Petite Abeille ("Little Bee", just above the head of Tintin's statue in the photo) is one of a handful of Belgian restaurants in NYC. I'm not sure many people even realize it is Belgian; most probably assume it is French. For me though, the Tintin theme is enough to know Petite Abeille is in fact a Belgian restaurant. And yeah, the waffles, mussels, and extensive Belgian beer selection as well.
You could be forgiven for not knowing who Tintin is. Created by the Belgian artist Georges Remi (better known as Herge), our favorite journalist (who doesn't seem to do much writing) cum detective stars in one of the most successful comic strip series ever ("The Adventures of Tintin"), and is surely the most popular Belgian comics character. Aided by his faithful dog Snowy and friends Captain "Billions of Blistering Barnacles" Haddock and Professor Calculus (Tournesol in the French version), Tintin goes all over the world and dons numerous disguises in his pursuit of bad guys.
I'm not quite sure why the Tintin comics strip isn't that well-known in the United States; hardly anyone I talk to is familiar with it. Nonetheless, Tintin occupies a special place in the history of Belgian comics and is prominently featured in the Comics Strip Center in Brussels, which I was lucky enough to visit. Click here for some pictures and a video of Professor Calculus. Moreover, there are Tintin retail outlets in Brussels and Bruges selling apparel, bags, and other merchandise related to our hero's adventures.
Oh, back to Petite Abeille. During my meals there either at brunch or dinner time, the food has always been excellent, and the staff accommodating. The mussels never fail to disappoint, and I'm always happy to pair a Trappist beer with the food. Petite Abeille has four branches scattered all over Manhattan, and while other Belgian restaurants also offer the same dishes and beers, no place feels quite as Belgian as Petite Abeille.
G.U.S. NITPICKS!! (v. 22): CALDERON COCINA TAPAS Y BESIDAS - I had heard some buzz of late regarding the newly-opened CALDERON Spanish tapas resto in San Juan, and was keen to check it out. Subsequently, i made...