Overview: Adding to Roslindale’s downtown restaurant scene, Bel Lounge opened in August on Washington Street, where Gusto was formerly located. Delving into the neighborhood, the restaurant represented at the 2011 Taste of Roslindale event. At barely one-month-old, this new kid on the block is still working out the kinks common to a restaurant opening. Open seven days per week for both lunch and dinner, Bel Lounge serves up French and Creole cuisine from the West Indies, as well as a broad selection of beverages, including specialty cocktails.
Atmosphere: From the street, Bel Lounge resembles a billiards hall. Upon entering, I nearly expected a sports bar filled with big-screen televisions, pool tables and a jukebox. However, the interior and menu offer pleasant surprises with its four brightly lit dining areas, a cozy bar, patio seating, white table cloths, clean and friendly reception, and fresh, French-inspired food. The one television hangs over the bar and there are no eight balls or pool cues in sight. Business was incredibly slow on a Wednesday night, particularly with a seating capacity of 90, but Bel Lounge has potential with its decent location, jovial staff and quality food.
Drinks: Bel Lounge offers a full bar, stocked with beer, red and white wines, hard liquor, soft drinks, bottled water and Redbull. At $5 apiece, nine different beers are offered, including Amstel Light, Corona (regular and light), Heineken and Guinness. Hob Nob wine is available in nearly every varietal, as well as a few other brands, served by the glass ($6-$8) or bottle ($28-$32), with the exception of the pricier Moet Nectar Imperial ($12/$88). The cocktail special of the night was Godiva Martini, which contains Pisco and Godiva chocolate liqueur ($8.50).
Appetizers: Under the heading “hors d’oeuvres” are the French-inspired starters. They include chicken liver paté ($5.50), seafood croquette ($6) and assiette de fromage aux fruits (cheese plate: camembert, brie, provolone and gorgonzola, $6). Also available are French onion soup ($5.50) and roasted beet salad ($5.50).
Entrées: There are seven hearty, French and Creole-inspired main dishes found in “Les plats principeaux” section, with photos of each featured on the restaurant’s website. Among them are filet mignon (with gratin potato and mushroom sautéed in wine sauce, $22.30), duck margaret (with cous cous pilaf, $19.40) and salmon beurre blanc (served with rice, $18). There are also chicken, lamb and pork dishes available, as well as pasta and rice options for vegetarians. Among the five dishes listed in the seafood section are red snapper au capresse ($18.35) and sea bass bouillabaisse a la Lyonnais ($20.99). Somehow the salmon dish failed to make the ‘seafood’ cut.
Desserts: Of course, crème brûlée ($6.30) tops the dessert list. Also available are white chocolate mousse (with raspberry sauce, $6), bread pudding ($5.50) and two different kinds of fruit tarts (mango and strawberry, $4.85/$5.25). The specialty cocktails, like apple martini ($8) and The Benz (Pisco, Cointreau, lemonade and grenadine, $6.50) are sweet enough to top off a meal, as well.
Lunch Menu: Bel Lounge is open for lunch, 11:30 a.m. - 3 p.m. A light menu offers the classic croque monsieur (hot ham and cheese grilled sandwich, $6.30) and its female counterpart, the croque madame (a croque monsieur topped with a fried or poached egg, $7.30). Also, sliced beef on a French baguette ($7.40) and macaroni aux gratin ($6.50) round out the midday options.
Kids’ Menu: The restaurant’s ‘Bambino Menu’ includes chicken fingers ($5.25), cheeseburger ($4.99), grilled ham and cheese ($4.99), as well as a couple pasta dishes for the kids.
Service: As a new restaurant which seats 90, Bel Lounge is eager to please and its staff enthusiastic about its food and atmosphere. The owner is frequently onsite and has made the business a family affair. His daughters and their cousins help out, which helps add a warm, family element to the dining experience. Everyone is kind, enthusiastic and accommodating.
Contact: 4174 Washington Street, Roslindale
Owner: Lee Gilot
Hours: Monday-Sunday, 11:30am-midnight