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.
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!
LA CANTINA CUBANA
JEU DE BALLES