A hidden gem set in a deep cellar right off the main Grand Place square in Brussels/Bruxelles. This is the one of the few authentic Belgium restaurants serving real Belgium food from an authentic the dining area set in vaulted cellars accessed from an inconspicuous entrance on the main square. Hustling and bustling with a combination of quintessential European elite, international tourists, visiting professionals and business people This is the place to come to sample Belgium food and see the world cruise trough Europe, it culture and its food. Not a restaurant but a cultural experience!
I have been visiting this restaurant off and on for nearly 20 years now and nothing has changed, nor has my favourite meal here, which is what I ordered yet again. As an entrée I had the frogs legs cooked in oil and garlic with a cress garnish, the oil and garlic was soaked up with artisan bread and the legs tasted delicious as I ate them using my fingers as I nibble the limited flesh off the minute thigh bones of the frog legs.
The main course was a succulent piece of filet steak cooked to perfection, a little crusty on the outside yet rare inside, and accompanied by side a plate of home cooked fries salted and peppered to taste.
Wine and beverages
There are some nice wines on the wine list here and indeed some wonderful Belgium beers but a small carafe of house red is all that is needed with this meal. The house red was very plummy and smooth. I might have preferred a more woody dryer wine but this went well with the entrée and the main course.
Atmosphere and decor
It is quite a small restaurant with a only about 50 or so covers with tables set very close together in a Brassiere style. The low vaulted ceilings give a very intimate atmosphere. You feel completely isolated from the outside, whether it is cold and snowy, warm and humid, day or night outside the inside is always the same.
All the tables are made of untreated wood which have warn over the many years of service, the condiments on the table are in there original packaging and here is no china or silverware here adding to the Brassiere and rustic felling of the is place. This is all about good freshly cooked traditional Belgium food. The pace of this restaurant is fast and reservations are not allowed. Its first come first served with a broad range of visitors from the whole of Europe and further afield. There is a regular flow of Japanese visitors so much that they even have a menu in Japanese, one wonders if this place is a little Japanese secret.
The kitchen is opened upon to full view of all the diners and takes up 20% of the small space in the restaurant with three cooks beavering away over copper pans with flames and aromas of the delicious food wafting across the restaurant adding to the atmosphere and experience.
I sat in the far corner just to next to the kitchen in eye contact with the chef, when it was time for my steak to be cooked the chef asked me directly how I wanted it cooked and showed me the piece I was going to get, I sat there drinking my wine watching the chef cook my dinner, how sublime ummm.
You’ll dine next to EU diplomats, business people, and tourists from Japan, US, and the rest of Europe. You can dress with anything from jeans to a suit.
This restaurant is in a vaulted cellar located right on the south end of the Grand Place amongst the cobbled square and all the beautiful Flemish architecture. It is so nice to arrive during daylight descending from the cobbled streets of the Grand Place and then ascending at the end of the night in the dark in the square with all the moody lighting on the old buildings as if you have gone back in time to medieval times.
Over the 20 or so years hat I have been coming here there has been little change in the staff here. The Maitre d' and the head waiter are the same people I remember for nearly 20 years. There level of efficiency and commitment to the job is relaxed and enjoyable, they like being here and respect every diner regardless of whether you are a first time visitor or a regular. If you are a regular you get a handshake and even a welcoming hug. This is old school Belgium service.
In the kitchen there are three cooks, the Chef, a sous chef and a cook all working in a clear hierarchy and you can see the passing of knowledge and skill down the chain as they work, revealing how it is that this restaurant consistently serves top quality traditional Belgium food over the years.