Orange County is blessed with an extremely wide variety of dining and drinking establishments. The trick is to come up with something so unique that people will find it interesting to try. At the Globe Dine Bar in Garden Grove, not only are the food and drink reasons to go, but the hospitality of the owners and staff. When you are in a foreign country, you usually expect native born owners. In the case of the Globe Dine Bar, as soon as you step in the door, Belgian natives Michael and Marijke show you what european Hospitality really is. As with any trip to a foreign country, it makes a big difference to have a local tour guide. Instead of feeling that I was in Garden Grove, I was having a leisurely evening in Europe with my local tour guide Michael Pauwels, the proprietor of The Globe Dine Bar. For a few hours, I was dining in a cafe in downtown Antwerp, enjoying the best that Belgium has to offer.
The Globe is on a section of the historic old Main Street in Garden Grove, an area conducive to a leisurely stroll, maybe a bite and a drink and then more strolling. In that sense, it has a European atmosphere where you can spend an evening strolling, eating and drinking. Upon coming to the US in 2009, Michael searched for an area he could feel comfortable in. As he said, “I'd never seen this street before, but thought it was a cute, eclectic Main Street....and it's cute. People have five or six types of businesses that they can have something to eat or drink in and we dare to be different”. .As you walk inside The Globe, you notice plenty of tables, a large bar and an outdoor area to enjoy. The crowd seems friendly and a prompt greeting at the door makes you feel welcome. Dark woods and beautiful wood tables give The Globe a nice, Old World feeling. The crowd is mixed----this is the kind of place where a glance around the room allows you to spot families with babies, 20 to 30 somethings having fun with friends, 40 and ups out on dates or just hanging with friends and even seniors enjoying some of the fine hand-crafted Belgian ales. I bring this up for one reason-------it is one of the few places I have seen in a long time where no one seems uncomfortable. Instead, you can watch at the bar while two people 40 years apart in age discuss the new ales they are drinking. The set up of the tables themselves is unique---each one represents a different country and feeling. Turn around from one table and you will see postcards and maps from Paris. Another might feature Venetian masks and currency, while the next might give you a glimpse of Basque sheepherders in a photograph. Importantly, the décor also reflects the international nature of the food----not just Belgian, but a cross-section of delights from, Spain, France, Germany, Italy and even across the ocean to australia and Argentina.
Michael Pauwels is a passionate man. This is someone who is serious about his beers and ales. As he explained to us, you need the right glass and the right temperature to bring out the best in a beer or ale. Michael personally ensures that each brewery supplies matching glasses for each variety. No glass and he will not bring the beverage into the Globe. It makes sense, too. There is a proper curve to each glass to cup the aroma and a correct thickness to keep the beverage at the optimum temperature. Michael explained that “we behead the beer to leave a nice layer on top. It seals in the flavors, it gets rid of the excess CO2 which can cause headaches”. Not only does Michael choose the beers and ales himself, he makes sure the customer will get as much enjoyment as there is possible from each sip. He definitely has the background to for selecting the Belgian ales. Both Michael and his wife, Marijke were born and raised in Belgium. Both of them grew up in the Belgian restaurant business, eventually emigrating to the U.S. and bringing their European hospitality with them. They spent years working for the Belgian brewery, Stella Artois. They have the Cicerone Certification, the brewer's equivalent of a sommelier.
The food at the Globe Dine Bar points out not only the uniqueness of the Pauwel's concept, but how different it is to live in the culinary world of europe. Crepes, typically thought of as a French dish, are done in a Belgian style. A Neurenberger Brat Sandwich is served on a French baguette. A Gelato sandwich covers a melange of countries, combining Italian gelato, Belgian cookies and using Mexico's delicious dulce de leche as it's base. With their rotating Monthly Specials from different countries, they give even more of a chance to see what countries can have in common.
Dinner began with some of the Belgian draft beers. The St. Bernardous X-Mas, one of the seasonal beers that is brought in, has a dark, heavy look to it. The surprise is the flavor, light, not overly sweet or bitter and with low carbonation.This is a refreshing beer, perfect for accompanying food. The Scaldis was more assertive, a lighter-colored beer but with a very smooth taste. An interesting option also for the beers is to order a flight, four 4-oz. Pours of whichever draught beers you desire. It is an excellent way to see the range of beers that the Globe has. It is also a great way to get the server's suggestions and see which ones they pair with each of the food selections. The eighteen choices of draught beers are changed every month. Every Wednesday they have a new brewmaster beer introduction. According to Michael, there are over 300 Belgian breweries, so he is not worried about running out of different options for quite a while.
For appetizers, there is a wide choice of starters such as Artisan Gouda Cheese Croquettes, Chorizo Empanadas and a Charcuterie Platter. They also have dishes called Hoppas, a weekly list of tapas-type bites to enjoy with the beers. Two of the most interesting items available contain duck. The Duck Confit Crepes are filled with wild mushrooms, sauteed leeks and a delicious duck confit. The Lette Blond Beer crepes make this a packet of goodness. For anyone who is a fan of duck, this has to be one of the best combinations of ingredients around. Everything matches and the meltingly tender leeks blend with the duck to give a wonderful flavor. Another dish, unfamiliar to most but a great example of a shared dish, is the pork and duck rillets with a French baguette. A ramekin of shredded duck and pork is to be spread on the baguette slices. Some of the cooking fat which the meat was cooked in is layered on top of the meat, to either be set aside or else used as a delicious paste on the bread and meat. This rustic form of pate is a dish that is simple but satisfying.
The Globe has a fixed menu as well as Chef's Specials every month, based on a different culinary adventure. In November, Australia is the choice of Chef George Anthony. The Aussie Mixed Grill is a standout----grilled, juicy lemongrass shrimp, char-grilled steak and either a potato gratin or fries. The third protein on this plate is a grilled lamb sausage and it is a standout. Spicy, but yest not too much to overpower the excellent lamb sausage. Lean and yet juicy, the sausage has all the best attributes of a fine house-made sausage. Served along with fresh vegetable, this plate would delight any Aussie.
Short ribs are very common and usually a passable choice at a restaurant, safe and dependable but not outstanding. The Globe's short ribs break this rule. They are cooked to tenderness but not the falling off the bone style that turns many short rib dishes into mush. The au jus is reduced to a glistening syrup that cats the ribs with a wondrous glaze. The Belgian fries, twice cooked in the Belgian style that makes them crispy outside and yet hot and delightfully soft inside, serve as a perfect foil along with sauteed fresh vegetables. The flavor and texture contrasts in this meal make it a must-try version of short ribs.
The menu is not all about meat, however. From the Hoppas on through the main dishes, vegetarian, poultry and fish choices abound, including a market fresh fish of the day. Sandwiches and pizzas also appear. Combined with the Chef's specials, the menu provides something to make everyone happy. Desserts are also available such as a Belgian mousse, and of course a Belgian waffle. Finally, a nice selection of sipping items from espresso to cognac and Scotch is available. Special events also abound, from a daily Happy Hour to Brewmaster's Dinners and an interesting concept called a Walking Dinner, a European concept where diners can eat small portions of a large array of foods, all the time being able to circulate around the restaurant, making new friends and striking up new conversations.
The Globe Dine Bar would be a standout for it's food alone, but that would not be enough for Michael and Marijke. The care that they take in ensuring that the beer experience is unique might be enough to take it that extra step. But what really does it for the Globe Dine Bar is their emphasis on the European dining experience. At the Globe, the staff seems to truly want to make every visit a memorable one.As Michael told me, “You're not a number for us. We like to get to know all of our guests”. He emphasized that in Europe, a night out is not just dinner, but a social thing and an important way to relax. After the first few minutes in the Globe, the only thing you will miss about a special European dining experience is the plane ticket.
The Globe Dine Bar
12926 (Historic) Main Street
Garden Grove, CA 92840