Back to see the "Little Squirt", who was getting a lot of attention as always.
And since we were there, a visit to Grand Place was in order as well. For some reason, the Missus really never took to Grand Place....not sure why.
From here, we headed south, skirting the hills and then back up to the very popular shopping district of Ixelles.
Full of big time chains, boutiques, trendy shops....big city life. But, just head up one of the side streets and you'll find quaint little shops, apartments, and on this street a ton of construction. I was looking for a brasserie I'd read about, in several food blogs and even the New York Times, Les Brassins. The word "traditional" was sprinkled about in most of what I read, so I thought this would be a nice farewell restaurant meal in Brussels.
We'd arrived early and the place was empty except for one table....it was packed when we left. I found the place very comfortable.
Our server was very nice, relaxed, but very efficient. This is of course, Belgium, so we'd get some liquid refreshment with lunch. Nothing too heavy for the Missus; a Silly (how appropriate) Blonde (well, maybe not so much). I had a Caulier Blonde.
The Missus wanted to get Her last fix of Sausage and Stoemp. This was a nice version of the dish. The stoemp was full of greens and was delicious. The sausage well.
The "bacon" was probably the weak link, but the sauce was very nice....a good last version for the Missus.
I had intended to get the Carbonnade Flamande, the classic beef and beer stew that I enjoyed everywhere in Belgium. But all those posts and the New York Time recommended the Rabbit Leg in Cherry Kriek. So I went with the Lapin a la Kriek.
First off, I gotta say, that sauce was just plain delici-yoso! The kriek added a nice sweetness, but wasn't too cloying, that cut the richness. Also, the frites here might be the best I had in Belgium, crisp exterior, fluffy interior. The rabbit, if you've never had rabbit.....when done well, it's fairly mild in flavor, as this was. It was a bit too tough and dry for my taste though. Still, that sauce....
While I think my favorite meals in Brussels were at Viva M'Boma or perhaps Le Fin de Siècle, I don't think you can go wrong at Les Brassins.
Les Brassins 36 Rue Keyenveld Brussels, Belgium
We walked back to our apartment in Saint Gilles. It was a beautiful day for a stroll. We had our customary nap, then made dinner with stuff we'd bought at the Marche du Parvis.
So this was it huh? Last night in Brussels. The Missus and I looked at each other and instantly knew, this was not the way to end our trip to Brussels. We got dressed and headed out....and back to Moeder Lambic.
It was a bit busier than on our last visit. However, most everyone had taken a table outside. I told the Missus to shoot for the moon and I got a Hop-Ruiter, which I loved so much on my previous visit. So She did.....
I then tried a Vicaris Tripel, which was fairly creamy, though bit too sweet for my taste.
I then helped the Missus finish Her Gueuze. I couldn't help but think that this was why we work so hard. To be able to have a bottle of Cantillon at Moeder Lambic in Brussels. Life doesn't get better. Of course, eventually the glass was empty.
There was one last place for us to visit; the Holy Grail of Sours, Cantillon Brewery. And so we headed off from our apartment in Saint-Gilles. The Brewery is just a stop or two from Saint Gilles, close to the Gare du Midi Train Station. We however, (remember it's the Missus) walked.
Brasserie Cantillon is located in a somewhat gritty, industrial neighborhood, with a mix of various shops for different ethnicities. There's a huge empty lot across from Brasserie Cantillon, which seems quite low keyed.
There was no beer being made on the day we visited for our little self guided tour, but inhale and you'd get all the fragrances; yeasty-bready-sour-earthy.......
We went ahead and paid the 6 euros for the self guided tour; we'd been the first to arrive on this day, so Julie, whom I believe is the daughter of the Owner, was able to spend a good 15 minutes chatting about the building, the gueuze, and even the neighborhood. She explained that Cantillon still uses wild yeast and spontaneous fermentation, thus every year season's product is unique and different. The flavor she explained, "is in the building", we use no unnatural chemicals, our friends are the spiders who control the pests." The flavor is in the building. This isn't some shiny, bright and sterile, warehouse like structure in the middle of an industrial park.....the flavor is in the wood of the building, the breeze that comes in through the shutters. "Terroir" is a much used term these days......I had never really understood the concept as it applied to beer, until this day.
The tour itself was like travelling back in time, barrels of product.....aging for three years stacked along the walls and hallways.
Machinery, some going back to the 1930's are still in use......
For some reason, I found the walls of bottles mesmerizing....
I took way too many photos of bottles of beer stacked on one another.
At the end of the tour, you get a free drink. We decided to get whatever they had available for the day and a Gueuze Sausage, since it was still rather early in the morning and we needed some kind of sustenance.
Man, that unblended Lambic was super dry....so tart.....the finish was amazing.
The "Iris" had that nice "Cantillon sharp sour" tempered with a bit of hops and lemon-honey tones.
The gueuze sausage was better than expected; the texture of salumi, with sour tones like a good fermented sausage. Needless to say, it went well with the beer!
To me, Cantillon is a must visit when in Brussels, you are transported into the past, to how these types of beers used to be made. You walk freely along the hallways and equipment....there are no "keep off the grass" signs....they know you are here because you have an affinity for beer, they respect you, you respect them. And "le temps ne respecte pas ce qui se fait sans lui" - time does not respect what is done without him.
In our day and age of instant gratification, it's nice to know, some folks still understand that good things often take time.
Brasserie Cantillon Rue Gheude 56 Anderlecht, Brussels, Belgium
On our return trip to Brussels I booked an apartment in the Saint-Gilles neighborhood. Part artsy, part somewhat run down, quite diverse, urban, we really enjoyed staying in this part of town....it seemed quite "real".
Our flat was quite large as well.
Since we had arrived too early for check-in, we dropped our stuff off and headed out....not quite sure what to do. I had a farmer's market, Marché du Parvis (Parvis Market) de Saint Gilles, marked on my map so we headed off in that direction.
Where there was indeed a farmer's market.
We decided to take advantage of the huge kitchen in the apartment and self cater. Picking up some eggs; charcuterie, vegetables.....and a nice amount of cheese from the fromage-mobile.
Marché du Parvis de Saint Gilles Sint-Gillisvoorplein Hours: Tues - Wed 730am - 1pm Thurs 12pm - 10pm Fri 730am - 1pm Sat - Sun 730am - 2pm
We took a look around for something to eat, but decided to duck into this "brasserie"
I liked the looks of the place......
There was a huge cold case with beer that you could just select yourself and a rather large listing.....
Wanting to just have fun, we selected two beers we'd never heard of before. The Missus a blonde ale; "Den Tseut" from Huisbrouwerij Den Tseut, which was pretty disappointing; very light and "Pilsner" like. I decided to "go big" and went with a Goliath (Gouyasse) Tripel from Brasserie Des Légendes, a nice straight up tripel; very yeasty-bready, slight hops, only 6% ABV, so it really wasn't Goliath like in my book.
I'm not sure the place even serves food....but there was none on this morning. The woman working here was a hoot; she spoke not a word of English.
We opened up the cheese and charcuterie and made eating motions and she nodded in agreement. We then asked for a knife making a sawing motion....in a moment she figured out what we needed and replied to our pantomime with the knife across the throat gesture with sound effects! It was hilarious; and yes, we got our knife. You gotta love it!
Brasserie Egalite Parvis de Saint-Gilles 47 Brussels, Belgium
Instead of heading back to the apartment which I don't think was ready yet, we strolled around and actually found a friterie that I had on my list; Friterie de la Barriere, which is a little frietkot on Avenue du Parc.
It was just past 11am and there was a line. So I took a peek and one of the guys in front of me who was chatting with his friends in Flemish, turned to me and said, "no worries. this place makes the best frites in the area....." Say no more......
So I got the frites, with aioli. I thought these were pretty good, not greasy, crisp exterior, fluffy exterior, but nothing special overall. After having several versions of frites in Belgium; the Missus claimed to not get what the love of frites was all about....and then she'd proceed to attack it.......
Friterie de la Barriere 5 Avenue du Parc Brussels, Belgium
By now it was time to check-in and a nap......
We awoke made a simple dinner with what we had......
Of course the Missus had something from Cantillon, Cuvee Saintt Gilloise, which She loved. The sour-tart tones were balanced out with what I can only describe as an earthy flavor. Very nice and refreshing.
I tend to enjoy tripels, so I went with the Val-Dieu tripel. I really enjoyed this; there seemed to have an apple-honey background, while not being too "bready" or boozy. Man, his was a nice beer. I need to find a bottle of this here in San Diego....though I've found that versions of the Belgian's I've had here don't taste quite the same.
And while I really enjoyed that Val-Dieu, it was the next beer I had that really made my day. I decided to try something named "Hop-Ruiter". Man, this was really good....just enough hops for me; that would be south of an IPA; yet quite floral to the nose. The flavor doesn't quite go into dubbel-tripel territory, yet the honey flavors and some citrus tones are there. We'd return to Moeder Lambic the next night so I could have this again. I did find bottles of this here in San Diego, but the overall aroma and flavor was totally different.
The Missus tried the Caulier 28.
We really enjoyed Moeder Lambic; the folks here were very nice and it seemed less touristy than the Fontainas location.
Moeder Lambic Rue de Savoie 68 Brussels, Belgium
While the Saint-Gilles area seemed a bit more "gritty" than Central Brussels or St Catherine, it seemed to have much more of the local color which we enjoyed.
We got to sleep early, tomorrow was going to be a full day.....
Lunch had been a wonderful, but pretty rich meal. Since we had an apartment, we decided to self cater dinner and dropped by a couple of the nearby shops.
Some nice cheese from the cheese shop, tomatoes, head cheese and prosciutto from the nice gourmet shop on Rue St Catherine. There's a good sized Delhaize Supermarket on Anspach where we picked up greens for a salad......we just needed some greens after all of this. And beer of course......
And so we headed back to the apartment with dinner all set. It would be nice to relax since we'd bee flying to Prague in the morning.
Funny thing, I hadn't even heard of a "Chinatown" in Brussels, but then we passed a short strip of Chinese restaurants and markets right across the Stock Exchange Building (the Bourse), so of course we had to check at least on of the markets out.....man, it was sticker shock.
Try almost 17 Euros for a small bag of frozen Jiaozi.....
The Asian vegetables seemed pretty scarce and did not look in very good shape as well.....
The Missus couldn't help but laugh when She saw this......
Man, it would be tough if we lived here......
We also checked out the menus and offerings of some of the Chinese Restaurants on the street.....
And decided to stop after seeing the 6,80 Euro ($9.25) price for 4 pieces of Shiu Mai.....then of course those places that serve Chinese-Vietnamese-Thai-Sushi......
We headed back to the apartment and took our usual afternoon nap, awakening a short while later. It was time for us to shake off our grogginess. The sun was out and wasn't scheduled to set until almost 10pm, so we headed back to Place Poelaert and the Upper Town.
We passed by several sections of Brussels' midievel city wall and Eglise Notre Dame a la Chappelle, which is Brussels' oldest existing church.
We got to the Marolles neighborhood and took the elevator up to Place Poelaert. All the rain and dreary weather had been chased away, it was now a bright and sunny afternoon. Too bad we were leaving the next morning.
The view from here when the sky is clear is quite nice. You get to appreciate Brussels....
We strolled around the Upper Town area, antique and designer shops, and some interesting cafes and restaurants as well. Love Joel Robuchon, not sure about his sushi though.....
My MIL loves chocolate....we were in Belgium, so we decided to get her a collection of chocolate from our travels....but not just ordinary stuff...i.e. Godiva, Neuhaus, Leonidas....no we'd try and get her a variety with a little meaning, not just the usual tourist stuff. It just so happens that Pierre Marcolini's flagship store was right along our path back to the apartment.
Winner of the 1995 World Cup of Pastry and known as a master chocolatier, this would be a good start for my MIL's collection. The variety of flavors and chocolates of various regions made this quite an interesting experience for us, which would suite us well later on.
The shop actually looks more like a fine jewelry shop, boutique, or gallery than a chocolate shop. So we made our first purchases for my MIL here.
I think it was a nice start.....
The day was so bright and beautiful, folks were out and about, the cafes (the beer cafes) seem to be doing great business with folks enjoying the weather. It was a perfect chance to check out the Fontainas location of the legendary Brussels' beer bar Moeder Lambic.
The Missus and I immediately loved the place....there are no airs...what few tourists who came in and stared in awe at the beer list of unfamiliar and familiar brews were treated graciously and there was harmony with the locals....who seemed to appreciate the fact that folks were making the effort to find the place...which isn't hard, but like Le Fin de Siècle, you pretty much either just run into the place or have to seek it out.
It's easy to just stare off into space at the listing of beers familiar and unfamiliar. The Servers were really nice with the 2 parties of tourists we saw....
The Missus and I, knowing how analysis-paralysis would be, just went for it. She ordered a Gueuze Tilquin and I a De Ranke Guldenberg.
We've had Tilquin here in the states, but this was a bit different; you could make a out a bit more fruitiness, though it was still pretty funky and puckery-dry. The Guldenberg was a nice tripel, a bit more hoppy than what I expected, with almost the feel of a boozy saison. A very nice beer. This place should be on any list if you're in the area and enjoy beer. We'd go to the original location of the Moeder Lambic on our way back, which we laso loved.
Moeder Lambic Place Fontainas 8 Brussels, Belgium
It was a beautiful afternoon. On the way back to the apartment we passed a bar that had a street musician playing an electric violin, I wish I recorded it.......he started playing as we passed...I recognized the music right away. I Love Rock and Roll.....a Joan Jett classic! It seems like all the places we visited (in both the Czech Republic and Belgium) loved American and English music...whether rap, death metal (Moeder Lambic in St Gilles), Jazz, or good 'old Rock n' Roll. Honestly, I think it might be our greatest export. As the violinist hit the chorus, the entire street broke out and sang with unbridled joy and spirit:
"I love rock and roll So put another dime in the jukebox, baby I love rock and roll So come and take your time and dance with me....."
It was just the cherry on top of the sundae for us.....ending a very nice afternoon.
We returned to the apartment we were staying at smiling. Like most of these type of units we've stayed at; there's no lift, the stairs can be narrow and somewhat steep. We were rewarded in that this was a single unit above a a gallery that was closed the two days we were staying there. There was also a wonderful, older cat named "Sushi", mellow and sweet, he was a good ambassador for the place. The bedroom and bathroom was on one floor with a kitchen nook above.
It was a nice place to make a quick breakfast, or do a quick post, like I did, or have a nice little dinner, like we did on this evening.
With of course, some beer.......most stores sell singles here; and those Belgian's go for less than 2 Euros a piece, so how could we resist?
The Missus prepped a quick breakfast for us, we'd be heading out early for our next stop.....Prague and the Czech Republic.....
Morning's are our favorite time when we travel. We're usually early birds, so we get going fairly early to check out the the sights in the peace and quiet. Speaking of peace, as much as we found amusement in Manneken Pis, we kinda enjoyed "Manneken Peace" a lot as well. This street art is about a block from MP, just around the corner from where we were staying.
Wanting to see Grand Place in the morning, we headed back up the three blocks. A pleasant walk without the crowds and the smells of waffles in the air.
The buildings of Grand Place looked so stately at this time of the morning.
The most impressive building is easily the Town Hall (photo right) with its 300 foot tall tower. It's quite difficult to capture the entire building in a single shot. The photo above is of the "Maison du Roi" or King's House, which is also called the "Broodhuis" in Flemish since buildings in this spot served both as a bread market and an administrative building for the rulers of the House of Hapsburg. This structure was built in 1890 and now houses the City Museum.
Each of the guild houses surrounding the square has it's own statue crowning its roof. Many of the buildings are named by the statue or some detail or decoration on the building. This is probably how people found these buildings before the advent of the address. On the bottom right of the photo below, you can see a swan above the doorway. This place is known as the Swan House. All of these places have a place in history. In 1847 - 1848, this building contained a bar, which was the place where Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx met and drafted the Communist Manifesto.
We had pretty good timing. Just as we were leaving delivery and sanitation trucks invaded the peace and quiet of Grand Place. We headed back to the apartment and had some tea and planned our morning walk. After checking out some of the markets in the area we headed uphill and a few streets later we were staring at the Palace of Justice and the Infantry Memorial.
We turned and headed down the rather busy Rue de la Regence at a leisurely pace until we came to one of my favorite little parks in Brussels; the Place du Petit Sablon. There are 48 columns surrounding the park. Each one is topped with a statue which represent the ancient craftsmen of Belgium.
Within the park there are 10 larger statues of Belgium's great thinkers of the era. I was surprised that I actually knew some of these; especially Gerardus Mercator, the great cartographer whose Mercator Projection revolutionized accurate navigation in its time allowing for "true direction" calculations. I'd read about some of these folks over the years but have to sheepishly admit, I didn't know they were Flemish/Belgian.
The garden itself is quite beautiful and peaceful, a nice oasis to relax and recharge; even on a overcast and drizzly morning.
The two fellows adopting the rather Shakespearean pose above the fountain in the park are Lamoral, Count of Egmont and Philip de Montmorency, Count of Hoorn, simply known in Belgian history as "Egmond en Hoorne", who stood against the Spanish Inquisition and rule. Both were executed; beheaded on June 5th 1568 in front of the Town Hall in Grand Place. One of the events that sparked the Eighty Years War which eventually led to an independent Dutch Republic.
Across the street from Place du Petit Sablon resides the very gothic looking Notre Dame du Sablon which took about 149 years to build. Along with the wonderful stained glass, there is a small wooden statue of Mary, a copy of the original which was destroyed by Protestants that had healing powers. In 1348, the statue was located in Antwerp, it spoke to a woman named Beatrix. It instructed her to take it....she snatched the statue, boarded a boat, and headed to Brussels. When a crowd of Antwerpen citizens tried to stop her; the statue froze them in their tracks! The statue arrived to great fanfare in Brussels and this church was built in its honor.....you'll see several images of boats around the church.
After this short visit we headed down (up?) the street, past the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, which ended with us staring at the Royal Palace.
We actually enjoyed the view looking down from the Mont de Arts Steps which started across the street from the Royal Palace.
After this it was window shopping in the areas surrounding Grand Place, then off to the neighborhood of St Catherine for lunch. Initially, I thought we'd grab unch at the very popular Nordzee Seafood Bar, but the Missus was interested in something more substantial....I knew just the place.
Located close to where Rue St Catherine become Rue de Flandre, a street full of cafes and shops, in the former location of a butcher shop resides "Long Live my Grandmother", the very well known and recommended Viva M'Boma, which was described as a shop that creates dishes from all parts of the animal except the "squeeks...moo's....and baaa's".
We were seated right at the front window....we had arrived right when they opened.
The biggest dilemma for us was what to order......the veal kidneys? Horse steak? Steak tartare.....Lamb tongues???
The one thing we did know was that we'd be having some beer....though we were still showing a bit of restraint at this point, it was just one, the 1882 Gueuze Girardin (white label).
Funky to the nose, typical gueuze flavor, the finish mildly dry.
I love head cheese, so we had to start with the "Homemade Pressed Pork Head", which was the best head cheese (and we had quite a bit) on our trip.
The mustard vinaigrette was such a nice foil for the porky goodness.......I finished every little crumb of meat on the plate.
The Missus went with the Pot au feu with Veal Cheeks, Oxtail, and Marrow.
The Missus marveled at how each different cut had retained its own flavor....each different from the other The flavors just popped in the very clean well prepared broth. I loved the perfectly rendered bone marrow. It was just the perfect texture of meltingly globby. It's not the under roasted piece of pencil erasure that is the norm here in San Diego.
I really enjoyed my Veal Sweetbreads in Mustard Sauce.
While the mashed potatoes were velvety smooth, they were a bit too much of a "butter wonderland" for me. Those fantastically steamed, firm yet creamy sweetbreads were just plain delici-yoso! The mustard sauce added just the right amount of ooomph to conteract the rather rich texture of the sweetbreads. You got a nice, slightly metallic finish that seemed pleasant. Even the Missus, who is not a big fan of sweetbreads just loved this.
This was a wonderful lunch stop for us. The service was professional without being stuffy....our server had a sense of humor and was quite efficient. We'll gladly return whenever we're in Brussels again.
Viva M'Boma Rue de Flandre 17 Brussels, Belgium
After lunch it was time for some shopping....we'd be self-catering dinner, then a nap of course!
I'm not sure exactly when the Missus and I decided on Belgium as a destination, but somewhere after the New Year, the Missus's love of Belgian brews ignited, and airfare to Brussels seemed reasonable...Prague had always been in the picture, but Belgium, well, that decision was a rather late one.
Which is how we found ourselves in a terrible line at passport control. Honestly, it wasn't even a line at all, just a mass of people in a hallway, more of a cattle pen perhaps, for what seemed a distinctively unorganized entry to the "Capital of the European Union". We basically stood an hour and half in a huge blob of people before making it the actual line for passport control and customs. The folks here are very friendly and nice though. You also seem to have to walk through the entire airport to get to baggage claim (luckily we only had carry-on). It was a slam dunk from there. We found that public transportation in Brussels, like most big cities in Europe is an absolute joy. Down to the lower level and the Express Train to Brussels Centraal Station. The folks at the apartment we were staying at, above an art gallery just a few blocks from the station, perfectly situated for us, gave us impeccable instructions. Within a few minutes we had the keys, gotten some good tips on the area, had climbed up the rather narrow stairway, showered, and were on our way.
We were but three blocks from what became our landmark......
The famous Manneken Pis. You know how they say, "you can't miss it"? Well, in this case, you could miss it if not for the crowds that surround this tiny statue of a little boy peeing.....
The only other constant in the area is the cloying smell of waffles and chocolate, so thick that you can almost see it.
In spite of all the tourists, we quickly noticed that the pace here was quite laid back, unlike Rome, things were low stress, no hard sell, seemingly no scams.....
Grand Place, the former central market square, UNESCO Heritage site, the heart of Brussels, is just a few blocks from Manneken Pis. Also known as Grote Markt in bilingual Belgium, it is indeed a grand sight, even as the clouds rolled in and drops of rain started pouring down.
With the rain falling, it seemed like a good time to get something to eat. Both the Missus and I were starving after our long flight(s). We had been for warned about the "restaurant row" on Rue de Bouchers, by guides, online, and even the folks at the apartment. However, we didn't want to be slogging around, a bit groggy from lack of sleep (I can't sleep on flights), in a city we weren't familiar with. Enter t'Kelderke, located in Grand Place. Yes, it's a tourist restaurant of sorts, downstairs in the cellar right on Grand Place.
I really came to enjoy this type of cellar restaurant. I think there's something rather comforting and cozy, in spite of the darkness.....
Our Server was a rather nice fellow, not overly friendly, but amicable......
Hey, we were in Belgium, right? So it was time for a beer. Not much on the list here, so we started with a Grimbergen Tripel. Kind of light for a tripel, mild citrus tones, not very boozy, and fairly thin tongue feel.
Much like the restaurant itself, it was agreeable, nothing that would challenge you in any way.
The Missus started with the Carbonnade Flamande, the classic Belgian Beef and Beer stew.
And stoemp of course. The stew was ok, the flavor beefy but a bit too sweet, the beef also had a decent flavor, but several pieces were much too tough and fairly dry. The stoemp tasted of too much parsley.
I ordered a Horse Steak medium....which was cooked to a perfect medium.
While the frites were something that could have out of a bag with SYSCO on it; definitely not up to what I would consider Belgian standards, the horse was pretty good. Perhaps not the most gamey, nor sweet horse I've had, more like a powerful grass fed beef sirloin. The Missus absolutely loved it. The Server recommended a mushroom sauce which was served on the side. It had a nice flavor, perhaps a bit heavy on the butter, but not bad.
One thing we quickly noticed, which was a recurring theme was that things weren't overly salted....a nice change of pace from what we're used too.
Overall, a decent meal in a very high tourist area.
T'Kelderke Grand' Place 15 Brussels, Belgium
By the time we worked our way back up to daylight, the rain had long passed and things had dried up a bit. Before we headed back to the apartment for a nap we headed out the other end of Grand Place and to the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert. Built in 1847, this place claims to be the oldest operating shopping mall in Europe.
I really loved the neo-classical design which bestowed a sense of elegance to the glass covered arcade. You really expect great works of art to be lining the walls instead of windows to various chocolate shops and cafes.
We then headed through Rue de Bouchers, wall to wall restaurants waiting for tourists and past the Church of St Nicholas.
Running right into the huge building known as the Bourse - The Stock Exchange Building. Here's a photo of the front form across busy Boulevard Anspach.
Funny thing, we'd just arrived and in the matter of minutes had seen most of lower town sights!
We headed back to the apartment and took a well earned nap. In spite of the rather heavy lunch (and beer), we awoke hungry. We headed on out, walking past all the places we passed before. You notice much more the second, and third time around. Near MP there's this mural of Tintin, the world famous cartoon created by Brussels born cartoonist Hergé.
The Missus and I really enjoyed the murals and street art of Belgium.
Crossing Anspach and past what we call "Brussel's Chinatown" (more in a later post), we got the area known as St Catherine. We really enjoyed the vibe of this area, which seemed even more laid back. The area is dotted with cafes, restaurants, food shops, and such.
Just south of the area on a rather non-descript street is a place I really wanted to check out.
Not much of a sign to speak of, communal seating, the menu is written on a chalkboard (in French - but I heard the Servers explain the dishes in English to some folks), nice selection of beer (served at the perfect temp), this is the type of no-nonsense places I love....though if you'd move this to San Diego it would be full of hipsters and called a Gastropub. And it would make a killing. The prices are right, the service can be on the brusque side.....until they understood that we really appreciated the food and drink. You don't hesitate here....you spot an opening and you go for it.
Decisiveness wins the day here. If they are busy feel free to walk up to the bar and politely order your beer; which in my case was a Trappistes Rochefort 10, a wonderful brown quadrupel with a slight raisin and a wonderful, smooth, tongue coating texture. Man, now this was a beer to sit and savor. As you can tell, I was really starting to get into this.
The Missus ordered what might be Her favorite Gueze of the trip; a Mort Subite. This seemed to have the right combination of a mild fruitiness along with all the sour attributes of a Gueze without being too dry. Something interesting we found was that folks were somewhat surprised that the Missus, a woman, enjoyed sours.
Of course we ate......this time I ordered the Carbonnade Flamande(made with Chimay) which we both really enjoyed. The beef was perfectly cooked, very tender, but not falling apart. The flavor was a nice beefy, with a balanced sweet and savory thing going for it.
The Missus just had to order the Sausage and Stoemp.
Without a doubt the best Stoemp I've ever had. The Missus really enjoyed this, especially the sauce, which I believe was also made with beer, mustard, and probably beef stock.
This was one of our favorite meals of the trip....
The price at 34 Euros ($45) we thought was very reasonable.
Le Fin de Siècle Rue des Chartreux 9 Brussels, Belgium
After dinner we walked around a bit, enjoying the public art.
We stopped by a Carrefour Express and picked up a couple more bottles......just for a nightcap, right?
The Belle-vue Gueuze was very basic, not too sour, middle of the road, with nothing that really stood out.
The Brugge Tripel was quite effervescent for a tripel. Kind of boozy, with some mild fruit. Not the nice texture that I like in a tripel, but not bad.
Yes, we were having a heck of a time....can't you tell?
I realize this was a long one. If you hung around 'til the end, I thank you for reading!