Belgian Snack Bar ‘Freetjes’ Opens in Federal Hill 

| May 22, 2024 | 0 Comments

Veteran Chef Bernard Dehaene has opened a new Belgian snack bar concept called Freetjes at 1448 Light St. in Federal Hill. The storefront was the former home of Smoking Joe’s BBQ. 

Dehaene is a native of Belgium and has owned several Maryland restaurants including Corner BYOB, The Other Corner Charcuterie Bar, and Chuck’s Trading Post in Hampden, as well as Mannequin Pis in Olney. 

Dehaene told he was forced to sell his restaurants because of health issues. But, he’s excited to come back with Freetjes, a concept he hopes to franchise in the future.

Freetjes is a play on words combining the Belgian word for French fries “frietjes” and the American term “freedom fries.” As the name implies, fries will be the star of the show at Freetjes. 

Dehaene needs the correct electrical capacity to be installed in the kitchen to run his Belgian-imported fryers and he expects that work to be completed in the coming weeks. Looking to get the restaurant open as soon as possible, he is currently in a soft opening phase with a menu of loaded baked potatoes. 

The current baked potato menu features an assortment of toppings including bacon, flank steak, duck confit, Belgian beer beef, meatballs, prosciutto, knockwurst, whole lobster, smoked salmon, and vegetarian options such as brie cheese with nuts and cranberries.

The menu also features a Belgian dessert waffle with Belgian chocolate, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, and sprinkles.

The loaded fries on the full menu will have all kinds of “snacks” and homemade sauces to put on top of the fries. For $15, Freetjes will offer fries, a snack, a salad, and a soda. The fries will be cooked in Dehaene’s custom blend of pure vegetable oil. They will be served in cone-shaped cardboard containers.

Freetjes will continue to serve the most popular loaded baked potatoes when the full menu launches.

Freetjes serves glass bottles of soda including Coca-Cola, Sprite, and Fanta Orange.

It will be a mostly-carryout restaurant, but there are a few counter spaces for customers wanting to dine-in.

Freetjes is open Wednesday and Thursday from 3pm to 11pm, Friday and Saturday from 3pm to 1am, and Sunday from 11am to 9pm.

Dehaene said he’d like to add lunch hours in the future depending on demand. He also hopes to add a beer and wine license to serve his favorite Belgian beer Delirium Tremens.

Jeff Schatz is the general manager of Freetjes, and Dehaene’s small dog Lucky Lou will be a staple at the restaurant.

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