Bite Me, Brussels.

Reviewing food for the foreigners, without all the fluff.

Posts Tagged ‘dessert’

Solid Belgian food in Art Nouveau decor

Posted by rachelinbxl on February 6, 2014

I’d been to the Porteuse d’Eau before but just for a drink. I had Japanese friends visiting and wanted something Belgian, and pretty. The Porteuse d’Eau is a wonderful Art Nouveau cadre, without the food being insanely overpriced (.e.g the Museum of Musical Instruments which is another beautiful location I took them too, but the food was severely unimpressive for the price).
It was only when we got there (an easy walk from South Station) that I realised there are steps (3) to get in. But they were very accommodating of my friend in the wheelchair. We carried her, and they carried the chair! They set us up near the bar and were very friendly.

Art Nouveau ceiling and paintings

Art Nouveau ceiling and paintings

My friends loved the decor.
La Porteuse d'eau

La Porteuse d’eau from outside – it looks inviting, doesn’t it?

Choosing dishes was challenging. We went for 4 very different dishes, of different sizes, and just shared everything. The traditional black and white sausage with potatoes and apple sauce had to be tested! The white sausage was quite bland, but the black one was well spiced. I don’t particularly like the sweet apple with this, but it is traditional, and was well prepared.

Duo de boudins, apple sauce and potatoes

Duo de boudins, apple sauce and potatoes

As did witloof gratin – the famous Belgian endive, wrapped in ham, cooked in a bechamel sauce, covered with mashed potato and put in the oven (a bit like shepherd’s pie). I have an intense dislike of endive..  despite really trying to learn to like it. This did not change my mind. The bitterness of this vegetable is too much for my palate. But the japanese loved it.

Chicons au gratin

Chicons au gratin

Our third dish was a bit more Dutch – maatjes – or herrings. They came with more endive (but raw – a little easier to manage) and apple, in a salad. This was fresh and very tasty. Quite smokey, and a smaller serving of course. We all enjoyed trying it, but I think a whole plate of this would have been herring and endive overdose for me.

The fourth dish (in the background) was an aubergine gratin. This was cheesy, crunchy and decent, but didn’t offer a particularly interesting flavour. Compared to the other dishes, this was a disappointment. But it was good to have a few vegetables on the table!

Maatjes with endive and apple salad

Maatjes with endive and apple salad

La Porteuse d’Eau has an impressive list of beers. I tried another off my list of 100 Belgian beers to try before I die. It was pleasant, but not as tasty as some of the others. My Japanese friends are very sensitive to alcohol, so tried the Jupiler without alcohol. I had not previously tested Belgian beer without.. but this one is surprisingly good. Hoegaarden 0% doesn’t really taste like beer to me (though it is a very refreshing lemon/coriander fizzy drink, and I like it).. this is more like a beer, though a bit more honey-flavoured. It went well with the Belgian food – where I find other soft drinks quickly mask the taste.

Good choice of beer, including no alcohol

Good choice of beer, including no alcohol

By sharing the heavy, and less heavy, dishes, we had space to share 2 desserts. I had already introduced my friends to Liege waffles that one can eat while wandering Brussels streets. The Brussels waffle is much harder to do this with, so we had one here. It was not a great example of one – not being very hot, and just coming with icing sugar and whipped cream. They preferred the light and fluffy texture of this waffle however. Perhaps also because Liege ones are So sweet.

Brussels waffle with whipped cream

Brussels waffle with whipped cream

The apple pie came warm, with nuts and raisins and cinnamon, served with ice cream. It was pretty good.

Warm apple pie with ice cream

Warm apple pie with ice cream

All in all, I’d say this was a great place to take visitors for a Belgian meal that doesn’t break the bank. It also want astound your taste buds… but it’s a beautiful building. We even made sure to carry my friend upstairs so she could see the upstairs room and the lovely toilets, that are also decorated. The staff were very friendly, the service was efficient whilst still being a bit Belgian (we don’t really care, you’ll have to wave to get another beer)….I wouldn’t bother for myself… but for visiting foreigners, I’d say this was a good location for a meal.

La Porteuse d’Eau
Av Jean Volders
1160 St Giles

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

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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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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 »

A gingerbread house in the woods

Posted by rachelinbxl on May 7, 2010

Friends of mine recently helped me discover The Wood.

The Wood

Deep in the heart of Bois de la Cambre (TerkamerenBos) on the edge of Uccle, Bruxelles Ville and Ixelles, there is an idyllic centre of calm and strange plant life that serves a decent brunch on sundays. The door is round on the far end of the building (many of the windows look like doors!)

We were 10 people, and had booked, but it was not actually very busy; it might have been because of the crazy rain we had! For 25 euros you have access to the buffet from 11am till 3pm (and I hear they have stayed later, but were finally kicked out at 4pm).

The buffet bar


There is a very decent selection of cold cuts, warm dishes, salads, breads and pastries, really good fresh juices… etc. I’m not sure how much changes each week, but will be going back to test it again for sure!

Herring

I was really pleased with their fresh fish. The herring was excellent, as was the salmon. The beef carpaccio was also good, served with shaved parmesan and a mustardy sauce. The salad was well dressed, but in a rather small bowl. The coffees were generous, although not included in the price, which I had misunderstood, but never mind.

Lait Russe


There were also warm dishes that I didnt photograph. They had canneloni, another meat dish with bacon and something else that I avoided. I had just had a BBQ the night before so I was more in the mood for salads and fish. Plus, of course, the desserts.

Pastries and bread

They also add a few specialities each time. Last time it was pancakes cooked in front of you. This time it was profiteroles with hot chocolate sauce.

Profiteroles with hot chocolate sauce

All these delights are served on Villeroy and Boch china, with their matching cutlery (frightfully chic, take a large bag and something to muffle the sound of you nicking one of their Bodum themo glasses)…. in fact those Bodum glasses are dangerous. You can’t feel the heat of your lovely fresh mint tea, so you burn your mouth.

I would suggest staying long enough to need to use the facilities, as the toilets are a tourist attraction in themselves. I won’t say any more, or the post will need a spoiler alert. Take a while to wander around and admire the fountain and the strange bottle of Absolut vodka near the door.

My only 1 negative point was that, since it is a serve yourself buffet, the waiters are much more involved chatting to each other or serving the few other guests who order a la carte. Getting their attention to order coffee/tea required really walking up to the bar. But its a small gripe.
It is off the beaten track, but I imagine in the summer it will get busy with people wanting to spend a day in the park. There were seats outside, but the joy of this sunday buffet was having the whole spread to ourselves!

The Wood
Floralaan, Bois de la Cambre

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

Posted in Break your fast, Chill Corner | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

The Ultimate Atom?

Posted by rachelinbxl on March 23, 2010

29/4/2011 I’m afraid I have to update this post as I ate here again last night with 2 friends and we were bitterly disappointed with the food. The place still has a very good choice of beer and wine, and I love the decor… but we tried the traditional beef carbonnade and though it was good, I have had better – the sauce was very runny… we also had two of the daily specials: swordfish mille feuilles which was served in an awful sweet cinnamon sauce and a very dry portion of gratin dauphinois that was charged extra. My ‘solettes’ (mini soles) in vine leaves and green curry was a sort of cooked sushi rolled in vine leaves rather than nori and served with a heated out of the pot of DL curry sauce (nothing even remotely related to proper green curry!). The desserts were also disappointing – the lemon meringue pie the least so, but the tarte tatin wasn’t half what it was last year and the tiramisu was really poor. Will not be eating here again…. what a shame!

23/03/2010 There have already been posts on l’Ultime Atome here on BiteMeBrussels. In fact, that is why I went. It intrigued me. The place has always caught my eye – its a nice building in a nice area. It’s much bigger inside than it seems from the outside. A positive tardis for food. We arrived for an early saturday lunch; most people were still on their morning coffees, so the waiters were running around with the little Illy cups and there were plenty of tables free for lunch. We didn’t really bother investigating for a good location, just took the nearest table in the non-smoking area. I realised later that this is huge.

The service is good – attentive and fast enough for such a large location. We were served by 3 different girls, but each got everything right.

I chose the lamb glazed with honey and thyme, served with potatoes. Boy was that a good choice. Cooked’a point, I don’t like my lamb too bloody.

Lamb brochetteLamb brochette glazed with honey and thyme, served with oranges, grapefruit, almonds
Gratin dauphinois

The most amazing Gratin dauphinois I have ever tasted

The meat was tender and not too sweet, despite the honey. The idea of adding the oranges and grapefruit to offset the sweetness was good, but I would have appreciated a few vegetables. However, they won me over with the potatoes. There were two ‘portions’. One looked like a slice of tarte tatin, and was just normal potatoes. The other was a true gratin dauphinois, without too much creamy sauce, but with layers of sweet potato in with the normal. Cooked to perfection and truly amazing. I confess I didn’t let my friend try much!

Vegetable linguine with fresh goats cheese

Vegetable linguine with fresh goats cheese

He had the vegetable linguine with fresh goats cheese. It was a huge bowl but he ‘just had to finish it, because it was so good’. A good mix of fresh tomato pieces, mushroom, spring onion, parsley and a light cream did indeed go well with the al dente pasta. A good Belgian edition of an Italian dish.

We shouldn’t have taken dessert too, but since my friend had just driven me to Decathlon and Aveve I decided I owed him dessert too, so I insisted. We couldn’t choose one to share, so we took two to share 😉

Cheesecake

The Ulitmate Cheesecake

Tarte Tatin

Tarte Tatin

We chose the Tarte tatin and the speculoos cheesecake. We were not disappointed. The tarte tatin was hot, crispy and melty. It could have had a touch more caramelised butter, but I felt it was better not overdone. The cheesecake was amazing. Speculoos biscuits add a real luxury touch to cheesecake. I wont go back to digestives now. The topping was rich and creamy. It even outdid the tarte francois cheesecake I had at Quartier Libre last week (see previous post). I was impressed. So was my friend. We even wondered about distracting the large number of staff and trying to make off with the entire cheesecake in the fridge by the door. But we resisted.

All in all, for 20 euros per person, an amazing meal. I will be coming back to try the hot chocolate….

L’Ultime Atome
St. Boniface

Food: A-
Atmosphere: A
Price: A-
Service: A-

Languages: French, English

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