Bite Me, Brussels.

Reviewing food for the foreigners, without all the fluff.

Quartier Libre – the free area?

Posted by rachelinbxl on March 18, 2010

On the recommendation of a friend, three of us booked a table at the ever popular Quartier Libre. Even on a Wednesday, every table was reserved.

It’s a tapas place, with a rolling menu that was very different from the last time my friend had been.

The principle is simple: at lunchtime, 3 dishes for 9 euros; in the evening, 4 dishes for 14 euros. You get a pad of paper with 16 squares on it, organised by veggie dishes, ‘chefs choice’, ‘starters’ and.. meatier items. You put your name at the top and 4 crosses on the paper. Which items will you pick? Each box contains just one word, and the full descriptions are on the blackboards on the wall.

Between us we covered a fair part of the selection

My selection of 4

This is my selection: bottom left the shitake mushroom parcel in truffle cream. Then the white fish ravioli in white wine and coriander sauce. The top two are a salad of artichoke and rocket, and a spring roll with chicken. My favourite was the shitake parcel. The crunchy dough was a delicious offset to the soft mushrooms. The cream was, well, rich and creamy. The only problem was that there was only 1 parcel! The ravioli was good. The fish was bland, but well matched with a white wine and coriander sauce. The fresh pasta was al dente. Very good. The artichoke salad was perhaps the biggest disappointment – the artichoke hearts were good, but they were served with simple tomatoes and mixed leaves, dressed with pine nuts and vinaigrette. I didn’d detect high quanitities of rocket. I felt that this was something I could have prepared simply at home, with a can of artichokes. It was a nice balance to my creamy dishes, but not as outstanding in its flavours. The spring roll was good, but the sauce on it was a little sweet to my taste.

Antje's dishes

These are the pumpkin and ginger soup, the salmon and goats cheese roulade, the potato gratin (with reblochon) and the chicken drumstick. The soup was nice and gingery –  a good warming soup, though this was just about the first day of the year when we didnt need this in Brussels. The potato gratin was another highlight. Really excellent potatoes with the rich reblochon cheese. MMMM. The chicken came off the bone easily and went well with its olive dressing. The salmon roll was perhaps not the best match to these flavours, but in itself was a nice starter.

Carpaccio

The chicken carpaccio was intriguing. We were slightly worried that it would be raw, and our waitress actually checked with the chef for us, and laughed that he thought she was crazy to ask! It was smoked, of course, and was very pleasant.

Another delightful discovery in this friendly place, with very good service, was their attitude to wine. We were hesistating on whether to order by the glass or take a bottle. Our waitress said that we could order the bottle and just pay for what we drank. I’m sure that this generally means that most people finish the bottle, but with only 2 of us drinking, we most certainly did not. And come the bill, indeed we only paid for the half bottle we had drunk. Fantastic! Tapas in every sense of the idea… even for the wine. A little of everything gives you just enough!

Quartier Libre’s chefs do not prepare desserts, but there is a dessert menu. They are bought from Tarte Francois, a place that really deserves a blog entry in itself. We had the cheesecake, which was so good I started eating before I remembered to take a photo.

It was excellent, as are all cakes from Tartes Francois.

All in all, I highly recommend Quartier Libre. There are two in Brussels, though the other is only open at midday. You should always book ahead.

Quartier Libre

Rue Lesbroussart, 16, Brussels 1050, Belgium

Food: A-
Atmosphere: A
Price: A-
Service: A
Languages: French, English

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3 Responses to “Quartier Libre – the free area?”

  1. Alison said

    This looks great! We’d been looking for a really good tapas resto in Bxl so I’ll definitely give this a try.

  2. […] Libre on Rue Lesbroussart. I know this place has been open for a couple of years and reviewed by others, and I had even walked past it several times, but hadn’t tried it until now. It turned out to be […]

  3. […] eat-in/takeaway place, there’s Mama Roma’s, Les Super Filles du Tram (burger joint) and Quartier Libre (tapas), as well as Slurps and Dolma for the vegetarians. The latest addition that we have tested […]

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