Bite Me, Brussels.

Reviewing food for the foreigners, without all the fluff.

Archive for the ‘Drop By’ Category

Bite Me Update

Posted by rachelinbxl on July 8, 2013

A common problem with a blog is going back to check old posts are still relevant. Has the cuisine got better/worse? Has the price/quality ratio changed? Is the restaurant even still there?
Well, this weekend I wanted to go back to this cafe: Ethiopian Coffee and it isn’t there. However, I am told it has just moved to Place St Jean, Brussels centre. Can anyone confirm this?

Also, while in the Marolles, I stopped by the stock up on beers at ‘Au nom de la biere’, mentioned in this post on burger and beer. The shop is rented from the hotel next to the public swimming pool on Place de Jeu de Balles, and they want the space back. So they are closing down and beer is 30-50% reduced. I got a 3 Fonteinen Schaerbeekse Kriek 75cl bottle for 16 euros… so anyone wanting to try hard to find bottles… get over to the Marolles before 25 July! Stop by for mussels and the Bal National on 21 July even! The shop is open on Sundays.

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Wine and dine in the Marolles

Posted by rachelinbxl on June 29, 2013

This Bite Me Brussels contributor is a big fan of beer and wine, as well as good food. Of course, this is also due to the delightful way wine and beer can complement food. I joined a Meetup group that goes wine tasting twice a month, and my first attendance was a delightful discovery.
I already like the Marolles area of Brussels, below the Palais de Justice, really just two parallel streets of antique shops, the giant flea market and vintage shops that spring up around it, endless brunch possibilities and it’s open on Sundays. What’s not to like?
But I have never been there in the evening during the week.
So, Wednesday evening in the Marolles, this Meetup took 20 wine fans to the relatively new ‘Studio 126’. This opened in March 2013 and is run by a lovely Belgian-English-Italian couple. He is an oenologist and makes his own wine (in italy). He takes care of the wine side of the shop. She is an interior designer, hence the lovely wall painting, and takes care of the ‘knick-knacks’ side of the shop.

Our oenologist and the lovely interior design of Studio 126

Our oenologist and the lovely interior design of Studio 126

The wine selection is modest, but well chosen for variety and price range. It is not exclusively Italian, but does concentrate on Italian wines.
There offer tasting by the glass on a selection of bottles (price varies according to the price of the bottle). They also have Italian charcuterie and cheeses to go with the wines (all excellent in their own right, and hard to get hold of in Belgium).
So.. one can drop by for some excellent council in Italian grape varieties, styles, regions and flavours… taste a glass … try some Italian treats, and maybe buy a bottle for later.
Every other Friday evening, they serve an Italian aperitif, with a dish and a glass of wine at a fixed price. They also offer 3 small tables during the weekend and serve pasta or risotto, again with wine. The offerings are typically Italian, so you might want to call and check if you don’t want to try squid or intestines.

In short, I went to a wine tasting and discovered a place that I want to go for a Friday night apero, or a Sunday meal! Guests are welcomed as friends and the mix of wine and interior design makes for a lovely setting to discover some sunshine in a glass. Really necessary this June in Belgium!

My favourite of those sampled

My favourite of those sampled

Studio 126
Rue Blaes 126, 1000 Bruxelles (in the Marolles area)

Food: not yet tested
Wine: excellent
Atmosphere: A
Service: A  very friendly and knowledgeable
Price: B
Languages: French, Italian, English, a little Dutch

Posted in Brew in Bruxelles, Drop By, Home Sweet Home, Hot List | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

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 »

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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Charli’s Chocolate Croissant

Posted by rachelinbxl on April 21, 2012

I enjoy reading the Eurostar magazine on my train rides to and from London. They have interesting short reviews on London, Paris and Brussels ‘places to be’. New restaurants and cafes are highlighted, as well as an interview with a local person on their average saturday wander, including a few favourite shops and a cafe. That was how I came to read a review of Charli’s Boulangerie. I’ve seen this bakery a hundred times. It’s on the street down from the Asian supermarket, next to the shop dedicated to all things mushroom /fungi and opposite the Noordzee, just before Place St Catherine. I had never noticed the queue, however. Once I heard that it did ‘the best pain au chocolat’ in Brussels, I had to try. So, having made my Sunday pilgrimage to South station market, and then the less frequent shop at Kam Yuen for Thai curry ingredients, I dragged my heavy shopping bags to Charli in search of a quick sugar and butter rush. Well, with that queue, in the drizzle, it had better be the BEST pain au chocolat EVER.

I am not a pain au chocolat fan. I don’t like the shape, I think. Croissants have this beautiful, promising crescent moon shape (hence their name), and the middle tip that is folded over is often delightfully crunchy for its extra exposure to the heat of the oven. Pain aux raisins (sometimes called escargots) have a delightful snail shell shape, and are stuffed with raisins, which I adore. They come in crunchy, or soggy with the sort of custard cream they envelope in the spirals. I love both. But pain au chocolat is like a long fat sausage roll. It is unappealing. Also, whilst I adore chocolate, I am not a fan of it IN my bread products. So luckily the review had spoken highly of a pumpkin seed coated loaf of bread made with beer. This encouraged me to stay in the queue. I could at least watch through the tall windows as the staff feverishly emptied fresh products from the ovens and stocked the shelves. The 2 servers were also working very efficiently (most un-Belgian), so I felt sure that the queue down the street wouldn’t take long. Indeed I was served in less than 10 minutes. Not even the time I had had to wait for a tram to get into town. Not bad.

There was no pumpkin beer bread. I opted instead for a loaf with figs and walnuts (3 eur). I resisted (with difficulty) the fresh almond croissants being unloaded into the display and took a pain au chocolat (1.3 eur). I started eating the ‘slug’ on the way to the tram stop. Charli opts for the double chocolate tram tracks in their pain au chocolat. A good start, because if you’re going to put chocolate in pastry, it should be very present. The top was a crunchy shell, but the interior was very bread like (white fluffy bread – not the sourdough type that I had just bought too, but not fine layers of patisserie). I was rather unimpressed, but felt it would really benefit from being warm, so managed to hold myself in until I could get home and wack it in a hot oven for 3 mins.

Pain aux figues et noix... et un pain au chocolat

This is the loaf and the half eaten pain au chocolat before they went in the oven. Since I was warming things, I also put in a slice of the bread and enjoyed that with butter and marmalade. The bread is excellent – the fig and nut add a little something without being too overpowering. The texture is fantastic. The pain au chocolat was improved by the warmth. The chocolate that had escaped on the underside was runny and hot, but inside the roll was still solid. The top was definitely crunchy, but the inside still a little bread-like. Almost brioche. I have to say I might have been better with a croissant.

Charli’s has a sit down area, but it was packed on a Sunday at 11:30. Maybe a place to try mid-week! Next time I’m in the area I’ll see if I can test that beer and pumpkin loaf… and maybe give in to an almond croissant.

Charli Bakery

34 rue Saint Catherine
Brussels

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

Posted in Break your fast, Chill Corner, Drop By | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »