Bite Me, Brussels.

Reviewing food for the foreigners, without all the fluff.

Posts Tagged ‘Sainte Catherine’

Best Hot Chocolate Competition part 1

Posted by rachelinbxl on October 15, 2012

Of course, one of the things we are spoiled for choice on in Belgium is all things cocoa related!

I have my favourite chocolatiers – Zaabar and Blondeel are on the list. Zaabar for their chocolate bars of different cocoa origins, and Blondeel for their hot chocolates. There are others I must try – Wittamer is one I have often heard recommended. But I stick to St Catherine for this post.

The tea house has varied the selection in the past, but recently stuck to tried and tested – Venezuela – lower cocoa content but with chili powder and lemongrass flavour, Ghana (85% coca) with vanilla, cinnamon and aniseed (not strong), Madagascar (63% simple cocoa and milk), Safraan – more expensive 63% topped with frothed milk and real safran, and the 100% cocoa with mountain honey – that I love but that shouldn’t be considered as a drinking chocolate 😉

Madagascar Ghana – velvety smooth, vanilla undertones
Ghana Venezuela – more milky, with chili powder and lemongrass
The tea room The decor – Mayan?

If you go with  few people, try each! I’m also told their coffees are excellent. Their tea suffers from the typical Belgian problem of not being served hot enough in my British opinion. The Ghana is stronger on the cocoa content, and velvety smooth. The Venezuela was very hot on the chili to start with, with the lemongrass coming through more towards the bottom of the cup. This one is harder to taste the cocoa, it’s somewhat overpowered. The safran one was the biggest disappointment to me. It’s more expensive and much milkier. Maybe my palate is not refined enough, but I couldn’t taste the safran in this. My favourite remains the 100% – but I eat it with a spoon. It is not sweet, nor milky, despite being based on milk and chocolate. The honey adds a delightful wild flavour to the cocoa, but this is not a refreshing drink. It’s a medicinal pick me up filled with endorphins and feel-good factor!

They always put 2 chocolates beside your hot chocolate, as well as a glass of water that is much appreciated. One is their most famous praline based on florentine pieces – caramelised sugar with small nuts in it. You can ask to select chocolates from the counter for a small extra cost to enjoy with your drinks  (the price varies with who is serving!). They offer great flavours – including chili, wasabi, sea salt, earl grey, jasmine and rosemary. At 10 euros per 100g, you will only take away a few chocolates in a plastic bag unless you are on a splurge.

This place is often busy for the sit-down, but worth a visit! if it’s too packed, pop round the corner to Charli to test their pain au chocolat. I’ve since tested their beer and pumpkin seed bread and it is worth the trip!

Frederic Blondeel

Quai aux Briques 241000 Bruxelles
Drinks: A
Atmosphere: B
Service: A
Price: B+
Languages: French, Dutch, English


Posted in Chill Corner, Products to Pilfer, Sweet Tooth, Tourist Traps | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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 »

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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Posted by rachelinbxl on July 18, 2010

My name is Rachel, so when I learned of a new bagel place in Brussels called Rachel’s Bagels, I thought I should check it out. Just outside Anneesens tram station, in Koolmarktstraat, Rachel’s is a small cafe with a pleasant terrace. On Saturday and Sunday they do a brunch for 18 euros.
I photographed the buffet, and the selection was fairly decent. You also get one fresh hot bagel, fresh pressed orange juice and tea of the day or coffee.

brunch buffet

Brunch buffet

This runs pretty much all day Saturday and Sunday, and at 3pm on Sunday it wasn’t very crowded… so if you are hungry enough it would be a good spot to check out near the centre.
We weren’t that hungry though, so we tried one bagel each:


Nina is a spicy tuna (ginger and curry) with coleslaw bagel. Served with salad and nachos, as are all their bagels. I didn’t ask if something other than sesame bagels was available. The tuna was good, but the combo was a challenge to eat. I wasn’t sure that nachos complemented the meal, but they were good nachos.

Justin BLT

Justin BLT

Justin – or The BLT was well supplied with salad and had crispy bacon. My friend was pleased.
The fresh OJ was good, and the tea of the day was moonwalker (a green tea with jasmine, rhubarb and red fruits) which was very pleasant.
The guy running this bagel bar named it after his Grandmother. He was very sweet. According to their menu they won the prize for the best pastrami bagel in Brussels recently. I wasn’t sure how much competition there was for that award as I can’t think of any other places to get one… but they were pretty good bagels. My only quibble would be the price. 5 euros is the minimum for a bagel to takeaway, and the eat-in club bagel (3 layers, it did look impressive) runs to over 10 euros. Tea of the day in a mug was 1.5 euros, but a pot of a different tea would set you back 3.6 euros. 4 plain bagels to take away costs 6 euros. It’s not break-the-bank expensive, but its not the cheapest snack in town! It is ‘different’ though, and has a nice atmosphere.

Overall, a nice place for brunch in the centre. Would go back to try their muffins or cheesecake and another one of their interesting teas, but it won’t be a regular address for me…. I just really like the name!
Their domain name is even really similar to my wordpress login!

Rachel’s Bagels
Rue du marche au Charbon 100
1000 Brussels

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

Posted in Break your fast, Chill Corner, Drop By | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Good outdoor seafood; better service if you have breasts

Posted by Pi on April 22, 2010

Noordzee / Mer du Nord over at St. Catherine often is much too crowded or just closed.  The tiny place is standing-room-only, and all the people drinking white wine while eating their fish soup gave the place a slightly exciting aura of exclusivity.  Fortunately we managed to try it recently on one of these sunny days in Brussels, and some items on the menu, though not all, were well worth the effort.

The first success came with the small plate of freshly cooked calamari (~6 euros), lightly batter-fried and tender.  The flavor was subtle and definitely not too salty, making it perfect to eat while still hot.

The seafood soup (~5 euros) in a tomato-based broth also went down well.  The smell of this stuff probably lures a lot of people to that corner in the first place.  Fans of spiciness might be disappointed, though.  Also this came with some bread with an interesting neon orange sauce and parmesan cheese, but only one bite was taken from that.   It looked suspicious enough, but then a hair was hidden in the cheese, too, which is pretty nasty.

The seared scallop (~2.50 euros) over endive and mushroom-cream sauce looked fantastic, but ultimately it’s best for scallop-lovers only, as it was slightly too salty, and it tasted like nothing special once it cooled down.  That’s the problem with eating outside in Brussels.

When the crab burger (~6.50 euros)  with a tomato sauce finally came, my hopes and expectations were very high.  My female friend already was eating, since our server was the tall Spanish guy who catcalled to all the passing young women, meaning that he served the female sex significantly faster than others.  Unfortunately I expected too much, so I ended up slightly disappointed.  Again, it looked fantastic, and it tasted better than the scallop, but overall the taste of the crab was weak.  Over several minutes, the cold Brussels air gave the burger its final death sentence, extinguishing more heat and relegating the flavors of the dish to just average.  Next time, I’m eating the whole thing as soon as it hits the bar.

Speed is of the essence when you eat at the North Sea.  And maybe breasts, too, apparently.

Mer du Nord / Noordzee
Sint-Katelijnestraat 45, Brussels

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

Posted in Drop By, Pretty Pictures | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »