Review: Belgian Beer Café Torenhof Degustation Menu
There’s a low, convivial hum in the joint as we settle at our table at Belgian Beer Torenhof. It’s another busy Saturday night and plenty of both diners and drinkers are buzzing like happy little bees throughout the sepia-toned, wood panelled and welcoming space, the life and ambience a stark contrast to the distinctly average early autumn weather we’ve left outside in the car park. It’s serious business we’re here on, though (well, sort of); we’ve-arrived to experience The Hof’s exciting new four-course degustation menu complete with wine or beer match, now available on Friday and Saturday nights (and a steal at just $65 per person) and offering an array of tempting options from their updated menu that has something for everyone. Things are kicked off with a traditional Belgian favourite that’s proved a long-time popular choice at Christchurch’s own Belgian enclave as well; a terrific trio of Belgian croquettes in beef, spicy sausage, and mushroom with Dijon mustard. Golden-brown crunchy perfection on the outside and light, flavoursome tastiness within, they’re perfect with a glass of Stella to take the hungry edge off and warm us up for the feast to come.
Tomatoes star in the entrees; a fresh tomato soup with pesto and wholegrain bread is perfect comfort food on a too-wintry night, while mushroom and spinach pasta spirals score a tangy extra zing care of sundried tomatoes in the pesto cream sauce, which pairs perfectly with the suggested wine match of a fresh and buttery Kopiko Bay Pinot Gris.
Time for the main course, and it’s hard to go past classic Belgian mussels. The ‘Hof has plenty of varieties up its sleeve with these tasty shellfish, but the degustation option is a bit of a classic; Moules Mariniére, ‘sailor-style’ mussels with white wine, garlic, celery, leek and thyme. There may not be a better dish to go with a cold beer – and it’s Jupiler pale lager, Belgium’s biggest-selling beer, that puts the proper capper on this sensational seafood dish. Whisking across the culinary globe just by crossing to the other side of the table, we also tackle the Asian-inspired twice-cooked pork belly (pictured top) with green onion and soy sauce over stir fry noodles, the melt-in-the-mouth pork combining beautifully with the fresh, piquant hit of the onions and moreish noodles with just the right amount of sauce.
There’s barely room for dessert at this point, but seeing Belgian baked waffles with chocolate sauce on offer, we prepare to give it a go anyway. The crisp waffles are elevated into the flavour stratosphere by the rich chocolate sauce, and despite being low on room, one bite leads to another until we’re basking in the afterglow and savouring the primo matched Belle-Vue Kriek’s fruity, lambic-based cherry beer and Wither Hills Rosé summer berries in a glass. We take our time, as the weather outside is still decidedly average, and it’s with reluctance that we eventually drag ourselves back out into the cold, mentally doing a calendar check to work out which weekend we can bring ourselves back.
Belgian Beer Café Torenhof
20 Durham Street
03 377 1007