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Belgium Brussels Bruges

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#1 Andelman

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 03:50 PM

Has anyone been lately? I am going for a work related trip at the end of April (just for a 3 nights) and we are looking for some good recs. We have 2 nights/2 days in Brussels and 1 day/evening in Bruges. Nothing fancy, just some good, solid, un-touristy cooking. Bars and other food-related establishments wanted also. Much appreciated!


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#2 bookluvingbabe

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 05:08 PM

15 years. I remember a really great Chinese place right off the square in Brugge though! Owner spoke not a word of English, we had no French or Flemish or any dialect of Chinese.

That doesn't help you one bit, does it???

#3 Joe H

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 05:55 PM

The Chocolate Line is perhaps the signature chocolate shop in Brugges, perhaps in all of Belgium. 100+ year old store front, chef in a top hat and truffles that I believe are the best I have ever had. I include the original Spruegli (sp?), Christian Constant in Paris and tens of thousands of calories I have invested over the years elsewhere in Europe. I include Munich's Dallmyer in this statement. For the year 2000 my wife and I hosted a party and I hand carried 10 kilos of chocolate from the Chocolate Line to our house. I could have brought chocolate from anywhere-but I picked the Chocolate Line.

Their website: http://thechocolateline.be/Posted Image

#4 SVT

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 09:39 PM

Has anyone been lately? I am going for a work related trip at the end of April (just for a 3 nights) and we are looking for some good recs. We have 2 nights/2 days in Brussels and 1 day/evening in Bruges. Nothing fancy, just some good, solid, un-touristy cooking. Bars and other food-related establishments wanted also. Much appreciated!

I go to Brussels a fair amount for work, and have a few favorites there. For bars, while Delirium gets all of the notice, my favorite place is the fairly well-known Bier Circus, right up by the Theater Circus. Patrick is a friendly, incredibly knowledgable owner, and the bottle list is very nice, including the vintage beers. A bit further down, closer to the Grand Place, is A la Mort Subite, which has a much more traditional feeling and also a nice collection of beers. Good atmosphere, too.

My favorite place to get mussels and fries is Restaurant au vieux Bruxelles, a bit out of the city center. It's small, and in an area that some of my Brussels friends don't typically go to, but I think it's very worthwhile, simple cooking done well. Another place that I like is Restaurant Switch, on Rue de Flandre. Accomplished cooking, not fancy but interesting. At a higher end I like the Museum Brasserie, a good spot for lunch. At a much higher end, I've had two excellent meals at Restaurant Kwint, but the prices will give you expectations that they may not be able to meet.

In Bruges, I have fewer recommendations, but it's hard to skip t'Brugse Beertje, my second favorite beer-drinking bar in the world (after Bier Circus). For a restaurant, I like de Pepermolen--again, nothing extraordinary, but an interesting, changing menu.

#5 Andelman

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 06:33 AM

@booklovingbabe: Thanks! :)
@Joe H: Thank you! Yes, The Chocolate Line was on our list of chocolate shops to check out. Though the cover of that book is a little, um, weird... We have about 4-5 places picked out for Brussels. However, I am a Francophile when it comes to chocolate, so we'll see how this measures up. :)
@SVT: Awesome! Thanks for all the recs. Looking forward to trying some of those places out. I am not sure of the exact location of our hotel, but it seems like it is pretty easy to get around the city. Bier Circus sounds like a given.

Great intel, much appreciated.

Jason Andelman
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www.artisanconfections.com


#6 goldenticket

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 10:02 AM

This thread may also have some suggestions (not super recent).

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#7 leleboo

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 07:41 PM

Andelman, I hope you report back; we're thinking of doing Brussels/Bruges in June. I'll happily pass the beer recs along to my husband, and take the chocolate info for myself and baby-on-board!

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#8 DonRocks

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 08:01 PM

Has anyone been lately? I am going for a work related trip at the end of April (just for a 3 nights) and we are looking for some good recs. We have 2 nights/2 days in Brussels and 1 day/evening in Bruges. Nothing fancy, just some good, solid, un-touristy cooking. Bars and other food-related establishments wanted also. Much appreciated!


Spend one meal at a local moules-frites place (I've only been to the Paris outlet of Chez Léon which is reliable in a Flunch sort-of way, but you can surely do better than this.) If it were me, I'd be looking for local mussels (anything but PEI rope-grown), good frites, and mayo worth dunking into - preferably for lunch, maybe sitting on a patio and sipping a Belgian beer - I can imagine life being worse than this.

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#9 Sundae in the Park

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 10:04 PM

Spend one meal at a local moules-frites place (I've only been to the Paris outlet of Chez Léon which is reliable in a Flunch sort-of way, but you can surely do better than this.) If it were me, I'd be looking for local mussels, good frites, and mayo worth dunking into - preferably for lunch, maybe sitting on a patio and sipping a Belgian beer - I can imagine life being worse than this.


We did this in Brussels when we went years ago. Just wandered around town and looked in the windows, choosing a busy place when we got hungry where the food looked good and the people looked happy. Since I don't eat shellfish or drink much beer, pretty much all but the frites were lost on me (but I can eat a LOT of frites, and I think I had some other kind of good stew), but everyone else was positively blissful. We also did a brewery tour, which smelled great, and even I tasted some lambic beers. I think (it's been a while) we went here.

#10 Pete

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 10:29 AM

15 years. I remember a really great Chinese place right off the square in Brugge though! Owner spoke not a word of English, we had no French or Flemish or any dialect of Chinese.

That doesn't help you one bit, does it???


Say hi next time? I was there 15 years ago as well...went to both Brugge and Brussels. Although I can dig up my notes from then, I doubt that they are relevant at this point. :rolleyes:

Lisa: Do we have any food that wasn't brutally slaughtered?
Homer: Well, I think the veal died of loneliness.


#11 SVT

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 02:23 PM

@booklovingbabe: Thanks! :)
@Joe H: Thank you! Yes, The Chocolate Line was on our list of chocolate shops to check out. Though the cover of that book is a little, um, weird... We have about 4-5 places picked out for Brussels. However, I am a Francophile when it comes to chocolate, so we'll see how this measures up. :)
@SVT: Awesome! Thanks for all the recs. Looking forward to trying some of those places out. I am not sure of the exact location of our hotel, but it seems like it is pretty easy to get around the city. Bier Circus sounds like a given.

Great intel, much appreciated.


One thing I forgot to mention: if you have a chance, I'd highly recommend visiting Cantillon brewery in the South of Brussels. A bit hard to find, but just what one wants to see in a historic gueuze/lambic brewery.

#12 mtureck

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Posted 24 March 2012 - 11:07 AM

Keep in mind you're missing prime mussel season, which is from September through February. You'll still be able to order them in most places, but they probably wont be local.

#13 Andelman

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 04:17 PM

Just returned from Belgium. Thanks to all for the advice. Here is basically what I ate/did:
-Flew into Brussels Friday morning and made a beeline from the airport to the town of Kortrijk (on the French border, near Lille). I was going there to pick up some chocolate supplies from IBC and to visit with a small chocolatier named Geert Vercruysse. He is in the middle of renovating his shop, so we had plenty of time to chat and share mutual interests. He makes a wide variety of bon-bons, using a variety of different couvertures. Also pastry. Great little shop if you ever to happen to find yourself in Kortrijk. ;)

-From there i received a ride to Antwerp from one of Geert's friends and went two chocolate shops (The Chocolate Line and DelRay). Chocolate Line store was nice, and the chocolates had some interesting an unusual flavors (bacon, fried onion, black olive and tomato, sake, etc..) Some were interesting, others pretty disgusting IMHO. The shop was nice, but the chocolates were a bit beat up and I am pretty sure he uses either Belcolade or Callebaut (as do most chocolate shops in Belgium). Nice to visit and one of the better places in Belgium. DelRay was industrial/moderately priced. ho-hum kind of stuff.

-Took the train to Brussels and stopped in to see Laurent Gerbaud and his shop. He is probably one of the better chocolatiers in Brussels and we had some time to chat and I got to see his workshop and taste a lot of his stuff. Another reason his chocolates are so good is that he uses mainly Domori (an Italian chocolate manufacturer) in his bon-bons, bars, and dipped fruit. Nice, young guy doing some great things in Brussels. ANd that was the end of day !. Ate food in a crappy, no name restaurant near my hotel that night. Overcooked and dry rabbit with so-so frites

-Spent Saturday in Brussels. Great breakfast at Charli (a very small boulangerie neat St Catherine). Definitely worth a stop if you are there. Visited Frederic Blondell's chocolate shop in St. Catherine, which was a very nice shop and tearoom. Chocolates were just okay, again, mainly Callebaut stock type stuff. Some interesting flavors. Also went to Marcolini and Wittmer on the Grand Sablon. Wittmer was not that great and the Marcolini shop was very nice and very expensive. However, new to the Sablon is Patrick Roger, an excellent French chocolatier with a beautiful shop. By far my favorite shop of the trip. Yes, in my opinion, the best chocolatier in Belgium right now is French. :) Had dinner that night with friends at Les Brassins in Ixelles, which was really good. Simple brasserie preparations with decent beer list. Not expensive and the service was pleasant an efficient. After more post-dinner drinks, we got frites from the famous Maison Antoine in Place Jourdan. So, so good!

-Sunday in Bruges was nice. Did the brewery tour at DeHalve Maan brewery and then had dinner at Bierbrasserie Cambrinius. Food was decent, but the beer list was extensive. Sat at the bar and drank and ate. Chocolate shops in Bruges were mostly geared for tourists and not very impressive.

-Monday we headed to Ghent, which is a very nice town if you ever get the chance to go. Just ate simple soup for lunch, but the town is great, definitely recommended. Headed back to Brussels that afternoon and had beers at Moderer Lambic (sp??) on Place Fontainas. Great, great unusual beer selection. Cool place. Definitely worth a trip. That was followed by a return trip to Maison Antoine for more frites and dinner at a great Thai place (Deuxime Element, SP??) in Ixelles.

Flew back this morning. Great trip and good food. As for the chocolate scene, well I will elaborate more on that in another post.

Jason Andelman
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