Recommendations for Brussels
Posted 27 May 2002 - 05:29 AM
Posted 20 August 2002 - 11:03 AM
Posted 20 August 2002 - 02:16 PM
is to get a bucket of mussels and drink beers for hours There was
a decent French restaurant closeby from our hotel (whose name escapes me for the moment, will update once I find it ) which was fairly decent.
Posted 20 August 2002 - 02:58 PM
Let me add a note about Aux Armes de Bruxelles. Located just a block off the Grand Place at the intersection of two streets chockablock with tourist restaurants is Aux Armes de Bruxelles. It's a reasonably priced brasserie/restaurant, although it's nowhere nearly as cheap as its neighbors. I've been told that the neighboring restaurants are to be avoided, but I can't offer first hand evidence. Aux Armes, however, is an institution to be sought out. We both ordered the anguilles au vert (18 EUR) and I cannot vouch for the rest of the menu, although food around me looked appetizing. Anyway, the eels in a green herb (parsley) sauce were superb and a memorable dish for me.
This is by no means in a class near Comme Chez Soi where we also ate, but I felt those traditional eels were a compelling dish. Whether or not I consider it special might depend on context and your interests. Orignal thread. We were led to another place (Le Passage, av. J&P Carsoel 13) that was quite interesting and an very good buy, but were driven there by friends. It's in an outlying residential neighborhood.
Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.
My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.
Posted 21 August 2002 - 05:06 AM
Posted 29 August 2002 - 07:35 AM
Not cheap, but very good food and excellent service.
Any ideas on the name?
Posted 02 September 2002 - 12:12 PM
Posted 03 September 2002 - 01:01 AM
Posted 03 September 2002 - 02:25 PM
And contrary to popular belief, it IS very possible to have a bad meal in Brussels. Personally, I can't stand the city. If you want to learn about the true heart of the Belgian people, get thee out of the capital!
Posted 03 September 2002 - 02:54 PM
Only on this occasion, we're hacking back from Bremen on our way to Calais and Brussels is a logical stop on the motorway system. It is very difficult to find a decent hotel in either Bruges or Gent that has less than a mandatory two night stay at the weekend and those that do charge more than I am prepared to pay. You're quite right about getting out from Brussels, one of my top 5 meals ever was in an auberge (I think some kind of converted water mill) about 10 km outside Dinant. As for Brussels I've had about 10 meals there over the years and haven't had a bad one yet, and one or three were outstanding.
It's really too bad you are restricted to Brussels.
As for Bruges Der Gouden Harynck also rates in the top 5 - their "Menu Surprise" was a tour de force. Gent is on the tour list for next year.
Posted 25 October 2002 - 09:56 AM
Any suggestions for particular dishes, or any things worth knowing about in advance ?
Posted 30 October 2002 - 05:00 AM
My party of four arrived at the pleasantly discreet entrance of the restaurant, and even as we entered the front door there was an immediate air of old-fashioned graciousness about the style of the door and hallway. Through a second brass-furnished door and we were greeted by Laurence Rigolet, daughter of the owners, and escorted immediately to our table. The dining room is amazing, a mixture of art nouveau and art decor, exquisitely stylish. The table was long and narrow, of dimensions I have never seen in a restaurant, but in fact perfectly designed to provide ample width for full place settings, while also allowing us to converse across the table comfortably. The one "issue" was that tables were butted almost against one another, so that the table had to be pulled right out to allow two people to sit on the wall banquette, after which those two were trapped. I was glad we had an end table, and the adjacent one was empty.
The service was very correct, if somewhat surly and unsmiling. The head waiter was totally unresponsive to friendly witticism, seemed unwilling to explain some of the complexities of the menus and carte, struggled a little to understand the order (that was not a language problem), and was quite disinclined to provide a wine list until after all the food orders had been taken and despatched to the kitchen (which I found irritating, and also disrupted our conversation later). The waiters were discreet and efficient. So overall, the service was disappointing. But the food and wine .....
We all ordered a la carte. One of the puzzling features was that over half of the main courses were for two people. I understand this for maybe a rack of hare or some beef dishes, but surely not for medallions of venison and gurnard and octopus ? Ah well.... This was a busines lunch, so I can't report on the meals of the other three (except to say they were highly delighted with everything).
We were served with a few canapes (pleasant) and an amuse of mussels in a tomato sauce (which I didn't eat).
My starter was wood-pigeon mousse, which was a large brown cylindrical object in the centre of a large plate, with a tiny diamond of pear on redcurrant sauce on the side. Frankly, it looked clumsy and unappealing ... until I tasted it. The word I'm looking for is magnificent. The taste was sublime, a subtle flavour of pigeon with the slightest edge of (I think) lemon, and the texture was perfect --- not fluffy or slimy or chunky --- just perfect. When I had finished, the waiter delivered a second helping, spooned from a large bowl. I would have finished the bowl given half a chance.
With the starter we drank a Pouilly Fume, Chateau Tracey 2000. This is an old favourite of mine, which I used to buy regularly from a friend who was the sole importer of Tracey into the UK. Lovely crisp, light wine.
My main course was "Crispy roundles of venison with dry fruit and a light sauce of juniper, fried wild mushrooms and Brussels sprouts" which I shared with a guest. This is now officially the most perfect single dish I have ever eaten, replacing the lamb chops at Babbo. We were not asked how we wanted the venison cooked (good for them!) and it came rare and bloody. The meat (which was roe-deer) was served as three elliptical roundels about 4 inches long and 2.5 inches wide and 1.5 inches deep. Crispy on the outside, sprinkled with light herbs, and mouth-meltingly tender inside. The flavour was just superb, not a strong gamey flavour. There was a portion of long-grain rice in the dish (not shown on the menu) which was perfectly cooked, the mushrooms (porcini I think) were fabulous, the brussel sprouts (well we werein the right city to get those) were wonderful even though they're not normally a favoured vegetable of mine, and the juniper sauce complemented the venison perfectly. Every single element of this dish was as perfect as it could be, and as a whole dish I can only describe it as (pace Michael Winner) historic. Again, I eagerly accepted the second helping of a couple of additional roundels of meat.
The chef, Pierre Wynants (father-in-law of Laurence Rigolet) came into the dining room to enquire if all was well. I was genuinely disappointed that I couldn't do more than utter some fulsome compliments --- I would have loved to talk to him about the dishes, but I was with business guests.
Our wine was a St Julien, Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou 1994, which was decanted (at their suggestion) and was absolutely splendid. A lightly woody flavour, smooth and rich. My two guests (both French and both "into" wine) remarked on the excellence of this wine.
My dessert was orange pancakes with burnt sugar. That prosaic description does not do it justice. The crepes were perfectly cookerd, neither dry nor soggy, the ornage flavouring neither too strong nor bland, and the edges crisp with burnt sugar, made this a delightful dish.
We all ended with espresso coffee. Amazingly, this was the only offering -- no "regular" coffee and no cafetiere. The petits fours (which normally I would not even have noticed) were wonderful, and I gorged on them. Sadly, I intended to ask for a box to bring home, but I forgot. As we left, Therese Wynants wished us adieu. The bill, including the 16% service charge they added on (funny number, but they are Belgian) was 646 euros.
Altogether, this was a superb and memorable dining experience, and one I shall definitely repeat at the earliest possible opportunity.
Posted 30 October 2002 - 07:06 AM
Posted 10 December 2002 - 05:23 PM
Posted 11 December 2002 - 02:24 AM
How long depends on the time of day, we stayed at the radisson sas (btw v cheap on the weekend for standard of accom, check expedia.com, also houses the 2* sea grill which my belgian sommelier friend rates v highly).
it took over 1/2 an hour to get from the station to the hotel in friday rush hour but about 10 mins sunday morning to return. hotel to Comme chez soi was about 10 mins on sat night.
Posted 11 December 2002 - 02:26 AM
Posted 11 December 2002 - 08:23 AM
Edited by cabrales, 11 December 2002 - 08:23 AM.
Posted 11 December 2002 - 08:45 AM
Posted 11 December 2002 - 09:02 AM
the sea grill does appear worth a trip too.
Food was good where i dined but bruxelles itself i found a bit dull.
Posted 12 December 2002 - 10:49 AM
My plans to visit all of the three stars in Belgium (I think there are only three) over a weekend have been foiled by the X'Mas closing period of Comme de Chez Soi.
... De Karmeliet or Bruneau? (Note I have three meals, so these two are not mutually exclusive as to each other, or as to Comme de Chez Soi)
I have reservations at Bruneau (probably two meals), and a choice of one of the following:
(1) Secured table at Guy Savoy, Paris (which I have visited several times, but which offers a dish of "lamb in all its states" on which BLH reported and which is somewhat interesting to me).
(2) Secured table at De Karmeliet, Bruges (less than one hour by train from Brussels; likely my choice), or
(3) Wait list at Comme de Chez Soi, Brussels (no availability currently, even at the table d'hote).
What are members' views on De Karmeliet for sure versus Comme de Chez Soi on wait-list?
Gary -- Non-food activities do not matter at all. I can't have two significant meals a day as readily as I could even a year ago (hope it's temporary). But in Belgium, I will try attempt that. By the time I've napped after lunch, it's dinner. By the time I wake up the next day and get ready, it's time for lunch.
Edited by cabrales, 12 December 2002 - 10:56 AM.
Posted 12 December 2002 - 06:10 PM
Posted 12 December 2002 - 06:27 PM
Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.
Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.
Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak
Posted 12 December 2002 - 10:58 PM
soi, to visit Belgium in 1989. Unfortunately, while celebrating my birthday at Docks on Third Avenue about a month before we were supposed to leave, I had a very serious gall bladder attack while savoring the key lime pie. The gastroenterologist I soon visited advised me to cancel the trip and recommended surgery, speaking words I have never forgotten: "Bon vivants can't have gall bladders, Mr. L."
Posted 13 December 2002 - 12:14 PM
Also, is the Christmas Market in Brussels (generally in the Grand'Place area) worth visiting, for food items?
Edited by cabrales, 13 December 2002 - 12:15 PM.
Posted 07 August 2003 - 11:30 AM
The wine list is terribly expensive: wine that I drink at home for 6 €, they offer for 50 € a bottle. In any case, there is no bottle of simple wine below 50 €...
I prefer Bruneau*** in Brussels or De Karmeliet*** in Bruges, although Sea Grill** in Brussels remains my favourite.
Posted 18 May 2004 - 09:50 AM
Just wanted to say I was in Brussels over the weekend, and for dinner on Friday, Emma and I ended up in Vismet, a fish restaurant in the Ste Catherine part of town? Food was lovely - I had the cod ravioli in a sauce antiboise to start, and my main was fillets of bream, served in its aniseedy marinade, with fennel, carrots and what looked like a wet pilav.
The ravioli were light and silky, and I think it may even have been a salt cod filling, since the stuffing did have an extra flavour. My bream though was wonderful, had obviously been gently cooked to keep it tender and succulent, but with a fresh clean flavour.
Emma had the prawn croquante and the solettes as her main - and both pronounced to be delicious.
If you're worshipping at the temple of gastronomy that is Comme Chez Soi then this won't knock your socks off - but for good and well cooked fish - this is certainly worth a visit.
Posted 09 July 2004 - 06:27 AM
We got there mid-evening and were able to sit outside and enjoy the sun - it wasn't overly busy. My girlfriend had a mackeral tartare with a beetroot puree. The dish was the best of the meal with bold flavours that worked well. I had a little more trouble selecting a starter - two of my choices weren't available - including the ravioli. However I was able to have an octopus and mango salad which was light and fresh.
For mains I had poached sea-ray (I hope my translation is correct ) with an assortment of vegetables and a caper based sauce. It was delicate and good. My girlfriend had John Dory with a tomato and basil broth. It was good but she felt that the flavours were wrong for this time of the year - it was almost too heavy. Dessert was a white cheese cake.
As noted, its not in the Comme Chez Soir league but for a mid-range restaurant its not bad.
We also went to another place following another recommendation from a separate thread. Will post comment on this shortly.
Posted 03 August 2004 - 06:05 AM
• La Canne en Ville – rue de la Réforme 1, 02/3472926 on a recent visit we started with "Le demi homard rôti au beurre à la moutarde" and "La poêlée de coquilles Saint-Jacques au beurre Nantais, compotée de coeurs d'artichauts et de tomates séchées" both of which were €17 on the carte. This was followed by "Le chateaubriand rôti et sa garniture de légumes, sauce béarnaise et moutarde, gratin dauphinois ou pomme en chemise" (€50 pour 2 cvts.) The wine was a Bandol 2000 Moulin des Costes and cost €34 – it's a well structured powerful red, some tannins but with cherry and plum flavours - it was good value and went well with the beef. The wine list is short, well chosen and good value with little over €40. The only place I have ever found a recommendation for this very dependable restaurant is on the Economist website.
• Toucan Brasserie – Ave Louis Lepoutre 1, 02/3453017 –short well chosen wine list, strong on magnums – Lynch Bages seems to be a particular favourite of the patron (but it also includes a few less expensive wines from associated properties with a dependable (if mundane) Michel Lynch at €22. Recent dinner included a great Cassolette de chipirons au piment d'Espelette which is a regular feature of the carte. Chef is a Breton but draws freely on other influences. The menu includes bistro classics like jambonneau roti but also originals like mille feuille de thon a la ventrèche et fondue de poireaux.
• Aux Beaumes de Venise, rue Darwin 62, 02/3453017 – on a quiet street just off Place Brugmann, run by a pleasant North African couple who have created a calm, professional restaurant which always aims for correct standards. It has a sparkle which comes from application to detail – including table settings and general décor. The staff members are efficient, knowledgeable and unobtrusive. You can choose across 4 menus at around €40 which usually include foie gras en torchon or oysters – the overall style is refined modern French with a light hand. The sommelier is knowledgeable and helpful. This restaurant is slightly more formal than some of the other suggestions and would be suitable for a business lunch.
• La Crèche des artistes, rue de al Crèche, 02/3438293 – some of the better Italian restaurants outside Italy are in Belgium. This one is small, on a scruffy back street near Ixelles town hall (Brussels has lots of scruffy back streets but sometimes that's were the best restaurants are) but as soon as you walk through the door you know you have not come to the wrong address. Specials of the day are on a blackboard and food is fresh and seasonal. The wine list is just an album of labels, well thumbed and particularly strong on Tuscans. Athmosphere is romantic and intimate – particularly if you go for the house dessert speciality. This is a zabaglione - prepared in a copper saucepan when is then placed on the table with two long spoons. Occasionally the service and food can be a little uneven but any lapses are balanced by the relaxed charm of the place.
• La Table de Mamy, ave des Cerisiers, 02/7790096 – small, unpretentious place which draws inspiration from local domestic family cooking but with a slightly sophisticated veneer. "Le pain de veau de Laurent" is really a meat loaf, but like no other I have eaten – I'm not sure who Laurent is in this case but perhaps it's a reference to the eponymous Belgian crown price. The rest of the menu is in a similar vein and the short wine list is good on regional French wines, particularly Languedoc. The formula here is that of simple dishes prepared to a very high level – on the same evening, my entrée was fricassee de champignons a l'ail avec croutons.
• Chez Marie, rue Alphonse de Witte 40, 02/6443031 – hidden away on a difficult to find street near Place Flagey. The area seems permanently disrupted by road works – if arriving by taxi, alight at the renovated Belgian Radio building (an interesting 1930's "steamship style" building which has recently been renovated and has a useful cultural programme) and walk by the left hand side of the church. Last year they justifiably received a star from Michelin but the lunch menu is still around €15 (is there a less expensive one star meal anywhere?). Carte is much more expensive and the wine list can easily seduce you into spending more than intended although in fairness even the more expensive wines are good value by usual restaurant standards. Alas, the decently priced Mas de Daumas Gassac seems to have disappeared for the moment. The charming sommelier, a very well informed French Canadian will however guide you through some of the less well known bottles and his advice is good – but he's not always on duty at lunch time. At least in this instance, Michelin has shown a willingness to recognise creativity and it's really worth going for some of the more surprising titles –"hamburger en hommage a McDonalds"! – which are not always exactly what you might expect. This restaurant is popular and rather intimate (for some this translates as overcrowded). Some might find the absence of a no-smoking area to be a drawback.
• De la Vigne a l'Assiette, rue de la Longue Haie 51, 02/6476803 – from outside this looks rather basic, perhaps even severe but the simple decor hides a real gem. The quality of the food is high and the presentation is both unexpected and polished. A confit de canard came with what looked like a crème anglais but was more like a light savoury sabayon prepared with olive oil – although this sounds a little over rich, it worked well in practice. The wine list is however what makes a meal here memorable. The patron/sommelier has put together a list which includes many French regional wines which will be unknown to most –but he is happy to explain and guide. The name of the restaurant may possibly contain an element of tribute to Georges Blanc but I have never had the pleasure of eating at any of his tables, it's impossible to say if this is reflected in the food.
• Senza Nome, rue Royale Sainte Marie 22, 02/2231617. Italian with a Michelin star, somewhat expensive (it was someone else's treat) but the Branzino alla Siciliana was sensational.
• Others which could be added to this list of personal favourites are En Face du Parachute, Les Dames Tartines, Le Doux Wazoo, Bleu de Toi and Ciao. The latter is a serious Italian restaurant, considered by some to be the best in Brussels and can be rather expensive.
Any comments, feedback or other recommendations would be welcome.
Posted 23 August 2004 - 03:00 PM