Bite Me, Brussels.

Reviewing food for the foreigners, without all the fluff.

Posts Tagged ‘Non Smoking’

Cellars and lofts in Ixelles

Posted by rachelinbxl on February 11, 2012

My Christmas present to myself this year was 2 books on Belgian beer. The first – Best of Belgian beers and where to drink them in Belgium… the second, 100 Belgian Beers to Try Before You Die!!
A rather dramatic title.. but gives the highlights in each category of beer, and doesn’t just focus on Westvleteren 12 (tried it, it’s good.. but so is Watou, St Bernadus and others from the area with similar recipes 😉
BUT.. as usual.. these ‘best beers’ are not on tap (or even in bottle) at most of the bars in Brussels. Moeder Lambic and Delirium are well known, and rightly so.. but rather popular.. and one needs a change now and again. So, when a friend suggested we test L’Atlier in Ixelles which has 150 beers on the menu, I was all for it! It’s near the Roffian tram stop, so easy enough to get to (and home from, as most of the Beers To Try Be4 you Die are strong enough to kick a few years off your life, certainly if you try to cycle home in the snowy February weather we are having)…. so off we went. It happened to be a Thursday, and in Ixelles near the university, this means lots of students. This meant the bar was busy.. but be warned that it still LOOKS closed. In fact, you could walk past without really realising there is a bar in Rue Elise. It’s got a sign out, but the door looks like a garage door, and the friend I was meeting actually called to say it was closed and was surprised when I said I was inside! Just push!
The permanent beer list is sorted by category and alphabetically. There are also black boards with specials. The service is fairly slow on a busy night, and the beers do not all come in their own special glass (somewhat sacriligeous in Belgium), but the choice is wide and I could tick two more of the list of 100 I must try (now up to 31 of them). The bar is cosy enough, in the typical hard wooden stool and table Belgian style; the toilets are down some steep stairs. Worth a try for the beer lover in Ixelles. Beer makes you hungry, however… and just round the corner we found a pleasant resto to test.
Elizastraat 77, 1050 Ixelles, Belgium
Beer: A
Atmosphere: B
Service: B
Price: B+
Languages: French, English

Le Grenier d’Elvire has a very French feel to it – the curtains to keep the cold out, the menu, wine by the glass. The prices are a bit above normal for Brussels, but fair given the portions. My companion took the cheeseburger and fries. Apologies for the quality of the image – I only had my mobile phone with me, not the real camera.
Cheeseburger and fries
This was polished off in double quick time, so I didn’t get to test.. but the meat was not overcooked, but not bloody, and there was a good portion of fries.
Goats Cheese Salad
My goats cheese salad was a little light on the actual green leaves, but very tasty with the lardons, honey vinagrette and the toasted cheese on bread. The service was fast and friendly. When we arrived, it was empty, but by the time we had finished it was definitely filling up – clearly a popular address in the area. Maybe I should pop back and see if they make a good tartiflette. It was on the menu.. but I couldn’t quite face it after 2 beers!
Le Grenier d’Elvire
Chaussée de Boondael 339/A, 1050 Ixelles, Belgium
Food: B
Atmosphere: A
Service: A
Price: B
Languages: French, English

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Dragon City

Posted by rachelinbxl on October 17, 2010

Once a year, Belgium has Resto Days. This year 200 restaurants offered lunch at 21 Euros or dinner at 28 euros instead of their usual price (which varies). Bookings for the Michelin starred restaurants must be made very far in advance, so I chose a less well known place with availability. La Cite du Dragon in Uccle is a crazy kitsch palace near the Foret de Soignes with dragons, lions and fountains out the front. The menu available for restodays was a mixed starter plate – of various seafood. The scallop was excellent, the unidentified substance with prawns in the tomato was suspicious, and the crunchy parcel was interesting. The spicy sauce was just right. The plate was a good meal opener, varied but not too filling.

The entreeDuck with pineapple and ginger

The duck with pineapple and slightly cured ginger was excellent, but a very heavy plate. The bass was served on ‘waves’ of cucumber, wrapped around asparagus and served with orange mustard. The flavours were delicate and the textures amazing. But this dish was less filling (lucky I could share the duck). All the dishes were presented beautifully on fantastic plates.

Bass with orange mustardCreme brulee au jasmin with yuzu sorbet

They saved the best for last though – jasmine flavour creme brulee and yuzu sorbet. The jasmine flavour was subtle and more of an aftertaste than a flavour onslaught. The yuzu sorbet was a taste explosion that made the creme brulee pale in comparison, but they actually went very well together.

The service was incredibly attentive without being overdone. The restaurant has carp swimming under the floor in the main foyer and an outside pool area that you can wander. It’s a huge place with lots of glass windows and impressive toilets. Apparently there is a buffet Fridays and Sundays for 25 euros. Maybe I’ll check it out now I’ve seen the quality of the food.

La Cite du Dragon
1024 Chaussee de Waterloo

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

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Blue Chocolate

Posted by rachelinbxl on September 19, 2010

Blue Chocolate is the name of a fairly chic restaurant on Place Saint Job in Uccle. They have a wide choice of interesting dishes on the menu, but the main reason most people I know go there is for the lunch. It is near our office and they offer a menu at 14 euros of a starter and main course with one glass of house wine (red or white). The menu changes each day, but is a fixed selection. We booked for 18 people for a birthday party.
The decor is classy – brown walls with interesting art and beautiful flowers on the table. The restaurant is large, but in length, so it is not one loud open space. There is a lovely garden out the back in summer.
The birthday girl arrived at 12:20, and we ordered aperitifs. They took over 20 minutes to come, and in fact one girls hadnt arrived even when they had taken the meal orders!
Most people took the fixed menu, but I branched out on the amazing sounding ‘half cooked salmon filet with honey and lime sauce, served with daikon and beetroot and small maki’.
The starters for the others arrived quite quickly. One shrimp coquette. Small, but very tasty was the report. However the service, which had not been fast even before, then stalled. It took ages for the main course to arrive and for those of us without starters, we were getting rather hungry!

It was 13:20 by the time the food arrived. But it was worth the wait. I started before the other dishes arrived, since half cooked salmon cools off fast ;-).

The piece of fish itself was excellent and it was extremely well cooked. I found the mix of honey and lime really really interesting. I wasn’t sure that that should be combined with the daikon and beetroot mix, but those vegetables were very good together. The little maki’s were a small dose of carbohydrates but luckily Blue Chocolate gives excellent bread with the meal. The dish of the day was actually also salmon, but a very thin slice compared to my brick, and reportedly a little dry despite the light mustardy sauce. The fries were served in a ceramic mock fries cone with the burger at the other end of the table.
A surprise cake had been booked beforehand, so we weren’t too worried once the main course arrived. They cleared the table quickly and we were waiting at 13:30…. nothing… at 13:45 I got up to leave for a meeting, and then the cake appeared, with candles… so I sat back down. Once she had blown out the candles however the cake disappeared to be cut.. and there was no sign of it before 14:00. I actually got up and requested mine to go since I couldnt not afford the time that was clearly going to be necessary for everyone to get a piece, eat it, pay and leave. They got back at 15:00!
So, the food is really really good… no fault there, but the service is really slow. They should perhaps have constrained a group of 18 to a fixed menu; after all at lunchtime they must know that noone wants to wait long.

Blue Chocolate
24, Place Saint Job
1180 Uccle

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

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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

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Going, going, GONG

Posted by rachelinbxl on May 27, 2010

The Gong restaurant next to the Ixelles cemetery was a lucky find on I was looking for good, cheap-ish food near a friend in Ixelles and this one had the nicest website. On arrival, I discovered the major roadworks going on in the area. This meant the resto was much emptier than normal. In fact, there were only 3 groups in with us. So service was speedy and attentive. The menu had already looked very interesting online, a mix of Japanese dishes (sushi, sashimi and tempura – with some exotic twists), and more typical Vietnamese dishes. I chose the mixed tempura dish and my friend took the chicken with red curry and coconut. The dishes arrived very quickly. The mixed tempura had 2 mangetout peapods, one baby sweetcorn, one asparagus stick, a piece of pumpkin or sweet potato, an aubergine slice, a scallop, 2 prawns and one unidentified vegetable (yummy). This was served with a weak soy sauce, and horseradish. Each item was perfectly cooked and the tempura batter was crunchy. The only problem is eating fast enough to enjoy all items hot, whilst not feeling sick or not fully appreciating each flavour!
The chicken was grilled, with dried coconut and a piece of lotus root. The curry sauce was served on the side and was not overly spicy (or overly coconutty.. a slight disappointment, but nice to be able to choose the amount). Each was served with a pot of rice (not only plain white).
I forgot my camera, so I hope this is enough of a description.
We enjoyed both dishes and took a long pause before dessert to enjoy our wine. At this point, the owner (a lovely Vietnamese lady) came over to chat with us about how we had found the restaurant (and complain about the roadworks damaging business). Gong has only been open for 6 months bu has built up a name in the neighbourhood… I’d say it was justified. She was determined that we should try a dessert… and even brought the cakes over to show us. My friend chose a sort of pistachio bavarois, while I took omochi, a traditional japanese rice ball filled with red aduki bean paste. We each had these with black sesame ice cream.
At this point my friend remembered she could take a photo with her camera, so we have a picture of the amazing ice cream. it was a very unusual flavour, not overly sweet, but really really good!

Cake with black sesame ice cream

I really liked this restaurant. The decor is very zen -open and airy, tastefully decorated. Let me know what you think!

Restaurant Gong
489 Chaussee de Boondael

Food: A-
Atmosphere: A
Service: A-
Price: B+
Languages: French, English, Probably also Vietnamese!

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