3 days in Brussels
Belgium is a bit of an interesting country. Consisting of Dutch (Flemish) and French regions and having both languages listed as official languages, both country’s influences are also noticeable in the culinary landscape. So what is Belgian food exactly?
Le Pain Quotidien
Galerie de la reine 11 (Galeries St Hubert)
This bakery was apparently started by a chef who was disappointed with the quality of bread available in Belgium. Personally, having grown up on the spongy, rectangular, plastic-sleeved stuff that passes as ‘bread’ in Australia, I find this fact rather amusing. But anyway. Le Pain Quotidien is now a chain with stores all over the world, including one in Sydney.
If you’re like us and don’t find the oh-so-French croissant and coffee breakfast sufficient, the breakfast deal here which includes eggs and a selection of bread may be more your thing. Oh, and it comes with white chocolate spread – how very Belgian.
As it turns out, the croissants here were the best ones we had on our whole trip; even better than the ones in Paris!
Grand place 15
This cavernous, underground restaurant is hidden in plain tourist sight, located right in the Grand Place. The menu paints a good picture of traditional Belgian cuisine, with nearly every dish featuring potatoes and a large serving of meat.
Bob’s Flemish beef and beer stew was rich and hearty, with the beer adding a bit of sweetness and an extra flavour dimension. It came with chips, of course.
‘T Kelderke is a nice escape from the beaten tourist track – just don’t ask me how to pronounce it.
Rue d’Arenberg 1B
Located at the end of Galeries St Huberts, this large cafe is popular with tourists and locals alike. The menu features Belgian classics as well as pastas, quiches and vegetarian options which are surprisingly affordable, considering the cafe’s location in the middle of tourist-ville.
I got the moules frites – mussels in a light broth served with chips – arguably Belgium’s national dish.
While the menu items aren’t bad, Arcadi’s main drawcard is its impressive display of cakes and tarts. I found myself tempted by the one adorned with fresh raspberries, and it was every bit as good as it looks.
But what about the beer, you say?
Kriek is a Belgian beer infused with sour cherries. Don’t let its fruity appearance deceive you – the mixture is fermented until there is no sugar left in the cherries, so it is far from sweet; rather, the cherries add an interesting tartness to the beer.
Oh, and here’s a token chocolate picture – a post about Belgium just wouldn’t be complete without it.