Bite Me, Brussels.

Reviewing food for the foreigners, without all the fluff.

Posts Tagged ‘seafood’

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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Sushi and seaweed in Uccle

Posted by rachelinbxl on October 30, 2012

I think I have mentioned how much I adore sushi, so I was really pleased to sea that the old chocolate shop on Ave de Fre was being turned into a sushi outlet. I feel that Uccle is rather poorly represented in terms of sushi – Cote Sushi at Vanderkindere being my closest. More and more are opening though, and this one is close enough for a lunchtime trip, so we went to test it today. Since it was from work, I didn’t have my camera with me, but it turns out this is a takeaway/delivery only joint, so there was no sit down decoration, just take away plastic. They opened 5 October and are still being discovered. They offer a few lunchtime menus – at 9 euro or 12. We each took the 12 and felt we got a very good deal.

We got miso soup, a seaweed salad and a mix of rolls and nigiri – to be precise 2 different rolls of 6 pieces and 3 nigiri (1 salmon, 1 squid, 1 prawn)

We made it back to the office and the soup was still warm. There was plenty of wasabi and ginger, but those little bottles of soy sauce always seem a bit small to me. One dish had just cucumber roll (I never see the point of this), and then salmon and avocado wrapped with dill rather than seaweed or sesame seeds. The other dish had cooked tuna with apple, rolled in sesame and salmon with magato (fish eggs) and another herb, wrapped in seaweed.

The miso soup was a little bland (though I prefer this to overly salted). There were real strips of seaweed and real chunks of tofu in there. I enjoyed it. The seaweed salad was pleasantly crunchy, though a little cold after soup. The dressing was a little sweet, but I liked it. This is just 3.50 euros outside the menu, which is good for seaweed salad. Edamame and the traditional cabbage salads were also options. But I far prefer seaweed.

The fish (only really salmon in raw fish) was good. The rice had a slightly sweet taste, but good texture. We both noticed a metallic taste to 2 of the rolls – with herbs in. Either the herb was meant to have this taste, or the seaweed inside was a little old. It did not prevent enjoyment but degraded it a little. We think that the girl messed up and the tuna and apple option was not meant to be in the menu with soup and salad. But I was glad she did. I would never have chosen this combination but it was really good – the best of all of them.

We were very full for our 12 euro lunch and I will be testing them again. They have no website, so I scanned the menu!

Algues et Sushi
Ave de Fre, 207
1180 Uccle
02 375 90 84

Food: B
Atmosphere: C (well its a takeaway!)
Service: A Very friendly
Price: A
Languages: French,…?

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Resto Days at Jaloa

Posted by rachelinbxl on October 10, 2012

I spoke about Resto Days last year and the year before. The idea is that restaurants (Primarily the expensive ones) offer a 3 course meal at the fixed price of 21 euros for lunch and 28 euros for dinner. This encourages people to test the place, love the food, and go back when its more expensive! After a particularly bad experience last year where we misunderstood the wine menu price, we were less enthusiastic this year, but Jaloa had spaces left at the last minute, so I seized the chance to try this seafood place at St Catherine. The fixed restodays menu did not leave room for choices:

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Wild duck and goose liver carpaccio, baby spinach and hazelnut oil
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Seared albacore tuna, vegetable spaghetti, fresh herb potato puffs, soy and yuzu (Asian citrus fruit) vinaigrette
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Crepe Suzette (thin pancake flambéed with orange liqueur) and vanilla ice cream

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but the whole thing sounded fantastic. We dripped in from the rain and were welcomed rather brusquely. Other tables had their coats taken – we did not. But we got a nice round table where we could view the bar and see the guy outside opening oysters. A table near us had a tower of shellfish that they were attacking, which was fascinating but I didn’t dare to take pictures, sorry.
We went for the house red – liver needs red and the tuna could handle it – because we all prefer red and because the house wine was the only affordable bottle on the menu. It was a Cab Sav from Carcassone that was rather light before food, but handled both dishes tolerably. I’m sure the waiter could have picked out a better option but if the meal is 28€, I object to spending more than that on the drinks!

Liver carpaccio, spinach, hazelnut oil

The first course arrived fairly quickly and was an excellent starter. The liver was beautifully prepared and I loved the delicate hazelnut flavour. The fresh bread went well with it and we polished it off quickly. Our mistake, as we had to wait a while for the main course. We saw other tables get theirs, and knew they had been waiting a while. Luckily we couldn’t drink too much while waiting as the bottles of wine are stored at a table where only the waiters can access them – so he restrained us by not serving more – unlike the overzealous habit of some to keep topping up your wine, which can get very annoying. We had control of our bottle of water, which was the wiser choice.

Tuna, Potato puffs and vegetable spaghetti

The main dish was fantastic. The tuna was char grilled and had a light smoky taste. The vegetable spaghetti was a mix of carrot, bean-sprout, green and yellow courgettes and had a very light spicy kick. The yuzu sauce was perhaps light on taste, and the beetroot painted decoration on one diner’s plate was so thin and hard that he couldn’t test it; the potato-herb puffs were fried in truffle oil – which was a very strong flavour (certainly more than the potato or herb), but went well with the smoky tuna. We each argued over what was our favourite part of the melange of tastes. It was a superb plate of food, and a good serving size. Once we had finished we were allowed to have the wine bottle on our table to decide who got the last few mouthfuls.

Crepes Suzette

After this I could have done with a longer break before dessert arrived, but the crepes were served fairly rapidly. They were cold, not too sweet, with a pleasant orange after-taste. The ice cream wasn’t anything special.
The restaurant was definitely emptying out (10pm on a Monday) when we got the bill. Nobody wished us goodbye until we got outside, where our waiter was on a cigarette break, explaining the calm inside. All in all an excellent meal, and Jaloa will be on my list of places to take people who offer to buy me dinner!

Brasserie Jaloa
Place St Catherine 5-7,
1000 Bruxelles

Food: A
Atmosphere: B
Service: B
Price: A- during resto days!
Languages: French, English

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Resto Days at the 830

Posted by rachelinbxl on October 10, 2011

RestoDays are here again. This time my kitchen is being replaced, so I cannot cook myself, so it seemed the ideal moment to have Sunday lunch. So I was looking for something not too far away, and something fairly traditional. I found le 830. It’s quite far out in Uccle on the Chaussee de Waterloo. I guess the tram 7 to near Bascule would be the easiest Stib connection. Or the 38 bus. I went by bike, but arrived rather damp. The ambiance is cosy – there is an open fire, large mirrors that increase the impression of space, but the walls are covered in drawings and caricatures that I think have been drawn by guests for the owner/chef. Some are very good! All are interesting. The location is old – as their website explains and all food is prepared fresh from natural ingredients.

l'ambiance
The resto days menu started with wild boar terrine, served with onion jam and some cranberries. In fact we also received an appetiser of black and white boudin (cold) and fresh bread.. but I didn’t photograph that. It was not bad, but I’m not a real boudin fan. The terrine was good – there was a lot of it. One slice would have been enough for me! I couldn’t tell it was boar – but it would certainly have needed to be high quality pork to give so much taste. The onion jam was excellent and married well with the flavours.

I checked later and found that this was entitled Filet de bar, puree Alexandre et coulis de potiron. So we have a filet of perch served with Alexander potatoes (this is mash with endive and onion caramelised on top) and a pumpkin sauce. The fish was excellent. Cooked to a crunchy skin and piping hot. This is the firs time I have managed to ingest endive. I really hate the bitter aftertaste of this adored Belgian vegetable, but with caramelised surface and sweet onion to offset the taste, it went well with the creamy mashed potatoes and was quite edible! I made the mistake of eating a particularly large piece last, however, and really regretted that. Luckily I could eat a parsley leaf to take away the after taste!
The pumpkin sauce didn’t have a strong flavour, but added colour to the presentation. The whole dish was a pleasure, but I did wonder if a stronger sauce would have added even more!
Main dish

The dessert took a long time coming – in fact the table nearby complained as they had ordered one for their daughter along with their coffees and they were waiting to leave! But it is clearly cooked fresh. I took a photo having taken a spoonful to show how the raspberry heart fell out of the fondant chocolate case. This was a beautiful dessert. Thankfully small, as we were very full by this point, not too sweet (especially the chocolate part), and deliciously decadent. I would go back just for another one of these!
Dessert

So the menu was good, how about the service? It was not the best, but not the worst. Each table in this restaurant has a small stand with a button to press for service (and to cancel the call). This was not necessary for the restodays menu. Each dish came a good 20 minutes after the previous one, which is fine when you need time for the previous one to settle and leave space to appreciate the next. After dessert, however, the restaurant was getting empty and no one came back to check on us at all! I ended up ringing the bell to get coffees (truly lovely decaf, most unusual!), and the girl appeared immediately. No bad feelings that I had rung at all.
The water and beer we had had with dinner were pricy (4 euros and 4.50 respectively), but this still brought our dinner up to less than the usual 29 euros for 3 course menu of the month (which was very similar to the resto days menu, but hey!).
A place to recommend if you are in the area – quality food, prepared fresh and a nice place to sit on a cold autumn day!

Le 830 (watch out it plays a video! and is generally a very poor website)
Chaussee de Waterloo 830
1180 Uccle

Food: A-
Atmosphere: B
Service: B
Price: B during resto days!
Languages: French

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