Bite Me, Brussels.

Reviewing food for the foreigners, without all the fluff.

Posts Tagged ‘dinner’

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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Ce soir on dine a Marrakech

Posted by rachelinbxl on April 18, 2013

Ce soir on dine a Marrakech (tonight we dine in Marrakech) is one of those restaurants that is so near by that I never get around to going. Ave Brugmann is not a concentration of restaurants, so you have to choose to go to this one. I finally made it with 2 work colleagues. which means the photos are lower quality (it is strange to be photographing a colleague’s dinner so I didn’t like to try a few times to get a picture without steam)!
The decor is very Moroccan – possibly more so than IN Morocco. The tables are large round ones on metal legs, with the trays on them for tea and so on. The chairs around the walls are laced with cushions in bright colours, and those Moroccan lamps hang everywhere.
The owner is clearly Moroccan and the welcome is thus warm. They immediately brought olives and the menu. It was a hard choice.

The restaurantTray tables

In the end I went for chicken with preserved lemon and olives – a reliable favourite dish. My colleagues chose lamb with mixed vegetables (shown on the left) and lamb with apricots (too far away to photograph). We ordered couscous to go with these. All of them were tasty.  Dried fruit goes well with lamb, but does make the tajine sweet. I prefer green olives to the violet variety, but these are more tangy and go well with the lemon. All of us felt there was a lot of meat (and bones – be careful). The service was attentive, but not overly so.

Lamb and vegetablesChicken and preserved lemon

I’d have loved to try sweets, but we didn’t have space for anything more than mint tea. but this was served traditionally and was excellent. I’m only giving it a B on price because it is not the best value for money Moroccan I have tried in Belgium. It’s also not the widest choice, nor the highest flavour rating.. but it’s good… and if you are in the area it is worth stopping in to Dine in Marrakech.

Mint Tea

Ce soir on dine a Marrakech
Ave Brugmann 408,
1180 Uccle

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

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Farmers seafood?

Posted by rachelinbxl on September 3, 2010

Along St Catherine there are numerous seafood restaurants. I have tried a few, but almost always when we have meetings at work and need to take foreigners out for mussels, so I would categorise most of them as tourist traps where you pay over the odds for a bowl of mussels. However, for a friend’s leaving party he recommended Bij Den Boer (literally, at the Farmer’s Place) on St Catherine. I was intrigued, as it’s name implied it might not be a seafood joint.
It is. Mainly. They do serve a few meat dishes, but I wasn’t tempted to deviate from their specialties. I dared my first pot of moules with frites ever!
Once we had ordered, we got a free appetizer, which was a bowl of really fresh shrimps. They still ‘had their clothes on’, which put off a couple of diners, but the rest of us gaily peeled them.

Mise en bouche


Then the Piece de Resistance arrived: the mussels. At our table we had 4 pots of mussels and 2 of their fish dishes. The mussels were excellent. This does, of course, depend on the season, but I am told that this restaurant won’t serve mussels unless they are OK. They offer white wine, cream, garlic, provencale, cream and garlic or ‘house special’ versions of mussels. I chose cream and garlic.

So here are the moules and the frites. The sauce was not overbearing. In fact, I think they were cooked in just the cream, onion and leak as always, and it was the small extra pot of sauce that we got that had the garlic in. Either way, it was excellent and the fries were the equal of any of the good friet stands in Brussels. We also got bread (no point, we didn’t have room).

The Restaurant’s special cod was truly excellent. We didn’t ask exactly what it was, but the sauce clearly had basil in it. It served on a bed of creamy mashed potato and though it looked small in the huge bowl, it was a very decent serving. I couldn’t finish the whole pot of mussels, so my friend helped me out by transferring a few mussels into the remaining sauce, hence the picture of the mussel 6-pack next to the cod. None of us had space for dessert, however tempting the chocolate mousse, tarte tatin or creme brulee looked.
The place is welcoming, not too large and not too small. Bookings are a necessity and it was packed on a Thursday night, but the noise level was still very good. Service was slightly snobbish, but very efficient and very polite. Definitely one of the better restaurants I have tried in Brussels, though not the cheapest. It is a fair price-quality ratio. A bowl of mussels with all the trimmings is 22 euros. We had wine, so the total was 30 euros per person. You can get cheaper on the Quai, but I don’t think they’d be as good 😉
Next time work is offering to pay for dinner, I’ll recommend the seafood from these farmers!

Bij Den Boer
Quai aux Briques 60
1000 Brussels

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

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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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