How European is Si Bon Belgian Bistro in Rancho Mirage? For starters, chef/owner Philippe Caupain and his wife, Edith, have chosen to label all the ingredient bins in the kitchen in French. There are the two clocks in the restaurant—one on local time, one on Brussels time. Street scenes from the home country adorn the walls of the eatery’s well-lit main room, and Johannes Vermeer reproductions (including the master’s famed “Girl with a Pearl Earring”) hang in the dimmer bar. Then there’s the food…
My appetite—and propensity to try anything from rabbit to rattlesnake, kiwi to kohlrabi—are well known, so an extensive menu like Si Bon’s was actually a hindrance to my quick dining decision-making skills. What to pick…? Do I start with the Dungeness Crab Ravioli with Lemongrass Sauce? Or do I go for the Pan-Fried Sweetbreads with Shitake Mushroom Sauce? Ultimately I chose the 9-Holer Escargot Waffle, savoring every drop of garlicky butter soaked into the delectably crisp (Belgian, of course) waffle.
Choosing between the many delicious-sounding main courses was even more difficult. Gulf Shrimp Fettuccini. Slow Roasted Duck. Fried Buttermilk Shelton Chicken. Grilled Hanger Steak. Angus Filet Tartare. Beer Braised Beef Short Ribs (served with Belgian Fries). Pan-Fried Scallops with Quinoa Risotto. Lobster Chopped Salad. Veal Wiener Schnitzel. Pan-Fried Sand Dabs. Sautéed Veal Liver. Talk about an embarrassment of European riches! I settled on the Seafood Waterzooi, a non-tomato-based seafood stew with lobster, scallops, shrimp, and whitefish. Delicious!
The wine list boasts bottles rarely found in other local cellars, with such winners as La Crema, Trefethen, and Patz & Hall Chardonnays—not to mention a Frog’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon and an Elk Cove Pinot Noir—all available by the glass, a welcome rarity.
After a great meal—which included savoring nibbles of my friends’ selections—dessert sounded like overkill. Thankfully our very capable server Arturo convinced us that sharing a single order of a Belgian waffle topped with pastry cream, fresh fruit, and a dollop of whipped cream was the perfect sweet finish. He was 100% right. So let yourself be gastronomically transported to a Brussels Grand Place café with the delights of Si Bon, which is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. www.sibon-sogood.com