There’s something you should know before we begin this review. I hate mussels. Despise them. They taste like sand, but I suppose that’s to be expected from a filter feeder. I can’t stand them. If I could, I’d cut them so bad, they gonna wish I no cut them so bad.
Why is this important? Because the place we’re about to review has a specialty. And that specialty is mussels.
Waterzooi is a Belgian restaurant located in Garden City. If you know Garden City, you can guess the price range of this place. Pricey though it may be, it’s definitely worth a visit. From the street, Waterzooi and the surrounding businesses don’t look especially eye catching but go into the municipal parking lot behind these buildings and it’s like stepping into a whole different world. It’s almost as if you’re walking into one of those perfect cool people hang outs in one of those perfect towns that you see on tv shows about the cool and/or perfect people. As long as you’re not bitter, it’s quite nice. The ambiance established outside continues as you walk into the dimly lit restaurant and are escorted to your table by your hostess. Word to the wise: make a reservation if you’re going for dinner. The place gets packed. Once seated, you’re given ample time to look over the menu… which brings us to what I mentioned at the start of the article. They specialize in mussels. They’ve got around 20 different ways to prepare them. If I liked mussels, I’d probably have tried some, but don’t. I’d rather eat my own face instead of mussels.
To start things off, our appetizer was nice, but nothing to write home about. It was a sort of cheese pie made with brie that, while not bad, was wholly unremarkable compared to the rest of the meal. Now that’s all well and good, but I’m sure you’re all wondering what I ended up having as my main course at the house of mussels. I shall tell you! Chicken cordon bleu. Not just any chicken cordon bleu, either. GIANT sized chicken cordon bleu. When my order came to the table, I learned something about Waterzooi. It turns out they have two specialties. Mussels (MOOMP MOOMP MOOMP BLARP! (That’s the sound of a cat barfing, btw)) and irresponsibly large portions. There were three (count em!) chicken breasts stuffed with all that good stuff chicken cordon bleu is stuffed with. There wasn’t any new twist to the dish, but what made it stand out (aside from the hilarious portion size, of course) was the quality of the ingredients. Everything was very fresh and quite delicious. Since this review is… shall we say really freaking overdue, I don’t entirely recall what my dining companions had, but I do recall they shared similar sentiments about their food: large portions and quality ingredients. Another thing to mention, albeit a minor one, was the pre-meal bread they bring out. Fresh baked, with what appeared to be freshly made butter as well. They give you a variety of European breads and the butter tasted as if it were slightly flavored with a mix of herbs. Not a big deal, but a nice touch.
The real star here wasn’t the chicken, however. It was dessert.
Oh. My. God.
Their dessert menu is brief, but remarkable. At first glance, it might look typical, with a brownie, chocolate cake, sorbet, and creme brule. And being a Belgian restaurant, they also serve a dessert waffle. Now, there are two things you need to know about these desserts. As I mentioned earlier, they are expensive, like the rest of the menu. But the portions… oh dear god the portions. Gigantic. Huge. Titanic. Epic. OMGWTF they’re quite large. My sister had what they call The Ridiculous Belgian Triple Chocolate Cake. It was about two stories tall. Seriously, it was massive. In some places, this “slice” would have been the entire damn cake. And it was magnificent. Belgian chocolate, around 8 layers, and the sauce it was served with was out of this world. Check out the dessert menu, you’ll see the entry for it. With a listing like that, you know it’s going to be good.
I had the Gaufres de Bruxelles, aka a Belgian waffle. Now, you might be thinking of those waffles you can get a diner. Maybe I’ll get a slice of that, some ice cream and call it a day. Yeah, no. Go look at the menu again. You see that entry? That’s no slice of waffle entry. That’s a whole goddamn waffle entry. That’s right, they bring out an entire Belgian waffle with your choice of toppings and plop it down at your table. After you’ve just eaten a foolishly outsized meal. Neither the menu nor the waiter tell you how big these desserts are. I think they take a perverse pleasure in seeing your shock and mild horror as they struggle to carry these behemoths to your table. Now at this point, I’m stuffed from the bread, drinks, appetizer, and dinner and they just brought out a giant waffle. With whipped cream. And chocolate sauce. And a scoop of gelato. How could I possibly eat this? What did they expect me to do? These desserts were so over the top that when the waiter brought them out, the other patrons stopped what they were doing and just stared at them. And I don’t mean just the weird old couple at the next table, I mean almost the whole damn restaurant. It actually got quiet for a second or two while everyone contemplated what was coming towards our table. It was really quite awkward, but the restaurant can hardly be blamed that their patrons are a bunch of uncultured louts. What were we to do? Well, I’ll tell you what I did.
I ate the whole damn thing.
That’s right, I ate it all. After my large and very filling meal, I ate that whole good goddamn waffle and do you know why? Because it was the greatest waffle anyone has ever had in the history of mankind. Ever. The waffle was flaky, moist, and piping hot from the waffle iron. The gelato was unreal. And I was able to eat all of this because I am a fatass. I AM FATTY, HEAR ME CHEW! Of course, I didn’t eat anything for like a day and a half afterwards, and that night I strongly suspected I would die in my sleep, but it was so worth it and I’d do it again were I to get the opportunity. My sister’s cake? She tried to offer me some, because she’s a slim little girl and the cake probably weighed more than she did, but there was no way. I mean, I had a single, small bite just to see what it was like (it was great), but even fatty all-stars like me have their limits. I actually still get echoes of how overstuffed I felt whenever I think about that meal. Best not to dwell.
So there you have it. A meal that contained enough food for twice as many people that actually came to dinner, capped with a dessert that could be a meal in itself. In fact, I’m planning to go back there one day just for drinks and dessert. It’s definitely not someplace you want to go regularly if you value the contents of your wallet, but it’s absolutely perfect for a special occasion. However, you can also go in for lunch. It turns out they have a lunch menu that’s reasonably priced and reflects their dinner menu fairly well, so that’s always an option. Overall, I’d give this place two comatose, distended bellies up.
Is that too graphic or if not, maybe too esoteric? It’s a good place, that’s what I’m trying to say. Two thumbs up and all that, except that it’s stomachs and they’ve eaten a lot so they’re distended and their owners are probably in food comas from the meal. It loses something when I explain it, I think. But you know what I mean.
I still have dreams about that waffle, you know.
Address: 850 Franklin Avenue
Garden City, NY 11530
Phone: (516) 877-2177
Danger Rating: High risk of massive internal injury due to ruptured stomach. Seriously, I’m still thinking about that waffle.