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Recommendations for Brussels


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For me it is the most disappointing ***-restaurant of Belgium. It is not innovating at all, and the last time I was there, some of the dishes were not well prepared (fish cooked too long...). I tried it for the 3d time, but for me it is finished.

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.

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  • 9 months later...

forgive me for bringing up this old thread but didn't think it was worth starting a new thread!

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.

Cheers

Yin

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  • 1 month later...

Just back from Brussels and you were right, YKL, Vismet is a great little restaurant.

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 :unsure: ) 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.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Brussels doesn't always receive its due credit as one of the great eating cities of Europe. I've found that over the years recommendations all too often concentrate on either "les monstres sacrés" (Comme Chez Soi etc.) or places near the Grande Place or the European institutions, many of which are either tourist traps or carry the athmosphere of too many working lunches. This is nevertheless a city where you generally eat well without too much effort but to encourage people to venture away from the guide book favourites, here – in no particular order - are a few personal choices where I have eaten regularly over the years and continue to revisit. It's difficult to give firm prices – it really depend on choices, particularly for wine but in most of the examples which follow, a bill of around €100 for 2 people, taking three courses ands a reasonable bottle of wine would not be unexpected. Clientele will generally be mixed local/international bourgeoisies (what else would you expect?) who are there to eat food they like and to socialise with friends. The city is not very large and although generally in residential areas, none of these are more than 10 minutes by taxi from the main hotels – in some cases you might think of walking. They are the kind of places you can generally walk into without reservations although on busy nights it is better to phone ahead - some are small and all are popular. I'm afraid the lack of any contemporaneous notes means drawing on sometimes hazy recollections – the more precise references are from recent visits.

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.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well, the two nights Comme Chez Soi is closed are Sunday and Monday, and as luck would have it, I will be in Brussels Sept. 5 and 6 (Sunday and Monday). Any other suggestions for an equivalent? Is there an equivalent?

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You could try Bruneau - they probably close during August but should be open by the dates you mentioned including I think Sundays. Comparable in most ways with Comme Chez Soi - perhaps it lacks the particular intimate athmosphere and typical Bruxelloise ambience which makes CCS so special. On the other hand, the food at Bruneau is slightly more inventive - CCS is firmly grounded in the classic dishes which are the basis of its reputation over several generations. Another possibility in the same area (Basilique) is Claude Dupont - also has two Michelin stars but I've never eaten there.

The Sea Grill in the SAS Hotel is certainly open on Mondays - don't be put off by a hotel restaurant, this is a serious and fine operation run by a team whose ambition is to get a third star. I also think you should not worry about a Monday night problem - sourcing fresh fish does not seem to be a problem. La Maison du Boeuf in the Hilton is also worth considering - food reflects the name and as with all of these places, the wine list can empty your pocket. Some weeks ago we drank a Grange des Peres 1998 here - it's listed at €110 which is probably reasonable (oops!) when the same wine is retailing for something around €100 on the shelf at Lavinia in Paris.

For Bruneau in particular, you may need to reserve as far in advance as possible.

Weather in Brussels in September is variable but you can be lucky and chance on a balmy late summer night when eating out of doors is an option. In which case, you could take a look at Barbizon in Jesus-Eik - it's in an exquisite villa which looks like it belongs in Deauville and is on the edge of the forest about 15 minutes by taxi from down town. The restaurant has one star and the food and service are correct but not adventurous - the overall impression veers towards haute bourgeoisie but that's not necessarily a bad thing. John Helion, the experienced and dependable reviewer who writes in the Bulletin was here a few weeks ago and wrote a good report but I don't think his comumn is available on-line.

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Sea Grill would be the best restaurant, but mainly fish of course. If you go, and you have enough money to spend, do take the "Homard à la Presse".

Wine list is OK, but expensive. Staff is one of the best I know, but that is perhaps because I have been there about 50 times in the last 10 years, and they don't change much.

Bruneau is a lovely restaurant: much more creative as CCS (which I personally don't like that much because of being so classic). The wine list at Bruneau is also excellent, and not expensive at all. I had two months ago a Château Palmer 199 there for 110 €, which is the same price which you will pay on the market.

Bruneau lost its third star this year, although I haven't understood why.

Dupont is a very classic restaurant, and for me not very interesting. The same for Barbizon, in my opinion.

Sea Grill and Bruneau are surely open in September, Bruneau also on Sundays. If you want to see them both: Bruneau offers a good lunch for only 65 €, drinks included (edit: also on Sundays).

Sea Grill is open from Monday to Friday; you certainly need to reserve for Sea Grill on Mondays, since it is the only top restaurant open that very day, and the restaurant is very well known. Bruneau is less necessary to make a reservation since it lost its third star.

Edited by paulbrussel (log)
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I will be in Brussels Monday. I have never been there so I will probably hit the touristy area. Can anyone suggest a resto there, where eating alone is not a problem, and isn't a tourist trap? Thanks in advance.

Paris is a mood...a longing you didn't know you had, until it was answered.

-An American in Paris

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Eating alone is no problem in Brussels, since many people, even locals, do that.

Monday evening however is a bad evening: many restaurants are closed.

Besides the discussion above, the main questions are: what sort of kitchen are you looking for, and what is your budget. Since I know a lot of restaurants in Brussels, you can always ask me directly.

Anyway: the main tourist trap is everything around the Grand Place, and mainly the Rue de Bouchers / Beenhouwersstraat (except for the restaurant Aux Armes de Bruxelles).

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Paul,

Thanks for your reply. I sent you a PM also.

My budget is 30-40 euros for meal not inc wine. French/Belgian, small bistro.

I am willing to go out of the touristy area to eat, just not to the bainlieus (assuming there some).

thank you again

Paris is a mood...a longing you didn't know you had, until it was answered.

-An American in Paris

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Paul,

Thanks for your reply. I sent you a PM also.

My budget is 30-40 euros for meal not inc wine. French/Belgian, small bistro.

I am willing to go out of the touristy area to eat, just not to the bainlieus (assuming there some).

thank you again

I really like le vieux mairie on place du grand sablon. Its a lovely local restaurant with good waterzooi and filet americaine. Its right next to Pierre Marcolini at Place du Grand Sablon, 39. The same owners have a fish restaurant on place st. catherine that is quite lovely.

I ate at the Hyatt Barsey Brussels and it was quite good also, but really, reallly out of the way.

There are quite a few good seafood places on Place St. Catherine.

lalala

I have a relatively uninteresting life unless you like travel and food. Read more about it here.

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There are quite a few good seafood places on Place St. Catherine.

lalala

I second the suggestion of heading to Place Ste. Catherine. Lots of good choices, very nice to eat outside if the weather is temperate. Although it's a very short walk from the Grand Place, the density of tourists is much less.

Edited by rlibkind (log)

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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  • 2 weeks later...

i have been at a restaurant called <belga queen>. it was more a brasserie style restaurant with an interesting design. you will find the adress easily trough google.com

after your meal i would recommend a walk trough <grand sablon> which is a beautiful part of brussels and please check the chocolates at marcollini

have fun,

vue

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There is a website for the brasserie: http://www.belgaqueen.be/.

And also for the most famous pastry and chocolate of Belgium: http://www.marcolini.be/. Meanwhile, opposite Marcolini, there is the great competitor, also excellent: Wittamer.

Belga Queen is part of a 'chain' of Antine Pinto, who owns also trendy places like Dock’s Café, Pakhuis, La Quincaillerie, Pasta Commedia (Antwerp, Gent, Brussels). Although the places are quite nice for the atmosphere, and the food reasonably good and modern but safe, his restaurants are more known as sort of 'places to be', not for the very interesting cuisine.

For lunch it is always very busy, but for the lunch menu (12 €) you must be early, otherwise you have to order à la carte, and those dishes are much too expensive for what you get, as is the same for the other places of Pinto.

But nevertheless, you won't be disappointed.

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The most frequent comment you hear about Belgaqueen usually revolves around the toilets!

Apart from being unisex, there is a shock effect generated by what appears to be transparent glass which forms all the partitions and doors - the trick is that the walls and door of the stall become opaque when the door is locked. Result is mild shock and titillation for first time visitors.

Food is so-so, the wine list's usp is that all the growers are Belgians - usually based in France. Good idea for home town patriots but there is not much else you can say about it. Chäteau Carignan is a good dependable Premiere Cotes de Bourdeaux with a high merlot content which makes it easy drinking - can't remember what they charge for it but it is not over expensive.

Setting is good - an old 19th century banking hall well restored - but frankly you can eat much better in Brussels for the same outlay without too much effort. (See elsewhere in this thread) The night I was there it was full of noisy groups who were obviously enjoying themselves but not terribly interested in the food.

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  • 3 weeks later...

just back from a weekend in Brussels and had a good meal at Bonsoir Clara - but seem to be having trouble finding its website.

It's a lovely atmospheric place (we were not in the stained glass room) with courteous service and well priced food. Starters for the group were gravadlax, tuna tartare with nori and prawn croquettes - and all were good with the tuna being pronounced exceptional. Mains were the rack of lamb with millefeuille of vegetables and fillets of red snapper. The clean plates are the best indication of delicious food. Sadly we were too full for dessert - but next time!

We weren't really drinking that night so the bill for three of us was just over 100EUR - pretty good value in my mind. and certainly somewhere I want to go back to ..

cheers

Yin

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In my view, the best restaurant in Brussels for the moment to go to is: Resource (http://www.restaurantresource.be/).

It has not been in any guide yet, because it opened this year.

The chef has a very good CV; worked at the Ritz in Paris, at Le Grill aux Herbes d'Evan in Brussels and at Le Vieux Boitsfort in Brussels, all restaurant with high notes in GaultMillau and / or Michelinstars.

But I have the impression that at Resoucre, his own restaurant, he seems to be more creative then the chefs mentioned whith whom he worked.

For the moment, it is not too expensive: 35 € for a three course menu, whith interesting choices from the menu for each course.

But since it will be mentioned in the 2005 guide and getting high rates, I am afraid prices will rise.

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We just returned from a tour of Brussels, Brugge, and other cities. We had two nights free on our own in Brussels, one of which we spent exploring within the Place Ste. Catherine area. There seem to be any number of seafood restaurants. I suppose that any of the guidebooks that mentions the area will indicate their favorites. Expect prices to be slightly higher than in some of the more touristy areas, but the food and service will be worth it. There are a couple of places that specialize in lobster, and we ate in one of them. As I recall, the prices for the lobster dinners were in the 50 euro range.

One observation by a couple of dumb yanks: we never did get the tipping issue settled. Our tour guide said 10 percent and the seasoned travelers in our group said "nothing," except for exceptional food or service. Generally, we opted for the latter, but were uneasy about it for a while.

LARRY W

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  • 3 months later...

any options for budget travellers?

i'm looking to spend 25 euros top on a meal...are tehre a lot of options, recommendations?

i'd turn to guidebooks but they generally favour price of quality (not written by foodhounds/cooks).

any help would be appreciated...also, recommendatiosn for bruges as well.

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any options for budget travellers?

i'm looking to spend 25 euros top on a meal...are tehre a lot of options, recommendations?

i'd turn to guidebooks but they generally favour price of quality (not written by foodhounds/cooks).

any help would be appreciated...also, recommendatiosn for bruges as well.

What sort of restaurants do you like?

Furthermore: in Brussels lunches are generally much, much cheaper then dinner.

Is 25 € including drinks or only for the meal?

For dinner I can only recommend for that price: De la Vigne... à l'assiette, r. Longue Haie 51, 1000 Brussels; tel. +32.2.647 68 03.

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If you are happy to eat your main meal at lunch time and order wine by the "pichet" rather than from the wine list, you should certainly be able to eat enjoyably in Brussels whilst respecting your budget.

There should be a few previous threads on the site with suggestions.

I see that Chez Marie has retained it's one Michelin star. It's at rue Alphonse de Witte 40, 02/6443031 - a bit difficult to find but first get to Place Flagey, then it's just behind the church near the police station.

On a previous posting, I mentioned that the €15 lunch menu might well be among the cheapest in any one star Michelin and nobody has come back to contradict this. Best to book.

I can endorse De la Vigne... à l'assiette but think that perhaps €25 may be before you start hitting te wine list.

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Chez Marie is not easy to find indeed. perhaps only the lunch menu (16 €) might be interesting; for dinner it costs à la carte between 46 and 60 €, according to Michelin. The a la carte menu is rather short and expensive (they don't serve prix fixe menus for dinner). The dishes are really good, but in my view not very interesting culinary wise.

Do mind that the wine list is big but also quite expensive.

For De la Vigne...: the wine list starts with quite moderate prices (14 €?), and a good prix fixe menu is served for dinner at 20 €; for lunch there is a menu for 12 €.

As regard starred restaurants, you good also try Le Passage, which has a lunch menu for 20 €. For dinner it has become more expensive over the years.

The best value for money lunch, I think would be the two starred restaurant (uptill 2003 three stars) Bruneau where you can have a three course menu (several choices), which comes with three amuses-geules and including an aperitif and drinks for 65 €. (Without drinks: 45 €.)

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thank you!

keep the suggestions coming! i guess i'd be willing to stretch the budget up to 40 euros, not including wine...

i'm a cook so i'm really interested in food across the spectrum, classic and contemporary that captures the spirit of belgium, i guess...

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