Bite Me, Brussels.

Reviewing food for the foreigners, without all the fluff.

Archive for October, 2012

Sushi and seaweed in Uccle

Posted by rachelinbxl on October 30, 2012

I think I have mentioned how much I adore sushi, so I was really pleased to sea that the old chocolate shop on Ave de Fre was being turned into a sushi outlet. I feel that Uccle is rather poorly represented in terms of sushi – Cote Sushi at Vanderkindere being my closest. More and more are opening though, and this one is close enough for a lunchtime trip, so we went to test it today. Since it was from work, I didn’t have my camera with me, but it turns out this is a takeaway/delivery only joint, so there was no sit down decoration, just take away plastic. They opened 5 October and are still being discovered. They offer a few lunchtime menus – at 9 euro or 12. We each took the 12 and felt we got a very good deal.

We got miso soup, a seaweed salad and a mix of rolls and nigiri – to be precise 2 different rolls of 6 pieces and 3 nigiri (1 salmon, 1 squid, 1 prawn)

We made it back to the office and the soup was still warm. There was plenty of wasabi and ginger, but those little bottles of soy sauce always seem a bit small to me. One dish had just cucumber roll (I never see the point of this), and then salmon and avocado wrapped with dill rather than seaweed or sesame seeds. The other dish had cooked tuna with apple, rolled in sesame and salmon with magato (fish eggs) and another herb, wrapped in seaweed.

The miso soup was a little bland (though I prefer this to overly salted). There were real strips of seaweed and real chunks of tofu in there. I enjoyed it. The seaweed salad was pleasantly crunchy, though a little cold after soup. The dressing was a little sweet, but I liked it. This is just 3.50 euros outside the menu, which is good for seaweed salad. Edamame and the traditional cabbage salads were also options. But I far prefer seaweed.

The fish (only really salmon in raw fish) was good. The rice had a slightly sweet taste, but good texture. We both noticed a metallic taste to 2 of the rolls – with herbs in. Either the herb was meant to have this taste, or the seaweed inside was a little old. It did not prevent enjoyment but degraded it a little. We think that the girl messed up and the tuna and apple option was not meant to be in the menu with soup and salad. But I was glad she did. I would never have chosen this combination but it was really good – the best of all of them.

We were very full for our 12 euro lunch and I will be testing them again. They have no website, so I scanned the menu!

Algues et Sushi
Ave de Fre, 207
1180 Uccle
02 375 90 84

Food: B
Atmosphere: C (well its a takeaway!)
Service: A Very friendly
Price: A
Languages: French,…?


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Best Hot Chocolate Competition part 1

Posted by rachelinbxl on October 15, 2012

Of course, one of the things we are spoiled for choice on in Belgium is all things cocoa related!

I have my favourite chocolatiers – Zaabar and Blondeel are on the list. Zaabar for their chocolate bars of different cocoa origins, and Blondeel for their hot chocolates. There are others I must try – Wittamer is one I have often heard recommended. But I stick to St Catherine for this post.

The tea house has varied the selection in the past, but recently stuck to tried and tested – Venezuela – lower cocoa content but with chili powder and lemongrass flavour, Ghana (85% coca) with vanilla, cinnamon and aniseed (not strong), Madagascar (63% simple cocoa and milk), Safraan – more expensive 63% topped with frothed milk and real safran, and the 100% cocoa with mountain honey – that I love but that shouldn’t be considered as a drinking chocolate 😉

Madagascar Ghana – velvety smooth, vanilla undertones
Ghana Venezuela – more milky, with chili powder and lemongrass
The tea room The decor – Mayan?

If you go with  few people, try each! I’m also told their coffees are excellent. Their tea suffers from the typical Belgian problem of not being served hot enough in my British opinion. The Ghana is stronger on the cocoa content, and velvety smooth. The Venezuela was very hot on the chili to start with, with the lemongrass coming through more towards the bottom of the cup. This one is harder to taste the cocoa, it’s somewhat overpowered. The safran one was the biggest disappointment to me. It’s more expensive and much milkier. Maybe my palate is not refined enough, but I couldn’t taste the safran in this. My favourite remains the 100% – but I eat it with a spoon. It is not sweet, nor milky, despite being based on milk and chocolate. The honey adds a delightful wild flavour to the cocoa, but this is not a refreshing drink. It’s a medicinal pick me up filled with endorphins and feel-good factor!

They always put 2 chocolates beside your hot chocolate, as well as a glass of water that is much appreciated. One is their most famous praline based on florentine pieces – caramelised sugar with small nuts in it. You can ask to select chocolates from the counter for a small extra cost to enjoy with your drinks  (the price varies with who is serving!). They offer great flavours – including chili, wasabi, sea salt, earl grey, jasmine and rosemary. At 10 euros per 100g, you will only take away a few chocolates in a plastic bag unless you are on a splurge.

This place is often busy for the sit-down, but worth a visit! if it’s too packed, pop round the corner to Charli to test their pain au chocolat. I’ve since tested their beer and pumpkin seed bread and it is worth the trip!

Frederic Blondeel

Quai aux Briques 241000 Bruxelles
Drinks: A
Atmosphere: B
Service: A
Price: B+
Languages: French, Dutch, English


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Resto Days at Jaloa

Posted by rachelinbxl on October 10, 2012

I spoke about Resto Days last year and the year before. The idea is that restaurants (Primarily the expensive ones) offer a 3 course meal at the fixed price of 21 euros for lunch and 28 euros for dinner. This encourages people to test the place, love the food, and go back when its more expensive! After a particularly bad experience last year where we misunderstood the wine menu price, we were less enthusiastic this year, but Jaloa had spaces left at the last minute, so I seized the chance to try this seafood place at St Catherine. The fixed restodays menu did not leave room for choices:

Wild duck and goose liver carpaccio, baby spinach and hazelnut oil
Seared albacore tuna, vegetable spaghetti, fresh herb potato puffs, soy and yuzu (Asian citrus fruit) vinaigrette
Crepe Suzette (thin pancake flambéed with orange liqueur) and vanilla ice cream

but the whole thing sounded fantastic. We dripped in from the rain and were welcomed rather brusquely. Other tables had their coats taken – we did not. But we got a nice round table where we could view the bar and see the guy outside opening oysters. A table near us had a tower of shellfish that they were attacking, which was fascinating but I didn’t dare to take pictures, sorry.
We went for the house red – liver needs red and the tuna could handle it – because we all prefer red and because the house wine was the only affordable bottle on the menu. It was a Cab Sav from Carcassone that was rather light before food, but handled both dishes tolerably. I’m sure the waiter could have picked out a better option but if the meal is 28€, I object to spending more than that on the drinks!

Liver carpaccio, spinach, hazelnut oil

The first course arrived fairly quickly and was an excellent starter. The liver was beautifully prepared and I loved the delicate hazelnut flavour. The fresh bread went well with it and we polished it off quickly. Our mistake, as we had to wait a while for the main course. We saw other tables get theirs, and knew they had been waiting a while. Luckily we couldn’t drink too much while waiting as the bottles of wine are stored at a table where only the waiters can access them – so he restrained us by not serving more – unlike the overzealous habit of some to keep topping up your wine, which can get very annoying. We had control of our bottle of water, which was the wiser choice.

Tuna, Potato puffs and vegetable spaghetti

The main dish was fantastic. The tuna was char grilled and had a light smoky taste. The vegetable spaghetti was a mix of carrot, bean-sprout, green and yellow courgettes and had a very light spicy kick. The yuzu sauce was perhaps light on taste, and the beetroot painted decoration on one diner’s plate was so thin and hard that he couldn’t test it; the potato-herb puffs were fried in truffle oil – which was a very strong flavour (certainly more than the potato or herb), but went well with the smoky tuna. We each argued over what was our favourite part of the melange of tastes. It was a superb plate of food, and a good serving size. Once we had finished we were allowed to have the wine bottle on our table to decide who got the last few mouthfuls.

Crepes Suzette

After this I could have done with a longer break before dessert arrived, but the crepes were served fairly rapidly. They were cold, not too sweet, with a pleasant orange after-taste. The ice cream wasn’t anything special.
The restaurant was definitely emptying out (10pm on a Monday) when we got the bill. Nobody wished us goodbye until we got outside, where our waiter was on a cigarette break, explaining the calm inside. All in all an excellent meal, and Jaloa will be on my list of places to take people who offer to buy me dinner!

Brasserie Jaloa
Place St Catherine 5-7,
1000 Bruxelles

Food: A
Atmosphere: B
Service: B
Price: A- during resto days!
Languages: French, English

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Bite Me in Rome

Posted by rachelinbxl on October 3, 2012

Rachelinbxl has been quiet of late – lots of travelling and not much time to test restaurants in Brussels. Have mainly eaten in old favourites with visiting friends. So, I decided to add a restaurant from Rome. Bite Me does this sometimes on our travels, but this is my first posting from abroad. I’ll spare you the delights of Indian cuisine that I sampled on a recent trip and stick to something you might get to try.

We discovered, quite by accident, in the back streets of Rome, a Mozzarella bar. Intrigued by what this could mean we scrutinised the menu while it was closed and decided to come back when it was open. You can try various types of this AOC cheese (i.e. it must be made in a certain place).
I like mozzarella – on pizza, or in a salad with tomato and basil – but it doesn’t have a strong taste. Of course, we get the not-so-good stuff. Here, at the bar, one can choose from the milky white balls, each in separate tanks – like selecting a fish or a lobster in a seafood restaurant! They list the options as:
Paestum (delicate taste)
Pontina (strong taste)
Affumicata (naturally smoked)
Burrata (deliciously creamy)
If you want a tasting menu you can have two. We went for Pontina and Affumicata. We chose to have freshly made focaccia with it rather than a simple bread basket. Also known as pizza bianca, this was the best focaccia I have ever tasted – with rosemary and flakes of sea salt in its crisp, thin layers. Not spongy and thick like focaccia in Belgium!
The waiter was a little bit useless – forgot what we ordered to drink and got very confused, but he could at least advise us to start with the Pontina and then try the smoked. They come on a bed of young spinach and cherry tomatoes with a few (rather poor) black olives – but I wouldn’t call this a salad! The dish was easily enough for 2 to share however, as the cheese is very filling.

Focaccia (pizza bianca) and Mozzarella

I loved the pontina. So much flavour in such a fresh cheese! It was so good we didn’t try the olive oil or balsamic vinegar available on the table. Once we did, we couldn’t stop with those either. The quality is totally different, superior even to most of the olive oils I have had in Italy.
The smoked was totally different – overpowering and more sickly. I was glad I only had to eat half. I also enjoyed it, but half was enough. My friend preferred this one…
We didn’t have space for dessert and at lunchtime on such a hot day we didn’t sample their excellent selection of Italian wines. I looked up where the one in London is, for my next trip ‘home’. I intend to buy a bottle of that excellent olive oil, when I don’t have Ryanair hand luggage restrictions holding me back!

Obika has branches in Italy, New York, Tokyo, Istanbul but also now in London and soon – who knows where!
Obika, Rome
Food: A
Atmosphere: B (street bar in Rome – can’t guarantee they are all the same)
Service: B
Price: B (pricey for cheese and bread)
Languages: Italian, English

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