Food and drink - Brussels - Travel | Monocle


Le Bout de Gras, Châtelain

Born in Réunion and trained in Belgium by a Japanese chef, Laurent Balancy channels his international spirit at this lively bistro. Think classic French dishes with a Creole twist, such as a signature cassoulet spiked with turmeric leaves and garlic. Balancy’s nose-to-tail approach and expert way with a whole fish has earned him many fans. Regulars often turn up for lunch and stay until dinner, working their way through microbrewed suds and easy-to-quaff bottles of natural wine.

89 Rue Américaine, 1050
+32 (0)488 160 012

La Buvette, Haut Saint-Gilles

Once an extension of Café des Spores across the road, this former butcher shop is now a dining destination in its own right. A considered conversion by Lhoas & Lhoas has kept the venue’s decorative quirks and casual elegance. Self-taught Alsace chef Nicolas Scheidt runs the kitchen, whipping up vegetable-focused tasting menus based on whatever looks good at the market. He’s proud, too, of the organic bread from sister bakery Hopla Geiss, the fourth jewel in his budding emporium.

108 Chaussée d’Alsemberg, 1060
+32 (0)2 534 1303

Knees to Chin, Dansaert

A world away from croquettes and carbonnades stew, the flavour-packed summer rolls by Roxane and Agathe Gernaert are served in four spaces across the city. The central concept is simple: a menu of eight rice rolls marrying crunchy vegetables with the likes of duck or aubergine. Hanoi this isn’t but the result is both healthy and delicious. Each roll comes with a sauce and you’re free to mix and match with four other zingy options, provided in squeezy bottles. If you can’t find a seat in the diminutive dining room, there’s a bench outside on Place Sainte-Catherine to savour your spoils.

28 Rue de Flandre, 1000
+32 (0)2 503 1831

Noordzee, Dansaert

There’s no shortage of great seafood spots in town, thanks to a steady supply from the nearby coast. Noordzee (La Mer du Nord, in French) trumps them all, and routinely outshines its competitor ABC Poissonnerie across the road. The fish counter is excellent but it’s long been eclipsed by the sleek cooked-to-order operation. Take your pick from the day’s catch – whelks, whitebait or razor clams, say, scrawled haphazardly on a whiteboard – then decamp to the nearest standing table with a bottle of something crisp and cold. Listen to the sizzle of grills and hot oil and, when your name is hollered, you know you’re in for a treat.

45 Rue Sainte-Catherine, 1000
+32 (0)2 513 1192

Cocina, Flagey

Cocina has a Neapolitan buzz, though the decor – rough-hewn wooden tables, exposed-brick walls and Carrara marble counter – has more than a whiff of Brooklyn about it. Shipped over from Naples, a big wood-fired oven takes centre stage, churning out pitch-perfect pizzas from slow-risen dough. Toppings are everything you’d hope for: Sicilian aubergines, smoked ricotta, black-truffle shavings and more. Cocktails play the Italian card too, from classic spritzes to Negronis. It’s popular so there may be a wait but that’s no hardship when you’re propping up the bar. A second outpost in Châtelain specialises in pasta.

16 Rue Lesbroussart, 1050
+32 (0)2 644 9400

Images: Jussi Puikkonen

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