I developed a love-hate relationship with Brussels when we visited.
One of the elements I loved however, was the food. My taste buds thoroughly enjoyed everything that headed their way. So, even though I was slightly underwhelmed by some of the tourist attractions, the food and drink scene itself is worth a city break over.
Here’s a few of my highlights:
I read lots of blogs and articles on where to find the perfect waffle and all the different toppings that people have creatively made to compliment them… but rather than propping up tables at fancy restaurants and paying top dollar for quirky over the top indulgence, we were all more than happy with the simple 2 Euro waffles from the bright yellow waffle vans. They were divine. Warm, perfect portion size, moist, good thickness and just the right amount of sweetness.
Whenever we saw the vans parked up, we would rush over for another. Regardless of what we had devoured before hand… there was always room for waffles!
I fell in love with moules when Mo and I went to Grasse a few years ago. I was super excited to indulge in the ‘Mussels in Brussels’ experience. They are in season between September and February so we did actually encounter a slight struggle in tracking down this dish.
But nevertheless, they were still about and we enjoyed ours at a cute, cat-inspired café, Restaurant Le Chat Noir (Its been around since 1938!?!). Most mussels are cooked in white wine, or some Belgian restaurants like to use local beer, but there is usually an option to have them in vegetable stock or a la crème. And of course, no portion of moules is ever complete unless you compliment it with a generous side portion of frites.
Wow, chocolate really is everywhere in Brussels!! I’m not even joking, there are chocolate shops literally on nearly every street. And they all look amazing. There are chocolate workshops, tours, classes… the list goes on and on. Every shop you enter has a sample basket with lots of little delights waiting to lure you into purchasing some of the beautifully packaged treats in store. I particularly enjoyed walking through the Galeries Royales St Hubert, aka the ‘Brussels umbrella,’ where the chocolate creations in the window displays were more like pieces of art.
I treated Mo to some chocolates of his choice. He found his favourites to be from Pierre Marcolini, an artisan chocolatier who is one of the few chefs to master the entire chocolate manufacturing process. In Mo’s opinion, Pierre Marcolini makes the best chocolate he has ever had – he says, the best in the world, and he is somewhat of a chocolate connoisseur!
Sunday Market Snacks
Early Sunday morning, we headed out sans-breakfast to browse the many markets that we had read would line the streets. We didn’t have to venture far as the first we walked through was right opposite our hotel, the Gare du Midi market. And we wasted no time in accumulating a selection of fresh snacks to feed on.
Olives were a great choice, not a food that usually graces a breakfast menu, but when you’re faced with buckets full of freshly marinated ones glistening in the morning light. We also tasted the most amazing crepe-style creation with cheese. It was almost certainly a North African dish, and it was the most mouth watering delicious crepe-thing I’ve ever eaten, I actually feel myself salivating thinking about it. I only wish I knew what it was called!
(Please put me out of my misery and comment below if you do happen to know its name!)
The worlds largest seafood event is held in Brussels, so its not surprising there are a lot of great fresh fish options on offer which we took advantage of. Our Saturday night dinner was like a pescetarian banquet and we also made time for a trip to Noordzee, a famous seafood restaurant located in Sainte Catherine. Noordzee class themselves as ‘Gourmet Streetfood’ by combining your everyday fishmonger with a deli counter for fresh on the spot meals. There are some bar style tables in the square nearby to rest your plate on as well as some public benches dotted about.
I went straight for the prawn croquettes where my only complaint is I wish the portion size was three times what they were, as they were simply too moreish. Everything looked good, smelt good and it was continuously bustling with people, mainly locals. Definitely recommend a walk past for a lunch time meal.
We didn’t travel to Brussels to try coffee. I don’t even drink it. But we did stumble across a wonderful cosy Ethiopian coffee shop, Aksum coffee house, as we were strolling through the quiet streets on Sunday. Having attended a coffee tasting course on a coffee farm in Panama, hubby classes himself as somewhat of a coffee connoisseur.
He wasted no time in writing them a message on tripadvisor stating:
what I got was the best cup of coffee I have ever had from a coffee house in Western Europe. The blend was full-bodied and robust. Not the usual ‘Arabica’ blend we have grown accustomed to. ‘Arabica’ is essentially when the coffee bean has been burned and as it is a cheaper roast, it tends to be the type of roast used by most coffee houses globally. Aksum’s coffee was stunning. A joy with every sip.
That’s some serious praise right there. We also tried the milky chai tea and hot chocolate, both equally as good.
The one food dish I was craving to try, but didn’t, was the Fritkot chips. Oh the chips! They smelt so good. But alas, as a muslim, they were out of bounds. All the best chips were unfortunately fried in Lard, which isolates them not only from halal lists but also vegetarian/vegan ones. Such a shame. I did try with all my might to hunt down an option that didn’t involve being fried in animal fat but never managed to scope anything out pre-visit.
Not to worry though, there are so many great food options available maybe it’s best this one was out of bounds. After 48 hours of ‘tasting’ my stomach really couldn’t have packed any more in.
Can anyone recommend an amazing Frite-cart that is halal or suitable for vegetarians in Brussels? Would love to keep it in my mind for next time or to help others who may be visiting 🙂