Bite Me, Brussels.

Reviewing food for the foreigners, without all the fluff.

Archive for August, 2013

A web of seafood

Posted by rachelinbxl on August 25, 2013

I had heard of the Spinnekopke, but had never tried it. It is a little off the beaten path around Grand Place, St Gery and St Catherine areas for me, but not a long walk at all. I called in advance, as I was taking a friend in a wheelchair. They confirmed step free access to the toilet, so I booked a table. When we arrived, they were very welcoming…. but there was one giant problem. The square itself is on a hill, and the entrance to the old brasserie is down 3 steps, unless you do a long tour down the side street and approach from that angle – but my friend wanted to sit on the terrace. This is on the square at the top of the steps, surrounded by plant boxes. The waiters very kindly moved a plant box, and we installed ourselves. Of course, this meant there were 3 steps to get to the toilet, and we were trapped until they helped us leave. But still….

The Brasserie Spinnekopke

The Brasserie Spinnekopke

The place itself is lovely, as is the square. The terrace is close to the road, but there is not much traffic. We were a group of 4 and they were quite happy for us to order 2 starters to share, and just 2 main courses. I am glad we did, as they were filling!

Prawn or cheese croquettes

Prawn or cheese croquettes

As starters, we had one plate of prawn croquettes and one of cheese (Maredsous abbey cheese, a good choice). These were both excellent, crispy and runny in perfect measures, served with a little touch of salad. I tried the house white beer (brewed by the owner). It was excellent.

Mussels with beer sauce

Mussels with beer sauce

For the main courses we took a pot of mussels with the homemade beer in the sauce. The mussels were excellent, even though July is really not the season for them. The beer sauce is rich and thick – and still comes with leek in the mix, to add a little freshness. They replaced the bread as often as we asked. The other dish was cod in white wine and parsley sauce. This suffered from us being on the terrace. It cooled quickly and cold fish is not my thing. The sauce was good, but subtle compared to the zingy, rich beer sauce on the mussels, so the mix and match didn’t do it justice. The fish itself was good quality, however…

Cod with white wine sauce

Cod with white wine sauce

I found the vegetables a little overcooked and the frites were not Belgian double fried quality (I had to take my guests for those another time.. but a frietkot is a MUST in brussels anyway). We tried the house blond beer too – which was also good but less outstanding than the white. The brown (double) was unfortunately off-tap.. so we missed trying the full selection.

We were full after this, but the table next to us took a dessert sampler tray and my guests eyes lit up. One between four didn’t seem like a terribly bad idea 😉

Dessert sampler tray

Dessert sampler tray

There are 4 types of ice-cream/sorbit, profiteroles with cream and chocolate sauce, a creme brulee, chocolate mousse and a layered cake in here, as well as the fruit salad.

Dessert sampler from another angle

Dessert sampler from another angle

They use real dark Callebaut chocolate for the sauce, and this was absolutely the highlight in the flavours. The chocolate mousse was good, as was the creme brulee. We detected passion fruit sorbet.. a rum and raisin style one, a raspberry one and vanilla on the fruit salad. The layered cake was my least favourite – it had some coffee flavour to it that I didn’t like. We were fighting to finish – these are small portions, but after a large meal. the richness was a challenge.

The total was not too expensive for 4 people, but we only had 2 starters, 2 mains and one dessert ( and 2 beers and water). This is not a cheap place, with a bowl of mussels costing nearly 25 euros. You can certainly get it cheaper in Brussels, but I have never had such an excellent sauce. I’d say this place was worth the splurge.

And we managed to carry my friend to the toilet, and shift the flower boxes to escape… even with the terrace very much busier than when we had first arrived.

Our waiter was friendly and funny (in excellent English) but sometimes hard to catch given how busy it was. I’d recommend booking if you are a group.

In t’Spinnekopke

Place du Jardin de Fleurs
1000 Brussels

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

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African sunshine

Posted by rachelinbxl on August 11, 2013

One of my favourite places to eat in the summer is the Matonge. This area, near St Boniface, is full of life, character(s). warmth. good food and cheap beer. Their spicy chicken wings get your fingers sticky and you can smell Africa even the next day. The terraces are heated. You share long tables with other diners and everyone is enjoying themselves. Once Brussels jazz kicks off, I have to go to the Matonge for my dose. My boyfriend would go every week if he could.
I won’t pick out one particular restaurant, as “rue de la longue vie” has many and they intermingle. They all serve chicken with onions or peanut sauce, mafe and spicy dip. They also all have tilapia (a fish that is fantastic grilled), goat, plantains, rice. samosas (vegetarian or not) and giant bottles of jupiler served at the table with tiny little glasses. The tables out on the terraces have boxes of tissues to clean your fingers and bowls of insanely hot red chili sauce.
The food is not haute cuisine… and one cannot really go and sit there alone and expect to be left alone.. but everyone is friendly, the food is never bad (though the plantains have been very dry on occasion). Food is cheap. the company is good and you come home feeling warmer just for having been there. Try a mixed plate that features samosas, chicken wings, plantains, rice and peanut sauce (at last testing not very peanutty)….

Tilapia,  plaintain and some leaves

Tilapia, plaintain and some leaves

Their opening hours are indiscernible. Whenever the weather suits eating on a terrace… and they are busy from 12 noon through to 12 midnight!

Anywhere in the Matonge, especially Rue de la Longue Vie
1050 Ixelles
Food: B (varies down to C if you are unlucky)
Atmosphere: A
Service: B Friendly but disinterested.. but that’s OK!
Price: A
Languages: English  and French, or a sort of mix

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