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Brussels/Amsterdam Restaurant Recommendations


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Almost as we speak, Robert Buxbaum is, I believe, in Brussels and will certainly chime in about Comme Chez Soi, the city's top-rated restaurant. I have no recommendations as I haven't been in Brussels for several years. I can tell you that sons and daughters of "diamantiers" like to spout off that the restaurants in Belgium are better than the ones in France. Anyone who has spent time in both countries knows how patently ridiculous such utterances are. As for Amsterdam. another place I haven't been to in a few years, it always struck me as a difficult restaurant city. I always enjoyed buying the new herrings from street vendors. However, the season for that is, I believe, only May. Indiginous Dutch food is near the bottom of the food chain in my opinion. However, Indonesian food I have always found to be more enjoyable, and though I suspect, like Thai food, that it doesn't travel all that well, places like Samo Sebo and Bali are fun for riestafel or nasi goring. Otherwise sea food is probably your best bet in both places. And in a pinch the "brooje" or sandwich shops in A'dam will do as a cheap meal. Perhaps there are some new places I don't know about, but I can tell you that the well-known Ooster Bar (sp.?) and "Five Fleas" are nothing special, though the former I remember as quite okay and fun to go to. Othewise, "Calling all ex-hippies: Can you help this guy out?

(Edited by robert brown at 11:06 pm on Nov. 6, 2001)

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Hi! Bradley

The ramen shop, Yamato, in Brusselles, is one of

the best-reputed among ramen shops found outside

of Japan. If I were in Europe, I would never fail to visit.

Please let me hear your review if you have a chance to

try.

Name:Yamato

Address:Rue Francart 11, Bruxelles

Tel:02-502-28-93                                            

Days Off:Sun, Mon

Business hours:12:00-14:00, 19:00-22:00  Sat. 18:30-21:30  

(Edited by BON at 10:53 am on Nov. 7, 2001)

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I tried Christophe in Amsterdam, website is www.christophe.nl. It has a Michelin star, was expensive and in the mould of The Fat Duck to a certain extent but nowhere near as experimental, or as good. If I had the opportunity again, as much as I enjoyed the meal, I would try Cafe Roux at the Grand hotel http://www.thegrand.nl/, which is a fair bit cheaper and is a lovely room.  

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Hell, if only I had read Bon's post in time. My wife was dying for a bowl of Japanese noodles for lunch in Paris, but it wasn't what I wanted and the shops we passed didn't look good enough to dissuade me from preferring a sandwich. We found internet access next door to our hotel in Brussels, but had so little time, I barely read a few posts in my eGullet French section.

As for my findings in Belgium, I am impressed by the cluster of stars in the Belgian Michelin, but I share Robert Brown's opinion that restaurants in France may be better. Two days in Antwerp and two more in Brussels hardly qualifies me as an expert however. I will say that the single bowl of mussels I had in Antwerp, at a brasserie not even listed by Michelin but recommended by friends living in Antwerp were better than just about any bowl of mussels I've had in New York, Paris or Brittany in recent history. For those traveling to Antwerp, this particular place is across the square from the cathedral and its name is Schaduw von de Kathedraal. We had large well flavored and exceptionally plump clean mussels. The fries were so-so. Can't comment on the rest of the food there. Good tap beer. I had a glass of local Palm beer. It was a nice amber beer and came with an incredibly creamy head. Although everyone, or so it seems, speaks English in Antwerp--in fact we had considerable evidence that the Dutch speak to the local Flemish population in English to be better understood as the local dialect is so different from the Dutch spoken in the Netherlands that English often proves to be the common language--we found ourselves for once, a bit disoriented when looking for a place to eat. Many places do not post menus, or only post them in Flemish so it's difficult to know exactly what sort of place, or type of food they have. Waiters are invariably polite and helpful, and never did we have a waiter who was not fluent in English.

Comme Chez Soi is a member of the prestigious Les Grandes Tables du Monde, probably the best known Belgian restaurant, and a Michelin three star restaurant, although only one of several for such a small country. Les Grandes Tables du Monde whose NYC members are Le Cirque, la Grenouille, Daniel and Le Bernardin has always struck me as a group more concerned with luxury than food although most of its members are great temples of gastronomy as well. Nevertheless, I was struck by the rather intimate setting, general lack of space between tables and service that was fine, but not in Ducasse's league. For example, requests for bottles of water were forgotten. There are several rooms. When my wife told me she had, upon being asked, chosen the no smoking room, I thought "kiss of death." Belgium makes France seem like a smoke free zone. While I can't speak about the other rooms, our table was in the part of the restaurant that occupies a space designed by Horta, the great Brussels art nouveau architect. Accepting the scale and intimacy, it was a beautiful space. I'd have to say that it was a treat just to be able to eat in that space. That the food was as good as it was, was icing on the cake. With memory of dinner at Ducasse the week before still in our minds, it is perhaps unfair to say we thought our meal was less impressive than expected.

It's often easier and sometimes both safer and more interesting to choose a menu than to order à la carte when dining in a new restaurant. Here there were three menus, a 139 EUR six course and two four course menus at 62 & 98 EUR, each with some choice of courses. We settled on the 98 EUR menu largely on the basis that it was only four courses--after all our indulgences of the past two weeks--and because it featured wild hare à la bécasse albeit at a 12 EUR per person supplement. Le foie gras d'oie truffé, en terrine at another supplement of 9 EUR per person was fine, but virtually ungarnished. Perhaps more would have been gilding the lilly, but that's what I often expect three star restaurants to do. The filet of brill with tomato coulis came with an unexpected cream sauce and the diced tomatoes were less than deep red and less than fully flavored, although the brill in cream sauce with a few tiny clams and mussels would have stood on its own. The hare was sensational and a dish we'll long remember and crave. I'm not exactly sure how dishes à la bécasse are prepared, but I know that bécasse (woodcock) is often, or usually, prepared without being drawn. We've had pigeon à la bécasse and as with our wild rabbit, the sauce was rich and thick. I suspect both liver and blood as thickening agents. When asked how we wanted our meat cooked, rosé was suggested. My request to have it towards the bloody side was met with a friendly shake of the head signifying "no," but when the meat arrived, we found it exactly to our like. In fact I had not realized how red hare could be. I forget my wife's dessert, but I had a chocolate cake that was almost like a terrine with three intensities of chocolate and some marzipan.

The bill came to 370 EUR with 2 glasses of Clos Laberre Sauternes, a bottle of Clape Cornas (great with the hare, not exactly a match with the fish in cream sauce) two small bottles of sparkling water and 2 cups of espresso. That includes service and tax, although it's not uncommon to add a few percent more as a tip. I'd return.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

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.

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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 instuttion 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.

Right on the Grand Place is 'T Kelderke, good enough for a lunch. I had boudins entre ciel et terre (9.30 EUR) which I saw on other menus as well. It turned out to be both white sausage and blood sausage. It came with hot apple sauce and the ubiquitous frites. Very good boudin blanc and excellent boudin noir. So-so fries and apple sauce. My wife's salade with warm rabbit liver (8.06 EUR) was less successful as the liver was overcooked.

Of course if you give in to temptation of waffles and fries from street stands, you may never have to eat in a restaurant in Brussels. No shortage of chocolate shops as well.

(Edited by Bux at 1:23 pm on Nov. 16, 2001)

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

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.

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  • 2 years later...

These are all the restaurants I have been to in Brussels the last couple of years.

My notations are for the food only and on a scale of 20. The stars are Michelin stars.

Those in red I can certainly recommend; those in red and bold are my favorites.

Alban Chambon, L' - Hotel Métropole [14]

Alain Cornelis [11,5]

Aloyse Kloos * [14] (Hoeilaart)

Astrid chez Pierrot [11,5]

Atrium - SAS-hotel [13]

Avenue - André D'haese, The [14]

Balade Gourmande, La [13]

Barbizon * [14] (Overijse)

Belga Queen [11]

Bleu de Toi [10]

Bon-Bon * [14,5/20]

Brasseries Georges [11,5]

Brouette, La * [12]

Bruneau * * * [18]

Bijgaarden, De * * [15,5] (Groot-Bijgaarden)

Chalet de la Forêt, Le [15,5]

Chez Marie * [13]

Claude Dupont * * [16]

Clef des Champs, La [13]

Cochon d'Or, Au [12]

Colomba d'Oro, La [10,5]

Comme chez moi [12]

Comme chez soi * * * [16,5]

Crustacés, Les [11]

Dames Tartine, Les [13]

Da-Kao [9]

Davi [10]

Deux Maisons, Les * [14,5]

Diable Vauvert, Au [11]

Ecole Buissonnière, L' [8]

Ecuyer, L' [9]

El Metteko [10]

Epicerie, L' - Hotel Méridien [14]

Fin de siècle [11,5]

Gazebo, The [12,5]

Gourmandin, Le [13,5]

Herbe Rouge, L' [12/20]

Idiot du Village, L' [11,5]

In 't Spinnekopke [10]

Intermezzo, L' [10,5]

J & B [13]

Kan'H [9]

Katja's Kitchen [11]

Larmes du Tigre, Les [11,5]

Lunch Company, The [11,5]

Maison du Boeuf, La - Hilton Hotel * [15]

Maison de Maître, La - Conrad Hotel [14]

Mamounia, La [11]

Manufacture, La [10,5]

Michel * [14,5]

Ming Dynasty [11]

Mirante, Pizzeria [10,5]

Ommegang [12,5]

Orangeraie Roland Debuyst, L' * [15] (Nossegem)

Orphyse Chaussette [12,5]

Pain et le Vin, Le * [12,5]

Pain Quotidien, Le [11]

Passage, Le * [15]

Pathé Palace [10]

Pêché Mignon, Le - Brussel [10,5]

Petit Boxeur, Le [11]

Petits Oignons, Les [12]

Piero, Da [11]

Plattesteeen [10]

pré en bulle, le [14]

Quatre Saisons, Les [13,5]

Quincaillerie, La [13]

Recherche du Temps perdu, A la [13]

Roma [12]

Rosa [11,5]

Roue d'Or, La [12,5]

Sea Grill - SAS-hotel * * [18]

Sirène d'Or, La [11]

Totem [11]

Tour D'y Voir, La [11,5]

Truffe Noire, La * [13]

Vierge Noire, La [12]

Vieux Boitsfort, Au * [14]

Vigne… à l'Assiette, De la [13]

Villa d'Este [14]

Villa Lorraine * [13,5]

Vismet [11]

White Room, The [12]

Zerda [11,5]

Edited by paulbrussel (log)
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  • 2 years later...

Just a bump for this thread to ask Paul if he's updated this list somewhere recently. My wife will be going to Brussels and Antwerp next week or so and is looking for eating recommendations. She's less interested in Michelin stars than in fantastic informal dining, but we'd love to see whatever updates you've got if any.

thanks!

mark

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Hi Mark,

About Antwerp, I don't know much, honestly.

About Brussels, well of course things have changed in the last couple of years.

First of all you could keep in mind that dining in Brussels is much more expensive as lunch; for the latter the competition is huge.

Great informal dining - well, what should be meant by that. Let me say that the following are good quality for money, and not formal:

Armes de Bruxelles, Aux [12.5] - famous, old resto in centre of town; classic cuisine (bib gourmand)

Balade Gourmande, La [13] - modern on classic basis; informal, family resto (bib gourmand)

Belga Queen [11] - modern brasserie in old restored office building, Belgium cooking

Chez Marie * [13] - great wine list; brasserie, not very cheap

Clef des Champs, La [13] - French Provence cuisine; great value for money, esp. lunch (bib gourmand)

Dames Tartine, Les [13] - two ladies in small brasserie (bib gourmand)

Fin de siècle [11,5] - Rue des Chartreux (there are two); very informal; cheap, good simple food; mostly students and artistic people

Fourneau, Le [13.5] - informal eating in open kitchen; modern; very good products; owned by former Michelin starred chef Evian, tapas like menu (bib gourmand)

Gourmandin, Le [13,5] - small family owned resto

Idiot du Village, L' [11,5] - small brasserie, French cuisine

In 't Spinnekopke [10] - famous Belgium cuisine, informal brasserie

Intermezzo, L' [10,5] - informal Italian resto near the opera; only opened for lunch and Friday evenings; cheap

JB [13] - informal, family restaurant, modern on classic basis, good value for money (bib gourmand)

Larmes du Tigre, Les [11,5] - Good Thai cuisine

Plattesteeen [10] - informal simple resto in centre of town

Resource [15] - modern, good cuisine; young chef of the year 2006 Brussels GaultMillau

Roue d'Or, La [12,5] - famous, informal good brasserie in centre of town

Vigne… à l'Assiette, De la [13] - informal, modern cuisine; interesting wine list; very good value for money (bib gourmand)

Viva M'Boma [12.5] - informal, classic Belgium cuisine (bib gourmand)

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That is a good up-to-date list from Paulbrussel that will be dependable for any visitors.

One or two caveats - accepting that I have not been to all of the places either recently or at all (but Brussels is a small town and we speak to each other):

Aux Armes de Bruxelles is famous and very long established but recent visit from German friends found it was a bit tired and trading on its reputation. It is still the best place around the Grande Place by a distance but that may not be saying much.

Belga Queen - good athmosphere but for food basically just ok.

Chez Marie (one star with fab wine list), Clef des Champs, Dames Tartine(both top notch traditional), Fourneau (tapas really), Resource (innovative and branché), Vigne a l'assiette (wine list!), viva m'Bono (végétariennes s'abstiens) - in the word(s) of James Joyce "Yes"

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Please offer any suggestions for new/interesting/exciting restaurants in these respective cities.<p>thank you<p>Bradley<p>(Edited by Bradley Kirr at 10:04 pm on Nov. 6, 2001)

I'd second the last post regarding Aux Armes de Bruxelles. It is living on rather than up to its reputation.

I last went to Comme Chez Soi 3 years ago, and whilst it is a little cramped for space the food shows a marvelous dedication to delivering enjoyment without necessarily emptying your pockets. Probably the best soup I have ever tasted, and also the only restaurant where they come back and ask if you would like some more! However they have just lost one of their Michelin stars - personally I wouldn't let that put me off returning.

Alternatively, if you want a slice of Belgium as opposed to Haute Cuisine, In't Spinnekopke is a traditional Tavern, that can offer a variety of beers as well as many hearty dishes, some cooked in beer (e.g. Lapin à la Gueuze, Carbonnades au Lambic).

I can also recommend Armand and Ko, just off the other side of the Grand Place. Good Franco-Belgian bistrot, warm atmosphere and some good paysanne cooking, off the tourist radar, and for post-prandial delights, a cigar bar with excellent brandies.

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You are welcome, Mark! Do enjoy Brussels when you het here.

By the way, over the last couple of years, Michelinstars have come and gone.

So refering to my earlier list, the following changed:

Aloyse Kloos * [14] (Hoeilaart)

Brouette, La * [12]

Deux Maisons, Les * [14,5]

Maison du Boeuf, La - Hilton Hotel * [15]

Orangeraie Roland Debuyst, L' * [15] (Nossegem)

Truffe Noire, La * [13]

Vieux Boitsfort, Au * [14]

Villa Lorraine * [13,5]

all lost their one star.

Bijgaarden, De * * [15,5] (Groot-Bijgaarden)

lost both stars, first 2006, second last week.

Bruneau * * * [18]

Comme chez soi * * * [16,5]

both lost one star and went to two stars.

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  • 2 months later...

Back from Brussels, Bruges and Amsterdam.

Had several superb meals. In order of favorites:

1. Den Gouden HARYNCK (Bruges)

2. Sea Grill (Brussels)

3. Le Fourneau (Brussels)

4. De Bijgaarden (Brussels)

5. Lucius (Amsterdam)

6. Oysters and herring at the Poissonier at Place Ste. Catherine

Gouten Harynk: Beautiful space. Simple and white washed walls. Quiet, efficient service.

Dinner: Chef’s menu, Amuses, then raw, thinly sliced scallops with Asian/Indian toasted seeds

Sea bass in lovely nage

Tenderloin of Pata Negra pork topped with a thin slice of lardo with salsify, encasing pork forcemeat, and brussels sprouts with lardons. Desert was tropical fruits with a clear foam that the S/O said “what’s this, it looks like semen”.

The pork was the finest I have ever tasted. It was smoky without being smoked. Porky without being piggy and moist with the lardo on top. The salsify was brilliant. The chef was a lovely man. The wine (a white Bordeaux was perfect).

Sea Grill: Looked corporate and posh with tons of obsequious waiters. A wine list that weighed a ton and was quite pretentious.

Amuse of oyster in an herb sauce. Fabulous breads with sweet and salted butter.

Apps: Seared scallops with foie gras and chestnut emulsion. Good but not earth shattering. S/O had King Crab, Risotto with Ceps and, Cappuccino of Ceps with Almonds. The risotto was wonderful.

Mains: Dover sole for me. Pristine, perfectly cooked. Monkfish with more foie gras and chestnut puree. Again, well executed and superb fish.

Desert: A raspberry Bavarian mousse cake with raspberry coulis and encased by raspberry pate de fruit. By far, one of the best and most intense deserts I have had. Light and pure fruit. I had a ‘nut’ cake which was so-so. The petits-fours were out of this world and then came the chocolates. Wine was an Austrian riesling. Perfect.

Le Founeau: A great, informal, very hip space. The kitchen is in the center of the restaurant with a semicircular bar with seats all around it. The menu consists of small plates, cooked in front of you. The chef has an amazing mise en place. Amuses were wonderful chorizio and a mousse of foie gras with (I think) a lingonberry coulis).

Starters were scallop risotto and a ravioli with snails, a butter sauce and brunoise vegetables. Clean and impeccable. Then came more Pata Negra for me (not nearly as good as in Bruges) and scallops on a bed of wild mushrooms for the S/O. Then we could not resist the pigeon which was rare and tasted livery as it should. We also had some sides; mashed potatoes with a kilo of butter and lentils de puy. Desert was only one choice. Almond semi fredo and other ice creams with sauces which I have forgotten about but were zinging with flavor.

The scene was very chic and one must get there at 7pm sharp to snag a seat.

De Bijgaarden: The reason for the trip. This restaurant had two Michelin stars, then it was sold and now has none. I guess it deserves one.

It is situated in a beautiful house, right outside of Brussels, with lots of dark wood and an intimate bar. The dining room is large and airy with large windows and a huge flower arrangement. The place had five covers for the evening. We had the chefs menu with wines.

Amuse: Seared sea bass on polenta. Apps: Foie gras three ways (mousse, torchon and yes, ice cream. Delicious, but no toast to accompany it. Then frogs legs, snails and a green sauce with chervil. I really could not taste the frogs legs nor the snails. It just tasted seared.

Main: I had pigeon with leeks and onions. The bird was a bit overdone for me and did not taste gamy enough. The S/O had filet of lamb. The meat was superb.

The desert was citrus fruits with a gratineed sabayon flavored with almonds.

The wine was very disappointing. The first three courses were server with a single white (Torres Sauv. Blanc, followed by a so-so Bordeaux). That was it. No desert wine.

The meal was excellent but not outstanding. The tastes were just not exciting, except for the desert.

Lucius: Lovely old restaurant, surly service. Best oysters of the trip. Very fresh Dover sole.

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  • 3 weeks later...

hi folks

wow lotsa info here on belgium and there fare

im going to brussels for an info trip im looking to either open a restaraunt or work for someone in there place

if any of our friend here can assist in any way i would aprteciate it

bruce

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  • 1 month later...
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