How would you like to view this page?  
Home colours (striking white on navy) Away colours (bigger navy text on a white page - easy read version)

Jump To:

See Also:




Kevin "Disco Keith" Donnelly, the venerable Chairman of Loony Alba, recently (late 2007) found himself marooned in Brussels on a contract assignment. With nothing to do but eat his way through Brussels' plethora of top-notch restaurants and drink Jupiler lager (having turned his nose up at some of the more exotic brews), he kindly offered to pen his thoughts.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you, Disco Keith's Brussels Restaurant Guide, Part I...

NATA Brussels Mini Guide (from 2005)
General Observations

Coffee in general is awful. Idea of coffee chains has not permeated to Belgium and the closest thing to a Starbucks is the Illy coffee shop at the Sheraton Hotel on Place Rogier.

Never ever ask for a capuccino in a cafe as you get an espresso with a swirl of whipped canned cream and some chocolate shavings.

Food in general is of a very high quality, even kebabs.

The Schumann area is expensive due to the presence of the EC and the European parliament. A couple of the places around here are off the tourist trail but still populated by non Belgians.

Lunch is a very big thing in Brussels and many restaurants exist solely on lunchtime trade though mainly in the business sector of the upper town. Like the city of London, many of the places close to the commercial centre are closed at weekends.

St Catherine

In the fish restaurant area of St Catherine I was given the following advice by an Irish caterer who has lived in Brussels for 15 years: the Rugbyman restaurants are the place to eat lobster. For moules, you should go to Jacques and for general seafood go to Francois which I can recommend but it is quite pricey.

Exki, various outlets around Brussels

This is closest you will come in Brussels to a Pret a Manger. Excellent baguettes, soup and quiches but poor for fruit and crisps. Also pretty poor for coffee. They lull you into a false sense of security regarding coffee as the menu says all the right things but the quantity and quality are both poor.

I Latini, Place St Catherine2

Very pleasant restaurant and it is possible to sit outside. This can have its downside as the vast bulk of Brussels' jakeys sit in this square adding to its “rich” atmosphere. I had an excellent linguini di mare here with beautifully cooked pasta and a good selection of seafood and shellfish in the dish. This was followed by a superb mousse au chocolat which was so thick, they gave it to you as a couple of slices. Waiter appeared to be very grumpy but maybe it was just me. He was wearing glasses and had slicked back hair. £20 for two courses and a couple of glasses of wine.

Yaki Snack, Rue des Poissonniers 6B

Cheap and cheerful Thai/Vietnames snack bar close to the Little Asia part of Brussels. Ok green curry with chicken. Possible to sit outside but given the standard of Belgian driving and youths going past with music blaring out of their cars, its not that attractive an option. £9 for curry and a couple of beers.

Restaurant Pataya, Rue Antoine Dansaert 49
Only went in here because the Green Papaya next door was closed for holidays. Very, very average spring rolls as a starter. The portion was small and did not appear home made. I then had a Thai version of chicken fried rice as a main and it was ok. This place is expensive for what you get and there are much better places nearby. Owner is a miserable fucker. £14 for two courses and a beer.

Le Pre Sale, Rue de Flandre 20

This place is highly recommended in the guidebooks and it is easy to see why. Ate here several times and was never disappointed. This place serves traditional Belgian food such as rabbit, huge pork chops, eel and beef stew (carbonade) with stoemp (mixed mashed carrots and mashed potato). On one occasion I started with the tomatoes stuffed with brown shrimp and on another shrimp croquettes, both traditional Belgian dishes and both tasty. The mains took a bit of time to arrive but were well worth the wait. The steaks are enormous compared to what you get in the UK and come, as ever with frites. My veal kidneys in a mustard sauce would probably have made a great starter but were a bit samey for a main. The moules, as sampled on a second visit, are excellent as is the rabbit which is cooked with more than a hint of saffron. There is a wide selection of Belgian beers and a good range of wines. This place gets very busy so if you have not booked, turn up early but don't expect too warm a welcome as the owners do not seem too keen on tourists though the maitre'd does speak perfect English. Whilst the menu might seem pricey, the quality of the food is very high and the portions are big. £30 two courses and half a bottle of wine

Hong Hoa, Rue du Pont de la Carpe 10

Very very good, if not the best, Vietmamese restaurant in the St Catherine area. Pretty small and gets very busy but well worth a wait for a table. The Vietnamese soups are a speciality and are served as mains. These are very tasty and very filling with a good range of soups and the freshest of ingredients. Trying something different, I went for the Vietnamese crepe with a filling of fresh bamboo shoots and roast duck. This was not like a French crepe but was crisper and had been deep fried. For a main, I had “marmite” rice which was like special fried rice given that it consisted of a variety of meats and seafood. Another winner. Not much in terms of beers but very friendly staff. £16 two courses and a couple of beers. Cheaper if you go for the soup option.

Amadeus, Rue St Catherine 28

Part of a Belgian chain which specialises only in ribs and red wine. Would like some more ribs with your ribs, Sir? In an eat as much as you want deal, the ribs don't stop coming. They are served along with a baked potato, and again, the potatoes don't stop coming. On each table there is a large screw top bottle of red wine and the waiter will mark how much you have had and charge you accordingly. Failing that you just drink the whole bottle. Service is good but the background music was terrible, pishy 30's trad jazz. £22 a head for loads of ribs and a bottle of red wine

Thai Bangkok, Boulevard Emile Jacqmain 54

Average Thai just north of De Brouckere. Fish cakes to start were rubbery but had a hint of fresh herbs. Sadly the same freshness could not be found in a mediocre Pad Thai with chicken. It was a Monday night and I made up 335 of the clientele but would not rush back. £20 two courses and a beer

Le Papaya Verte, Rue Antoine Dansaert 53

Very good Vietnamese and Thai eating place that also features in some guidebooks. To start with I had four very tasty tempura prawns followed by an excellent duck in an orange sauce with rice, the duck being perfectly cooked. The food was so good that I barely noticed the large woman sitting at the table in front of me whose pink and “tangerine” thong had ridden up to what looked a very uncomfortable ten past eight position. She also looked like she cut her own hair but like I said, i was concentrating on the food, not surprisingly. £20 two courses and a couple of beers

Il Colosseo

Cheap but very good Italian just north of De Bruckere. I had a good sized portion of spaghetti carbonara with a glass of red wine for £7.50. Handmade pizzas also available

Maison du Dragon, 146 Boulevard Adolphe Maxlan

This is part of an hotel just across the road from the large Sheraton on Place Rogier. The hotel appears to cater mainly for Chinese tour parties, so thinking they must know what they are doing if they serve to Chinese tourists all the time I went in. It was ok and the thing that really sticks in the mind was the 8 euros for a pint of Bitburger lager which was possibly the tastiest thing I had. A chicken egg roll followed by Singapore noodles is not exactly pushing the boundaries but if the basics were good, everything else should follow. £18 for two courses and a pricey pint.

Bij Den Bouer, Quaix au Briques 60

Probably the best value restaurant in the St Catherine old fish market area for traditional French cooking. The fixed price menu has to be one of the best, if not the best, in Brussels. They offer, every night, four courses for 25 euros. The sweets are normally a bit of a disappointment but by the time they arrive you don't care as you have been so well fed up until then. A place where the locals are heavily present, turning up without a booking could lead to you ending up in the back room where a tourist apartheid appears to come into play. The service is less frequent and the staff appear less jolly when serving you but stick with it as the food is excellent. On my fist visit i had soupe de poisson, mushroom rissoto with three large unpeeled prawns, confit of duck with small potatoes and white asparagus. The duck was very tender but my companion thought the gravy too salty. The sweet was a bit slapdash with a coffee mousse, vanilla ice cream and canned cream in the sort of glass you get a vodka and coke served in in a Dumfries bar. On another visit, before an Anderlecht game, oysters and wild boar were included in the 25 euro menu so that was definitely a pre match meal to end all pre match meals. Highly recommended with an excellent beer and wine list. £20 for four courses, wine extra.

Frederic Blondeel Chocolatier, Quaix au Briques 24

This place is a pure joy, basically because you can get a decent cup of coffee in here. However, forget the coffee and go straight for the hot chocolate unless you are a diabetic. The only place I have ever been where you can decide the level of pure cocoa in your hot chocolate. 80% tasted pretty damn fine to me and the fact that you get a couple of hand made chcocolates along with this mug of heaven is amazing. And all this for 3 euros! They make the chocolates in house and it is possible to view the chocolatiers at work in the back.

L'Entree des Artistes, Place du Grand Sablon 42

Up the tastier end of town in Place Sablon, this restaurant can look slightly daunting from the outside with a tasty array of dishes up on a noticeboard but get on in and enjoy some real Belgian treats. In at least one case, the traditional dishes served might be, literally, too close to the bone. The bone in this case is braised shine bone served with toast. The idea being you scoop out the marrow from the bone, which they have spliced in two for you, spread it on the aforesaid toast and then eat it. Yum, yum, eh? Fortunately i did not order this but saw it being served on my way out. What I did have was an excellent terrine of ham with a line of foie gras going through it. Very tasty. This was followed by a Belgian Cumberland sausage type main served with stoemp. My companion had an excellent canneloni. I went back here on New years day but after waiting 5 minutes to be acknowledged by the staff, gave up and went elsewhere. The Place Sablon is well worth a wander, for a drink, a coffee and a seat outside just watching the world go by. £25 two courses and a beer

Darjeeling Restaurant, Rue Stevin 160

A suburban British curry house comes to Brussels and it is complete pants. The service, the food and the clientele, made up of EC types from the hq across the road, generate flashbacks to the early 80s where people thought the only time to eat a curry was post pub. Everything you get, you deserve for frequenting such a place. So if you like overcooked food served with a miserable looking lettuce garnish which had a sell by date of 01032004, this is the place for you. Avoid at all costs.

Comocomo, Antoine Dansaert 19

Interesting place this which is like a Basque version of Yo Sushi. I believe in the Basque country they do not serve tapas but pintxos and this is what you get here, small dishes going round on a conveyor belt and you can help yourself. The dishes are colour coded so you know the price of what you are eating. The price can mount up but there are a few interesting tastes. The cream cheese with walnut oil is very tasty and that is coming from someone who does not normally care for either cream cheese or walnuts. Its an idea to go when it is busy as the turnover of dishes means you will not be stuck with a dodgy bit of fish which has been circling on the belt like a plane waiting to land at Heathrow. Very popular with families for some reason.

Rosa's Restaurant, Rue de Flandre 10

Interesting small cafe bar which appears to specialise in sandwiches and paninis but produced a very tasty minestrone soup followed by a good quality entrecote steak with tagliatelle in a tomato sauce. This probably does not sound as good as it was. Good selection of wines from around the world as well. The waiter was helpul in choosing the wine and its that sort of intimate and friendly place. £20 for two courses with wine

Phat Thai, Rue Jules Van Praet 32

One of a number of Thais in this street where you are literally spoiled for choice in terms of Thai restaurants. The menu looked pretty bland on first inspection but I ended up being served good fresh produce. All the dishes are reasonably priced as you would expect with so much competition on the doorstep. I started with deep fried won tons and had fish in coconut milk as a main. The fish was very tender and of a high quality. Any of the Thai places in this street would not disappoint. £20 for two courses and a couple of beers

Au Palais des Indes, Avenue Louise 263

Very good Indian a bit off the main tourist circuit down Avenue Louise. Beautifully decorated restaurant in a classic art nouveau style building. The menu in the window offers a much more limited range of dishes than the menu inside which is a bit weird but all your expected staples are there and the service is good. If you are down this end of the city it is worth walking along Avenue Louise to the Warwick Barsey Hotel. This is an upmarket hotel but not well known. If you walk through the hotel you will come to a lovely garden where, if the weather is good, a very pleasant evening can be had. Intersting array a up market hookers passing through as well! £25 for two courses and a beer

L'Express Quality, 8 Rue des Chapeliers

On the receipt from this cafe it says, “The Art of Lebanese Cooking”. Don't let that put you off as this is strictly painting by numbers as opposed to any dadesque attempt to serve a kebab consisting solely of a carrot. All the basics are here in a friendly cafe with a bewildering number of waiters and servers. Fresh fruit juices are produced in quick time and you can also get a beer. This place is between the main kebab drag and the Grand Place. Go easy on the garlic sauce or your breath will be minging for hours if not days. £6 for falafel, fries and a wee beer

Aglio e Olio, Chausee de Vleurgat 25

Again off the beaten track but this place is heaven if you like rustic Italian cooking. It is also my favourite restaurant in Brussels. The menu consists of 5 starter and 5 mains all chalked up on a small blackboard. Get in early as dishes are cooked in limited quantities. The owner's first love is wine and the place has a bewildering array of Italian wines on display. Whilst not speaking English, the main man's enthusiasm for the dishes and wines he serves comes through in a variety of well known Italian terms and some frantic hand gestures. Ate here three times and was never disappointed. I had hoped to eat every dish on the menu by the time I left but didn't quite manage it. Where to begin? The mixed antipasti is a real treat. Excellent sundried tomatoes along with carpaccio of salmon and beef plus artichoke hearts. The grilled aubergines in a tomato are also excellent. If you go to this place at the right time, the first that greets you as you walk in is a large box of mushrooms, freshly picked from a secretive forest glade or some bollocks like that. The main dish of lasagne with cep mushrooms and black truffles is a real treat but very very rich. If you can imagine eating a quarter of a pound of pate, that is what it feels like. The other main to look out for is the fagottini which consists of the pasta triangles stuffed with spinach. These are then baked in a gorgonzola sauce. Normal pasta dishes are available and are normally served in the pan on the table so you can help yourself. As for the sweets, there is only one dish to have and that is then zabaglioni, custard with madeira wine. When I say “with” madeira wine, this dish has been soaked, immersed and sunk in madeira wine. To inhale the fumes sends you reeling. This is also served in a big pan which everyone can tuck into. I had this dish each time I went to this place and each time someone took a photo of the dish. It wasn't a particularly attractive method of serving it but it was a vast serving of alcoholic custard so all I can say is “Yum yum”. £30 three courses and wine



Search NATA Online: powered by FreeFind

Copyright notice: All photographs on this site are the property of individual members of the Netley Abbey Tartan Army unless otherwise stated. The copyright of these images remains with the individual possessing the photographic negatives, and permission should ideally be sought before copying them. We are keen to prevent anyone from making financial gain from our copyrighted images, or bringing the reputation of the Netley Abbey Tartan Army into disrepute (as we are more than capable of doing this ourselves).
If anyone does wish to use these images and would like express written consent to do so, please e-mail Paul Allison using via the contact page.
© Netley Abbey Tartan Army, 2001-2008 (and beyond...)