Bite Me, Brussels.

Reviewing food for the foreigners, without all the fluff.

Archive for the ‘Bang for your Buck’ Category

Brussels to Brittany in 20 minutes

Posted by rachelinbxl on March 17, 2013

I am a huge fan of Breton pancakes. The savoury version, often made with buckwheat flour, are richly tasty, with a bitter aftertaste that marries really well with cheese and other toppings. They call this ‘sarrasin’ or ‘ble noir’ and generally call the pancakes galettes rather than crepes.
There are a few places offering these in Brussels, but they are simple to make at home, so I had not ventured to a restaurant. But, of course, if you want more choice of toppings, it is easier in a resto, so my boyfriend persuaded me to test this place, near me in Uccle, yesterday. We wandered in at about 8pm without a reservation and got the last free table. This little place on Avenue Brugmann is a bit offset from other food establishments, and so is not particularly busy. It can only seat about 22 people in total and a party of 10 had made a booking, meaning the rest of us were somewhat crammed together. This was fine as most people finished before we got our food – not that the service was slow, it was impeccable.
My boyfriend took La Jersey – which has cheese, ham, egg, tomato and onion. This was a really filling mix that he loved.

La Jersey

La Jersey

I went for the goats cheese, apple, lardons and honey galette called La Belle Ile. This was because my boyfriend doesn’t really like goat’s cheese, so we don’t use it when we make them at home, but he tried this and decided that with the honey and apple offsetting the bitterness of the goat’s cheese, he actually really liked it. I had to fight him off trying more of it! The pancakes themselves were crispy and delicious and a good serving size. We were also pleasantly surprised to each receive a small salad with our galette – really just a small bowl of iceberg lettuce and carrot with some dressing, but pancakes can feel rather heavy with no fresh vegetables, so I appreciated this touch.
La Belle Ile

La Belle Ile

We were tempted by the offering of a beer from Brittany, but in the end stuck to tradition and took a half of the dry cider. This was still quite sweet, and dangerously drinkable. I love cider with buckwheat pancakes and cheese. I think it’s more refreshing than beer, even if it often gives more of a headache!
Bol de Brut

Bol de Brut

We both were really hoping that they would have salty butter caramel crepes for dessert, and had already checked for it while we were choosing the main course. We were most disappointed when we didn’t find it. Since the waitress was occupied with the party of 10 when we finished our main course, we waited quite a while for the table to be cleared. She was then on a cigarette break and the chef himself asked if we wanted dessert. We confirmed and he offered his speciality – salted butter caramel. We both beamed and immediately ordered two. The result was a delight.
Salty Butter Caramel

Salty Butter Caramel

The crepe itself was not hot – clearly they are prepared and just warmed before serving (the speed of service also told us this)… but this is best since the caramel was also cool and came with vanilla ice cream. They did not skimp on the caramel.. my heart was palipatating at the thought of all the butter I was ingesting, but it was divine. When the waitress came to take the plates (that we had to resist licking clean), I expressed our joy at finding salty caramel, and she pointed out it was on the suggestions board. I suddenly realised that ‘crepe salidou a la glace vanille’ was the salted butter caramel. I felt it wasn’t clear as an option, when others explained far more their content.. but it confirmed for me that we will be going back, if only for dessert!
The restaurant is small and friendly. clearly also family friendly as the two tables next to us both had small children drawing with coloured pencils provided by the owner. They have a dog, but a very well behaved one. The decor is bright and breton, nothing overly chic. We ate for 20 euros each including drinks, so I’d say it is very good value for money. It’s also a fast meal.

Le Triskell, Ave Brugmann (corner of Berkendael)

Food: A
Atmosphere: B
Service: A Very friendly
Price: A
Languages: French

Posted in Bang for your Buck, Drop By, Home Sweet Home | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Japanese supermarket near Flagey

Posted by rachelinbxl on February 26, 2012

** Update April 2012 ** Due to overwhelming requests the supermarket has changed its name back to Tagawa and put the old sign back up outside.. so don’t look for Nagomi anymore! I went back today to test Black Sesame as well as Green Tea ice creams (both chilling in the freezer). I explored upstairs -which is far roomier than downstairs and found yuzu marmelade! Also tried the yuzu and green tea financier selection – EXCELLENT!

In a post from 2009, Pieguybxl gave you an overview of the Kam Yuen supermarket near the Bourse, which for a long time has been my go-to location for all things for my Thai curry, Japanese sushi attempts and also indian curries. I love browsing the selection of utensils nd china at the back, the unknown products in the freezers, the tea, the spices, the fresh vegetables. I love the fact that it is open on Sundays!

But, for the Japanese side of things, I have finally found a competitor! On google maps it shows up as Tagawa, but when you are on Chaussee de Vleurgat, you find Nagomi. It looks like the entrance to a garage, or interior hall, but just keep going towards the back and you will find this tiny, often busy, supermarket. Nearer the street entrance there is also a small tea/china shop with beautiful Japanese imports also.

But Nagomi is a Japanese store, with an in-house sushi slicer! You can order your fish by phone, saying whether you want it for nigiri or maki, and he will prepare the fish. They also have pre-made sushi on site, as well as seaweed salads, sake, and the amazing Belgo-Japanese collaboration OWA beer. Try it! It’s a very good beer! They stock ingredients for far more than just sushi though. I was just passing through, to see what they had so didn’t have time to explore all the freezers and the recipe section upstairs. I will be back for a tub of the black sesame ice cream however!!! Our visiting Japanese researcher swears by this shop, and I think I may become a fan too!

Chaussée de Vleurgat 119
1000 Bruxelles

02 648 59 11

Posted in Bang for your Buck, Get it to go | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Test all the restos at once!

Posted by rachelinbxl on August 23, 2011

The first weekend in August, Leuven hosts Hapje Tapje – a name meaning small drinks and snacks. Restaurants have stands in the streets and vie to make the best tasty morsel to tempt the passers by. There is even a prize for the best snack.
It has become quite the institution and people go for lunch and dinner, eating at the small tables in the streets, as well as on any green patch of grass. Snacks vary in price from 1-6 euros. Some are hot, some are cold; some are better value for money than others.

The main restaurant stands are in the Muntstraat, the Hogeschoolplein and the small street between the two, as well as the start of the Naamsestraat. Old favourites are Mykene and Kokoon, who always have something interesting to test (this year ZEBRA with wok noodles!)… we also enjoy comparing samosas from all the Indian/Nepali restaurants, though were most disppointed in 2008 when our winning restaurant closed down soon after. EverestBasecamp is also reliable though, and De Werf’s desset buffet is always insanely popular.

The Oude Markt hosts the annual bar man race – which is worth a visit. The winner from last year starts the race, and the bar(wo)man who completes the fastest circuit of the packed Leuven streets with the most beer still in the glasses on their trays is the winner. Some take it more seriously than others – but onlookers certainly have a laugh!
This year, for the first time, the Oude Markt had Hapje Tapje glasses for rent (we kept ours), meaning one could take smaller (cheaper) beers. The selection of beers is always better than for the rest of the year, with some interesting breweries attending. This year we also tested Belgian wine (not so impressive).

I heartily recommend the Hapje Tapje experience to all foreigners – and Leuven is a must see in Belgium anyway!

Hapje Tapje (in dutch)
All over Leuven
First weekend in August each year

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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 »

Finger food that fills

Posted by rachelinbxl on June 23, 2010

30 August 2011: Update

There are, in fact, two great Ethiopian restaurants that I know of in Belgium: Kokob (Brussels, details below) and the House of Lalibela (Leuven). The doro wat (chicken with egg and berbere sauce) is spicier in Brussels, and the selection is larger, but the Leuven restaurant is smaller, cosier and gives more ingera (both supply more on request)! I find the spinach dishes better in Leuven, and the portions may be slightly larger.  Both need reservation in advance.

House of Lalibela
Food: A
Atmosphere: A
Service: B
Price: B
Languages: English


23 June 2010: I read on trip advisor recently that the Kokob Ethiopian restaurant in the centre of Brussels is the 4th most popular resto. So perhaps this review is superfluous; but it’s a good restaurant, and I finally remembered to take my camera. So here goes.
The Kokob is a large Ethiopian restaurant just a few metres from Manneken Pis. It is very popular, and you MUST book, especially at weekends. The decor is interesting (check out the frame filled with dried orange slices) and the back of the restaurant is a lovely green. The smell is inviting and there are regular photo exhibitions and musical events to attract yet more people. I took 4 friends there, and we sampled a veggie mega mix.
You are welcomed with a cocktail of hibiscus, pineapple and rum (nonalcoholic available). At lunchtime they also bring a small snack of bulger wheat in a pleasant dressing.
There are pre-chosen menus for 1,2, 4 people. These are generally OK, but we wanted 100 % veggie (note for meat eaters, they use halal meat and do not serve pork). If you order a la carte, be warned that there must be a dish per person at the table, and they don’t count salads. It will automatically come with the house salad of plain fresh cheese, lettuce, tomato and cucumber and a small serving of the spicy spinach and cheese mix. All will be dollopped onto a huge serving tray covered with ingera (ethiopian pancakes) and you will be given another basket of strips of ingera to eat with. Everyone eats with their fingers from the same tray (or 2 trays if you are really a large group).
So, what is in the picture? their tofu with spinach (really good); a spicy spinach in tomato (good); lentils in a tomatoey sauce (not bad); the potato, cabbage and carrot dish (sweet, bland, but pleasant); an aubergine dish, and my personal favourite – the spicy cheese and spinach salad.
We did not take the veggie options of split peas and shalots (I found it far too liquid to eat with my fingers), nor the potato and beetroot (also rather bland and uninspiring).

Kokob veggie mix

It you take meat, we recommend the chicken berber, which is a very spicy sauce on one chicken drumstick, with a boiled egg. It is a typical ethiopian dish and they prepare it very well. Take fresh cheese to cool your mouth down!
The result is very filling. This is the first time we had space to even try a dessert (sugar and coffee tart). I was disappointed and wouldn’t bother again!

They have a large wine list, but we took beers. They also do hibiscus drinks, ginger, and fresh fruit juices. The real Ethiopian coffee is a treat, and we recommend it. They also have unusual teas (lavender infusion anyone?) The restaurant is loud at weekends (large open space full of people sharing food).. and the service can be a little slow… but they are very friendly and welcoming, so I still rate it very highly.
For a restaurant right near the centre, the price is right, the food is reliably good, exotically interesting and fun to share. Enjoy!

Kokob (watch out the site plays music)
Rue des Grands Carmes
1000 Bruxelles

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

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