700 W. Pete Rose Way
In the summer of 1985 I broadened my little world by backpacking around Europe by myself. Not that I remained alone for very long because I met a kindred spirit in Jenny, a wild child from Flagstaff who worked as a Grand Canyon tour guide. She and I hit off immediately and over many pints of bitter in some London pub it was decided that we should travel together. The pair of us managed to find a lot of trouble to get into along the way – from being hung over and retching in the bushes of Buckingham Palace to falling out of a gondola into the murky, stinking waters of Venice, to dancing with members of the Swiss National Guard on an apartment rooftop in the Alps, we had a very memorable summer.
Neither of us had much cash so rather than spend our beer money on Eurorail tickets and hotels, we opted to travel by bus, sleep in austere Youth Hostels and eat as cheaply as possible. This meant lots of fruit, crepes and French fries – and the best fries I’ve ever had were in Brussels and Amsterdam. Called “vlaamse frites,” these were much hardier than the typical American fry and came with a creamy mayonnaise dipping sauce. We couldn’t get enough of them.
When I heard about Eddy’s Belgian Bistro from a friend at WOXY, I made the trek over to historic Longworth Hall to see for myself whether or not their “frites” lived up to the name. The restaurant is owned by a biking enthusiast and is named after famous Belgian cyclist Eddy Merckx. It is quick-serve and their 8 a.m.-3 p.m. hours reflect the office crowd ensconced inside the former Baltimore & Ohio freight terminal. To find Eddy's, head for the long banners flapping in the breeze about a third of the way down the building, signposting the building's entrance. Eddy's is just to the left - look for the stone tables out front.
My first visit didn’t bode well – they’d already sold out of the frites when I arrived, but on the other hand it must mean they are good, right? Perusing the chalkboard menu, I noticed that they didn’t have anything vegetarian listed on the menu, but I was told that they could make a wrap filled with veggies if I wanted one. The wrap was good but extremely messy because the sandwich maker went a bit nuts with the ranch dressing – I’m willing to wager that the wrap had a least a half cup of dressing dumped on it, and it oozed out everywhere.
I finally got around to revisiting Eddy’s last week and was pleased to find that they now list a veggie wrap on their menu, but word of warning - they are still heavy-handed with the dressing. If you don’t want to wear it, request that they go easy with it, or omit it entirely.
The main attraction, however, is the frites, and although they aren't true vlaamse frites, they aren't bad. Cut long and thick, the frites look very much like their Belgian brethren, and the creamy chipotle mayonnaise is an excellent accompaniment. Unfortunately I found them to be a little too greasy to be proper vlaamse frites, which is probably because the fry cook tried to fry too many at a time. The secret to good vlaamse frites is to cut them to one centimeter thick and fry only a few at a time. Eddy’s are also served in a basket rather than in the traditional paper cone, so the grease doesn’t drain away like it should. I didn't find the frites to be very different from those served at Penn Station, but the addition of the chipotle mayo does lend a nice Belgian touch.
The area around Longworth Hall isn't the most attractive - it's situated in the industrial Queensgate area - but it's easily walkable from downtown and once you've passed the multitude of parking lots under the tangle of highway overpasses at Central Avenue you are greeted with an interesting array of artwork (see below) on the grounds of the massive red brick building, which at over a quarter mile long is still one of the longest buildings in the country and is on the National Register of Historic Places.