East Side Café Hollander Reopens
Celebrating 10 years with more beer from Belgium
On Sunday, Nov. 20, Café Hollander (2608 N. Downer Ave.) marked its 10th anniversary, reopening after a short break with a few changes. The original location for what has become a spreading chain of Hollanders, and the flagship for the Lowlands Group restaurants, underwent some structural modifications during the weeks when it was closed for remodeling. The continually evolving menu saw some changes but without altering the character of the cuisine.
Beer, especially the Belgian varieties, has always been at the heart of the endeavor, and Café Hollander’s beer offerings have been substantially expanded. Thirteen new taps have been added, mostly for Belgian brews but with a couple of American craft beers made in the Belgian manner. At Café Hollander, beer (or should we say bier?) is given the attention wine receives in French bistros. The Hollander chain includes the only places in the Midwest where some the rare Belgian brews can be had. Much attention is lavished on the details—the kegs in which the beer is aged, the temperature, the glassware that allows the beer to caress the nose as well as the tongue. Like real yogurt, good beer is a living thing, not a dead and pasteurized product.
Remarkable flavors can be discerned in the Belgian beers, whose brewmasters tend toward fruity and peppery: A hint of cumin here, the suggestion of banana there, and even coffee-chocolate in another.
While contemplating the universe of Belgian beer, you might want to try a new addition to the starters corner of the menu: the Belgian cheese snack, with cubes of Gouda served with Dijon mustard and a shaker of celery salt. Dip the cheese into the mustard, sprinkle and imagine yourself in a bar in Bruges, rooting for the Club Brugge soccer team as they try for the Belgian Supercup.