Bite Me, Brussels.

Reviewing food for the foreigners, without all the fluff.

Archive for May, 2010

Going, going, GONG

Posted by rachelinbxl on May 27, 2010

The Gong restaurant next to the Ixelles cemetery was a lucky find on resto.be. I was looking for good, cheap-ish food near a friend in Ixelles and this one had the nicest website. On arrival, I discovered the major roadworks going on in the area. This meant the resto was much emptier than normal. In fact, there were only 3 groups in with us. So service was speedy and attentive. The menu had already looked very interesting online, a mix of Japanese dishes (sushi, sashimi and tempura – with some exotic twists), and more typical Vietnamese dishes. I chose the mixed tempura dish and my friend took the chicken with red curry and coconut. The dishes arrived very quickly. The mixed tempura had 2 mangetout peapods, one baby sweetcorn, one asparagus stick, a piece of pumpkin or sweet potato, an aubergine slice, a scallop, 2 prawns and one unidentified vegetable (yummy). This was served with a weak soy sauce, and horseradish. Each item was perfectly cooked and the tempura batter was crunchy. The only problem is eating fast enough to enjoy all items hot, whilst not feeling sick or not fully appreciating each flavour!
The chicken was grilled, with dried coconut and a piece of lotus root. The curry sauce was served on the side and was not overly spicy (or overly coconutty.. a slight disappointment, but nice to be able to choose the amount). Each was served with a pot of rice (not only plain white).
I forgot my camera, so I hope this is enough of a description.
We enjoyed both dishes and took a long pause before dessert to enjoy our wine. At this point, the owner (a lovely Vietnamese lady) came over to chat with us about how we had found the restaurant (and complain about the roadworks damaging business). Gong has only been open for 6 months bu has built up a name in the neighbourhood… I’d say it was justified. She was determined that we should try a dessert… and even brought the cakes over to show us. My friend chose a sort of pistachio bavarois, while I took omochi, a traditional japanese rice ball filled with red aduki bean paste. We each had these with black sesame ice cream.
At this point my friend remembered she could take a photo with her camera, so we have a picture of the amazing ice cream. it was a very unusual flavour, not overly sweet, but really really good!

Cake with black sesame ice cream

I really liked this restaurant. The decor is very zen -open and airy, tastefully decorated. Let me know what you think!

Restaurant Gong
489 Chaussee de Boondael
Ixelles

Food: A-
Atmosphere: A
Service: A-
Price: B+
Languages: French, English, Probably also Vietnamese!

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Hellos and Goodbyes

Posted by spacemonkey99 on May 10, 2010

Just a quick note to say that we have some new bloggers joining Bite Me Brussels.  You probably have noticed already but we thought it would be nice to give them official recognition.  So welcome to rachelinbxl and nandosgirl!  We are all excited for their forthcoming reviews; the good, the bad, and yes, even the ugly or weird.

We would also like to say goodbye to our dear friend pieguybxl who will be moving on to bigger and better things.  Although he may now and then drop a line from the other side of the world, his official Brussels days are over.  We wish him the best of luck!

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A gingerbread house in the woods

Posted by rachelinbxl on May 7, 2010

Friends of mine recently helped me discover The Wood.

The Wood

Deep in the heart of Bois de la Cambre (TerkamerenBos) on the edge of Uccle, Bruxelles Ville and Ixelles, there is an idyllic centre of calm and strange plant life that serves a decent brunch on sundays. The door is round on the far end of the building (many of the windows look like doors!)

We were 10 people, and had booked, but it was not actually very busy; it might have been because of the crazy rain we had! For 25 euros you have access to the buffet from 11am till 3pm (and I hear they have stayed later, but were finally kicked out at 4pm).

The buffet bar


There is a very decent selection of cold cuts, warm dishes, salads, breads and pastries, really good fresh juices… etc. I’m not sure how much changes each week, but will be going back to test it again for sure!

Herring

I was really pleased with their fresh fish. The herring was excellent, as was the salmon. The beef carpaccio was also good, served with shaved parmesan and a mustardy sauce. The salad was well dressed, but in a rather small bowl. The coffees were generous, although not included in the price, which I had misunderstood, but never mind.

Lait Russe


There were also warm dishes that I didnt photograph. They had canneloni, another meat dish with bacon and something else that I avoided. I had just had a BBQ the night before so I was more in the mood for salads and fish. Plus, of course, the desserts.

Pastries and bread

They also add a few specialities each time. Last time it was pancakes cooked in front of you. This time it was profiteroles with hot chocolate sauce.

Profiteroles with hot chocolate sauce

All these delights are served on Villeroy and Boch china, with their matching cutlery (frightfully chic, take a large bag and something to muffle the sound of you nicking one of their Bodum themo glasses)…. in fact those Bodum glasses are dangerous. You can’t feel the heat of your lovely fresh mint tea, so you burn your mouth.

I would suggest staying long enough to need to use the facilities, as the toilets are a tourist attraction in themselves. I won’t say any more, or the post will need a spoiler alert. Take a while to wander around and admire the fountain and the strange bottle of Absolut vodka near the door.

My only 1 negative point was that, since it is a serve yourself buffet, the waiters are much more involved chatting to each other or serving the few other guests who order a la carte. Getting their attention to order coffee/tea required really walking up to the bar. But its a small gripe.
It is off the beaten track, but I imagine in the summer it will get busy with people wanting to spend a day in the park. There were seats outside, but the joy of this sunday buffet was having the whole spread to ourselves!

The Wood
Floralaan, Bois de la Cambre

Food: A-
Atmosphere: B+/A-
Service: B+
Price: A-
Languages: French, English, Dutch

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Izakaya

Posted by spacemonkey99 on May 4, 2010

I have been hearing about Izakaya for years.  As the story goes, it used to be a place run by and for Japanese customers only (or you had to at least be Japanese-speaking).  I guess times change, and now there are non-Japanese customers such as myself who venture to try it.  But, by the number of Japanese clientele it seems it has quite authentic cuisine (or they could just be there for the Japanese karaoke found in the basement).  Above you see the free starter everyone gets but not everyone enjoys. Its tangy, sweet, fishy.  Those familiar with real (not the Westernized versions) of Japanese, Korean or even Chinese cuisine will taste familiar flavors and textures.  Those less familiar will either love it or hate it.

We decided to try a variety of dishes including the above mixed platter (~10 euros) of yakitori and other grilled meats.  The chicken, mushroom and shrimp were by far the best.  The strange one was the cheese and bacon. Question mark there.

Above the grilled mackerel, a favorite with fish lovers and recommended here as it was quite tasty.

The karaage (fried chicken) was also done well for those familiar with this dish. Crispy and crunchy.

We also tried many other dishes such as the udon, tempura, chicken with rice and so on.  Overall, our group had mixed reviews.  Some people loved it.  The udon was overcooked and the noodles were soggy which was a disappointment. The tempura was perfect ~ light, fluffy, tasty but a bit expensive at 18 euros for 6 – 7 pieces.  In spite of being a bit expensive (we paid 35 euros a person and not everyone felt they had eaten sufficiently) I would recommend this place ~ order some warm or chilled sake, enjoy the dishes in a tapas-style way sharing with your friends and try something Japanese other than sushi!

Izakaya

Chaussée de Vleurgat, 123

1050 Ixelles

Food: B+/A-
Atmosphere: B+/A-
Service: A-
Price: B
Languages: French, English, Japanese

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Positive Pasta Tastings

Posted by pieguybxl on May 3, 2010

Does Le Patty Pâtes suck?  That was the controversy, as I had heard from multiple sources quite different opinions on the food.  Since fresh pasta is hard to come by, especially in Brussels, we finally went there for lunch the other day to add our vote.

First came the homemade “Nina” plate (~15 euros), with basically a bolognese and mozzarella.  This was one of the few dishes without a cream sauce, too, if you care about that.  When I got the plate, I was skeptical, but the relatively simple dish really impressed me.  I loved the meaty and flavorful sauce — although it was slightly saltier than in other places, this perfectly complemented the fresh and filling tagliatelle underneath when mixed together.

Then there was a chicken-and-mushrooms dish over the same type of pasta, with bits of ham.  Although my friend thought it was delicious, in the end he found it a bit heavy from the cream and couldn’t finish everything.  Of course, if it were gluttonous me, I probably would’ve eaten it all.

Apparently the place gets packed by 1pm on most afternoons, and it’s not open for dinner all the time, so getting a place may be difficult.  However, if you get the chance, I recommend trying it, as I enjoyed the meal.  The fresh pasta mainly sells the place, and the dense flavor of my tagliatelle definitely was better than in the average Brussels pasta bar.

However, the contradictory reviews I had heard beforehand suggests that eating here could be a risk, as the experience might not be consistent, and some may find nothing special about it.  Maybe the inconsistency is just a reflection of hand-made food in general?   Pasta fans should go there and find out.

Le Patty Pâtes
10, Rue Ernest Solvay, Ixelles

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

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