Bite Me, Brussels.

Reviewing food for the foreigners, without all the fluff.

Archive for September, 2010

Blue Chocolate

Posted by rachelinbxl on September 19, 2010

Blue Chocolate is the name of a fairly chic restaurant on Place Saint Job in Uccle. They have a wide choice of interesting dishes on the menu, but the main reason most people I know go there is for the lunch. It is near our office and they offer a menu at 14 euros of a starter and main course with one glass of house wine (red or white). The menu changes each day, but is a fixed selection. We booked for 18 people for a birthday party.
The decor is classy – brown walls with interesting art and beautiful flowers on the table. The restaurant is large, but in length, so it is not one loud open space. There is a lovely garden out the back in summer.
The birthday girl arrived at 12:20, and we ordered aperitifs. They took over 20 minutes to come, and in fact one girls hadnt arrived even when they had taken the meal orders!
Most people took the fixed menu, but I branched out on the amazing sounding ‘half cooked salmon filet with honey and lime sauce, served with daikon and beetroot and small maki’.
The starters for the others arrived quite quickly. One shrimp coquette. Small, but very tasty was the report. However the service, which had not been fast even before, then stalled. It took ages for the main course to arrive and for those of us without starters, we were getting rather hungry!

It was 13:20 by the time the food arrived. But it was worth the wait. I started before the other dishes arrived, since half cooked salmon cools off fast ;-).

The piece of fish itself was excellent and it was extremely well cooked. I found the mix of honey and lime really really interesting. I wasn’t sure that that should be combined with the daikon and beetroot mix, but those vegetables were very good together. The little maki’s were a small dose of carbohydrates but luckily Blue Chocolate gives excellent bread with the meal. The dish of the day was actually also salmon, but a very thin slice compared to my brick, and reportedly a little dry despite the light mustardy sauce. The fries were served in a ceramic mock fries cone with the burger at the other end of the table.
A surprise cake had been booked beforehand, so we weren’t too worried once the main course arrived. They cleared the table quickly and we were waiting at 13:30…. nothing… at 13:45 I got up to leave for a meeting, and then the cake appeared, with candles… so I sat back down. Once she had blown out the candles however the cake disappeared to be cut.. and there was no sign of it before 14:00. I actually got up and requested mine to go since I couldnt not afford the time that was clearly going to be necessary for everyone to get a piece, eat it, pay and leave. They got back at 15:00!
So, the food is really really good… no fault there, but the service is really slow. They should perhaps have constrained a group of 18 to a fixed menu; after all at lunchtime they must know that noone wants to wait long.

Blue Chocolate
24, Place Saint Job
1180 Uccle

Food: A
Atmosphere: B
Service: C
Price: B
Languages: French, English

Posted in General | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

No troubles brewing at the Brassins

Posted by rachelinbxl on September 13, 2010

I take real delight in the beer restaurants in Brussels. I like beer with my food, and they are a good location to take visiting friends. It’s a good way for each of us to try a different beer, some traditional Belgian food (some cooked with beer) and they are generally not overpriced.
For the visit of a Swedish friend, I tried Les Brassins for the first time. They do not make their own beer, but have a reputation for producing good Belgian fare and have a good choice of beer. They are also near the cinema near Toison d’Or where we hoped to catch a movie.
Firstly, the walk there from Stephanie was an eye-opener. The street is very small and very deserted. I thought I must have taken a wrong turn. I’m not sure I’d want to walk there alone at night!
We were one of the first people there; I had reserved and we could choose our table. Within half an hour though (before 8pm) it was packed. It has a very bar/cafe feeling. It’s cosy, but not chic or overly comfy. We were seated on wooden chairs. The fixed menu is basic, but the suggestions of the day were extensive. We stuck to the basics to check the quality!
1 order of stoofvlees/carbonnade/beef stewed in beer, one Brassins Burger, 1 serving of fries and 1 serving of stoemp (belgian mashed potato mixed with a vegetable… the special of the day was with peppers – red, yellow and green).

The beef stew was plentiful and in lots of beer sauce. The meat was tender and of high quality. We both agreed that the sauce could have done with a little more ‘kick’. Beer makes a sauce quite sweet, and this was other lacking mustard, pepper, or some spices. I added a bit of pepper, and enjoyed it with the stoemp. The stoemp was excellent. The best version I have ever tried. The fries were also good, and the sizes of both portions were perfect (we finished them and almost regretted it). The burger was a normal burger really. Good for 12 euros.

We tried 2 of their beers of the month (maya and st idesbald). And then my friend had a Breslienne ice cream. The ice cream is artisanal and was very good. They also serve Illy coffee.
Total cost: 46 euros for 2 meals, 4 beers, a dessert and a coffee. A very good price. The service was friendly, prompt, but not overbearing. The place was busy, perhaps even bustling. Not a place to sit for hours, but a good place to enjoy a meal.
The only draw back is that they do not brew their own beer, and the street is slightly daunting alone! They offer cheap lunch menus also. Shame it’s too far from where I work.

Les Brassins
36 Rue Keyenveld
1050 Brussels (Ixelles)

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

Posted in Bang for your Buck, Brew in Bruxelles, Feeling Carnivorous?, Frite Off! | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Farmers seafood?

Posted by rachelinbxl on September 3, 2010

Along St Catherine there are numerous seafood restaurants. I have tried a few, but almost always when we have meetings at work and need to take foreigners out for mussels, so I would categorise most of them as tourist traps where you pay over the odds for a bowl of mussels. However, for a friend’s leaving party he recommended Bij Den Boer (literally, at the Farmer’s Place) on St Catherine. I was intrigued, as it’s name implied it might not be a seafood joint.
It is. Mainly. They do serve a few meat dishes, but I wasn’t tempted to deviate from their specialties. I dared my first pot of moules with frites ever!
Once we had ordered, we got a free appetizer, which was a bowl of really fresh shrimps. They still ‘had their clothes on’, which put off a couple of diners, but the rest of us gaily peeled them.

Mise en bouche

Then the Piece de Resistance arrived: the mussels. At our table we had 4 pots of mussels and 2 of their fish dishes. The mussels were excellent. This does, of course, depend on the season, but I am told that this restaurant won’t serve mussels unless they are OK. They offer white wine, cream, garlic, provencale, cream and garlic or ‘house special’ versions of mussels. I chose cream and garlic.

So here are the moules and the frites. The sauce was not overbearing. In fact, I think they were cooked in just the cream, onion and leak as always, and it was the small extra pot of sauce that we got that had the garlic in. Either way, it was excellent and the fries were the equal of any of the good friet stands in Brussels. We also got bread (no point, we didn’t have room).

The Restaurant’s special cod was truly excellent. We didn’t ask exactly what it was, but the sauce clearly had basil in it. It served on a bed of creamy mashed potato and though it looked small in the huge bowl, it was a very decent serving. I couldn’t finish the whole pot of mussels, so my friend helped me out by transferring a few mussels into the remaining sauce, hence the picture of the mussel 6-pack next to the cod. None of us had space for dessert, however tempting the chocolate mousse, tarte tatin or creme brulee looked.
The place is welcoming, not too large and not too small. Bookings are a necessity and it was packed on a Thursday night, but the noise level was still very good. Service was slightly snobbish, but very efficient and very polite. Definitely one of the better restaurants I have tried in Brussels, though not the cheapest. It is a fair price-quality ratio. A bowl of mussels with all the trimmings is 22 euros. We had wine, so the total was 30 euros per person. You can get cheaper on the Quai, but I don’t think they’d be as good 😉
Next time work is offering to pay for dinner, I’ll recommend the seafood from these farmers!

Bij Den Boer
Quai aux Briques 60
1000 Brussels

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

Posted in Frite Off! | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »