I’d been to the Porteuse d’Eau before but just for a drink. I had Japanese friends visiting and wanted something Belgian, and pretty. The Porteuse d’Eau is a wonderful Art Nouveau cadre, without the food being insanely overpriced (.e.g the Museum of Musical Instruments which is another beautiful location I took them too, but the food was severely unimpressive for the price).
It was only when we got there (an easy walk from South Station) that I realised there are steps (3) to get in. But they were very accommodating of my friend in the wheelchair. We carried her, and they carried the chair! They set us up near the bar and were very friendly.
La Porteuse d’eau from outside – it looks inviting, doesn’t it?
Choosing dishes was challenging. We went for 4 very different dishes, of different sizes, and just shared everything. The traditional black and white sausage with potatoes and apple sauce had to be tested! The white sausage was quite bland, but the black one was well spiced. I don’t particularly like the sweet apple with this, but it is traditional, and was well prepared.
As did witloof gratin – the famous Belgian endive, wrapped in ham, cooked in a bechamel sauce, covered with mashed potato and put in the oven (a bit like shepherd’s pie). I have an intense dislike of endive.. despite really trying to learn to like it. This did not change my mind. The bitterness of this vegetable is too much for my palate. But the japanese loved it.
Our third dish was a bit more Dutch – maatjes – or herrings. They came with more endive (but raw – a little easier to manage) and apple, in a salad. This was fresh and very tasty. Quite smokey, and a smaller serving of course. We all enjoyed trying it, but I think a whole plate of this would have been herring and endive overdose for me.
The fourth dish (in the background) was an aubergine gratin. This was cheesy, crunchy and decent, but didn’t offer a particularly interesting flavour. Compared to the other dishes, this was a disappointment. But it was good to have a few vegetables on the table!
La Porteuse d’Eau has an impressive list of beers. I tried another off my list of 100 Belgian beers to try before I die. It was pleasant, but not as tasty as some of the others. My Japanese friends are very sensitive to alcohol, so tried the Jupiler without alcohol. I had not previously tested Belgian beer without.. but this one is surprisingly good. Hoegaarden 0% doesn’t really taste like beer to me (though it is a very refreshing lemon/coriander fizzy drink, and I like it).. this is more like a beer, though a bit more honey-flavoured. It went well with the Belgian food – where I find other soft drinks quickly mask the taste.
By sharing the heavy, and less heavy, dishes, we had space to share 2 desserts. I had already introduced my friends to Liege waffles that one can eat while wandering Brussels streets. The Brussels waffle is much harder to do this with, so we had one here. It was not a great example of one – not being very hot, and just coming with icing sugar and whipped cream. They preferred the light and fluffy texture of this waffle however. Perhaps also because Liege ones are So sweet.
The apple pie came warm, with nuts and raisins and cinnamon, served with ice cream. It was pretty good.
All in all, I’d say this was a great place to take visitors for a Belgian meal that doesn’t break the bank. It also want astound your taste buds… but it’s a beautiful building. We even made sure to carry my friend upstairs so she could see the upstairs room and the lovely toilets, that are also decorated. The staff were very friendly, the service was efficient whilst still being a bit Belgian (we don’t really care, you’ll have to wave to get another beer)….I wouldn’t bother for myself… but for visiting foreigners, I’d say this was a good location for a meal.
La Porteuse d’Eau
Av Jean Volders
1160 St Giles
Languages: French, English