesday, and the ‘t Molenhof restaurant is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. ‘t Molenhof is open from noon till 2:30 pm and from 6pm-10pm Wednesday through Saturday, and from noon till 10pm or so pm on Sundays. Even if you don’t get there for a meal, having beers at the Oud Postje cafe is a great experience. You might even run into Urbain, Carlo, or any of the other De Struise Brouwers guys having a beer there. I did.