Brussels Louts

Brussels is a Mecca for foodies, boasting excellent restaurants representing countries from around the world as well as the excellent, unsung cuisine of Belgium itself. And then there’s the beer. After a long tiring day luring children into your below-ground dungeon, nothing can be better than kicking back with a tall, cool Maes. If I have any complaints, then it is the same one that applies to all of Europe: The Brits civilised the world (apologies for Australia) but overlooked Europe when it came to teaching them how to make tea. We occupied it for ages, how did we get that wrong? And in which tortured reality is it acceptable to put cream in tea? For that reason alone I think we should leave Eurovision.

Behold the mighty fountains of Brussels. People come from metres around to see what hole is farting water 4 inches into the air.

Behold the mighty fountains of Brussels. People come from metres around to see what hole is farting water 4 inches into the air.

So the problem with going for a weekend, as I did with Mme Del Monte, Horse and Filly, is trying to crowbar up to 5 meals a day to ensure I snaffle everything on my list. Here’s what you don’t do: go to La Cantina Cubana (http://lacantinacubana.skynetblogs.be/) when the queue for Asiagrill (Rue du Marche au Charbon/Kolenmarkt 98) is too long. The food in Asiagrill has no right being that tasty for such a reasonable price, with a simple menu based around either fried rice or fried noodles. Opposite La Cantina Cubana is the La Caneva (Rue des Grands Carmes 9) a spectacular Italian restaurant which really satisfies. Our location in La Cantina Cubana meant we could see into La Caneva at the patrons enjoying their meals as we endured the toxic cocktails and mediocre slop of La Cantina in sauna like temperatures. Don’t bother. There are 1,000 other places to try before the La Cantina Cubana. And most of them are nearby taunting you with the food you could have eaten.

So a wobbly start.

It only got better.

Lunch at Restobières (http://www.restobieres.eu/) after a wander around the Flea Market at Jeu de Balle. Imagine 80 grandads emptying their garages and expecting you to buy their unpaired shoes, 1/2 full family pots of Nutella or small jade penises. And if you like your womenfolk to be harrassed by swarthy types, then Jeu de Balle is the place for you. Restobières is round the corner and serves excellent Belgian fare. Mme Del Monte and I had already enjoyed Stoemp & steak for lunch the previous day (Le Châtelain on Place du Châtelain 17), so I opted for meatloaf and Filly enjoyed the Waterzooi. Try the beers too, but skip the Geuze. It’s rancid monk peepee.

The main event is a trip to the Le Pré Salé, an awesome Belgian canteen serving superior moules, excellent steak and other more interesting meats, including rabbit and HORSE. I’ve talked about my love for horse flesh before. It is a beautful cut of meat and Le Pré Salé serves it to order (always saignant for Charlie) and accompanied by a tall, (literally) cool glass of Sancerre Rouge. There are few better meals. The chips are also excellent. You must book if you’re going as it is always rammed. And you must smuggle some horse back for me.

One thing the continentals can do is pastry and so our farewell breakfast at Wittamers (http://www.wittamer.com/) allowed me to gorge on Suisse Rondes and Chocolats.

Searching for Belgian food in London is pointless, but it’s only 2 hours away on the Eurostar so go!

BRUXELLES / BRUSSEL / BRÜSSEL!

LE CHÂTELAIN

We get to watch the steak being prepared live!

We get to watch the steak being prepared live!

How many high street restaurants in the UK can boast the capacity to prepare a perfect steak at a price that isn't going to make your nose bleed?

How many high street restaurants in the UK can boast the capacity to prepare a perfect steak at a price that isn’t going to make your nose bleed?

Stoemp - like bubble 'n' squeak up for angrier people. With a lovely snausage!

Stoemp – like bubble ‘n’ squeak but for angrier people. With a lovely snausage!

The Mme Del Monte tries not to get freaked out by the preponderance of waist high figurines.

The Mme Del Monte tries not to get freaked out by the preponderance of waist high figurines.

One steak later and look at that smile!

One steak later and look at that smile!

LA CANTINA CUBANA

Ropa Vieja, the national dish of Cuba. Everything looks OK aside from the unspeakable goo in the middle. That's Castro's way of telling you that he's the boss.

Ropa Vieja, the national dish of Cuba. Everything looks OK aside from the unspeakable goo in the middle. That’s Castro’s way of telling you that he’s the boss.

Oggún. Looks nice enough apart from the unspeakable goo in the middle.

Oggún. Looks nice enough apart from the unspeakable goo in the middle. That’s Castro’s way of telling you he needs a gastroenterologist. Castro’s Gastro as Dr Feinblatt is known.

I only judge books by their cover. You don't need to taste this to know it is swill. I did however.

I only judge books by their cover. You don’t need to taste this to know it is swill. I did however.

El Menu. Hmmm.

El Menu. Hmmm.

JEU DE BALLES

The Flea Market at Jeu de Balle. Musty. Very musty indeed.

The Flea Market at Jeu de Balle. Musty. Very musty indeed.

Zeeland Oysters. Big, fat and a good start for lunch.

Zeeland Oysters. Big, fat and a good start for lunch.

I really hope that the seafood wasn't second hand like everything else there.

I really hope that the seafood wasn’t second hand like everything else there.

RESTOBIÈRES

Tall, cool beers. Thousands of em.

Tall, cool beers. Thousands of em.

About the tastiest-looking Waterzooi I've ever seen.

About the tastiest-looking Waterzooi I’ve ever seen.

More Stoemp and sausage.

More Stoemp and sausage.

Meatloaf and Stoemp. I ate it pretty fast. Like a ... bat out of hell you might say.

Meatloaf and Stoemp. I ate it pretty fast. Like a … bat out of hell you might say. I ate the meatloaf like a bat out of hell.

10cm across is a big sausage.

10cm across is a big sausage.

Le menu. Kindly supplied in Anglais.

Le menu. Kindly supplied in Anglais.

The outside of Restobieres. Looks pretty ropey, but don't let that fule you.

The outside of Restobieres. Looks pretty ropey, but don’t let that fule you.

See, the inside is charming.

See, the inside is charming.

PRÉ SALÉ

If you've never seen a pre-coital bearded man before then this might be educational. The horse is only minutes away.

If you’ve never seen a pre-coital bearded man before then this might be educational. The horse is only minutes away.

The salt shaker is there for perspective. That hunk of horse is jolly big is my point.

The salt shaker is there for perspective. That hunk of horse is jolly big is my point.

Half way through and still going strong. Tell me that doesn't look amazing. If you're a horse lover and you think this is monstrous then get bent.

Half way through and still going strong. Tell me that doesn’t look amazing. If you’re a horse lover and you think this is monstrous then get bent.

Saddle of wabbit. Weally dewicious.

Saddle of wabbit. Weally dewicious.

Action shot of the moules.

Action shot of the moules.

This is my Taj Mahal. My Everest.

This is my Taj Mahal. My Everest.

Le menu - Filet pur du cheval in the bottom left.

Le menu – Filet pur du cheval in the bottom left.

WITTAMER

Why aren't these tasty treats available to me constantly? Its not like  I live in Japan.

Why aren’t these tasty treats available to me constantly? It’s not like I live in Japan.

Hot chocolate. About the dirtiest thing the Belgians do. Well. Apart from that other thing.

Hot chocolate. About the dirtiest thing the Belgians do. Well. Apart from that other thing.

The Europeans know how to do breakfast. They just can make tea for toffee.

The Europeans know how to do breakfast. They just can’t make tea for toffee.

Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen's breakfast nook.

Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen’s breakfast nook.

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