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edenman
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Couldn't find an existing topic for this, so...

I'm planning a two-week beer trip to Belgium this fall. After I posted here I realized I should put out a call for more restaurants to hit while we're there. We're already planning on Comme Chez Soi in Brussels as a big splurge, but that's as much food research as we've done. We'll be driving all over the place, so location isn't much of a concern...Brussels, Brugge, or any old tiny town in the middle of nowhere. Any recommendations would be helpful, be they fine dining, pub grub, or cheesemaker on a tiny farm.

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Westvleteren - get thee to Westvleteren! Home of (in my opinion) the best beer. I discovered their trappist beer here in Chicago a few years ago only to discover that the monks who brew it do so only on a limited basis. The result meaning that once hooked, I am now forced to suffer through the fact that there is currently no Westvleteren to be had in the city of Chicago. During my last trip to Belgium a couple years ago I made a special trip to the brewery at Westvleteren (on my birthday so my family had to agree to the side trip). In addition to a store where you can buy their beer (for about 1/6th the price it's sold for in the US), they have a cafe serving food including ice cream made from the beer. Best birthday ever.

Official Website - Abbay of Saint Sixtus of Westvleteren

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Westvleteren - get thee to Westvleteren!

I should've mentioned that we're probably going to try to get to every non-Inbev brewery in the country, so I'm mostly looking for food-specific advice...ie the best place for mussels in brugge, or a tiny french bistro in the southwest.

But yea, thanks for the reminder. My travelling buddy and I went to Westvleteren last time we were in Belgium, and I'm contemplating bringing back a case of the 12 (yellow cap) if I can find one of those styrofoam containers to check it as a bag. So good.

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I wish I could remember the names of more of the places we ate at... A few general Brussels suggestions:

In't Spinnekopke (a lot of very traditional and beer based cooking, a somewhat legendary place)

a La Bécasse (pub, has great gueuze and lambic)

Morte Subite (great bar that serves this brewery's beers)

In Brugge, don't miss Staminee de Garre, which is a hidden bar off a tiny alley. About the most charming place in the world. Great beer selection and a nice escape from the more touristy aspects of the town.

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This probably won't help, but ten or fifteen years ago I had a delicious dish of fried eels at a restaurant very close to the beach in or near Knokke. No idea as to the name of the restaurant (I probably didn't even know it when I was eating there). The eels and the incredibly strong wind that evening are about all I can remember about Knokke.

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While you're there, you should get a liege waffle (gaufres de liege) freshly made from a street vendor/fast food window. They're oval, dense, sweet, and dotted with chunks of sugar (some carmelized from the iron). That's one of the first things I'm getting if I ever go back to Brussels.

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Just bought my flights. 16 days in Belgium.

Here are the restaurants and beer bars that we have so far:

Belgium Map

And here's the full map of breweries, brewpubs, beer bars, restaurants:

So Awesome

Any more food establishments that we need to check out?

(btw, I plan on adding comments to the site, so that we can accumulate thumbs up and thumbs down counts for the various places. We'll see when I get around to it....for now, just post here or PM if you have any info)

Edited to fix links.

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I don't, but go to the Reef on a Thursday night and go to the roof to see Brian- you'll know who he is (Anybody Thirsty is apparently his mating call or something like that). He goes to Belgium every year to scout new breweries and beer for the bar- he knows it all.

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In Brugge, 't Brugs Beertje has the largest selection and coolest ambience of any of the ones I hit last time (don't remember the other names). This time will be my first visit to Brussels, but I've heard nothing but good things about Delirium Cafe, another place with a ridiculous bottle selection.

Let me know if you find any gems in either city.

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I don't, but go to the Reef on a Thursday night and go to the roof to see Brian- you'll know who he is (Anybody Thirsty is apparently his mating call or something like that). He goes to Belgium every year to scout new breweries and beer for the bar- he knows it all.
Hmm, that's not going to work as I'm already in Europe. But if anyone happens to follow these instructions, post the answer? ;) And ferment everything, I'll definitely post any highlights.
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Hmm, that's not going to work as I'm already in Europe. But if anyone happens to follow these instructions, post the answer? ;) And ferment everything, I'll definitely post any highlights.
I'll ask Brian for a list for you tomorrow night.
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I was there recently and had a lovely dinner at a place which i think is called Maurice et olivier. It's a lovely little place tucked behind a bookstore. I'm not sure of the price range though, as I wasn't paying, but i don't think it was too horribly expensive.

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I was there recently and had a lovely dinner at a place which i think is called Maurice et olivier. It's a lovely little place tucked behind a bookstore. I'm not sure of the price range though, as I wasn't paying, but i don't think it was too horribly expensive.

This is in brussels? I'm having trouble finding anything on google by that name. Any idea what area of the city it was in?

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Just bought my flights. 16 days in Belgium.

Here are the restaurants and beer bars that we have so far:

Belgium Map

And here's the full map of breweries, brewpubs, beer bars, restaurants:

So Awesome

You're missing Drei Fonteinen in Beersel (on the Church square, walking distance from the castle, which is practically across from the train station) and Erasmus in Brugges. Drei Fonteinen blends its own lambics and serves them and classic Flemish cuisine. Bottles can be purchased around the corner from their tiny shop. Erasmus is a decent hotel (www.hotelerasmus.com) with a beer-oriented restaurant.

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You're missing Drei Fonteinen in Beersel (on the Church square, walking distance from the castle, which is practically across from the train station) and Erasmus in Brugges. Drei Fonteinen blends its own lambics and serves them and classic Flemish cuisine. Bottles can be purchased around the corner from their tiny shop. Erasmus is a decent hotel (www.hotelerasmus.com) with a beer-oriented restaurant.

It's Drie Fonteinen (btw you had me hunting for a little while before I realized), and it's on the map. Thanks for the heads up on Erasmus, will be added soon.

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Got back on Monday from Belgium, and it's taken me some time to decompress and gather my thoughts. In general, I expected more from Belgium than it delivered, food-wise (beer-wise...well, that's another post). The places that purported to specialize in cooking with beer were almost all disappointments, in at least a dish or two. That said, we did have some great food, learned some new stuff, it was just peppered with occasional missed dishes and whatnot. In the interest of relative brevity (ha!), I'll stick to places that we had meals.

Antwerp

't Waagstuk (pics) - the first beer bar stop in the country, and lo and behold, there's a small menu of things cooked with beer! I had a white fish cooked in Chimay white that was very blah. Neil had a veal stew of some sort, better, but still nothing impressive.

Kulminator (pics) - our last beer bar stop. favorite beer bar of the trip, hands down. Kitchen was closed when we got there, but they still served a few different kinds of hard sausage. The chorizo and the other one (can't remember) were both very solid. The regular beer list would make this a great pub. And then you notice the incredible selection of aged beers, and you settle in for a long night of tasting. Had a De Dolle from '82, a Hanssens Oude Kriek from '85, some 4-yr old Orval, etc. Possibly my favorite bar in the entire world.

Westmalle (~30k E/NE from Antwerp)

Westmalle (pics) - the cafe across the street from the Trappist brewery. Food was boring both times we had it (beginning and end of the trip). The beers are both very solid, but the Tripel didn't impress me as much as I expected it to, especially considering they invented the style here.

Hombourg (~40k E/NE from Liege)

Grain D'Orge (pics) - a cool little brewpub. Very basic food menu, but the pasta wasn't bad at all. The brewer was apparently the cook as well, as he had to take a break from brewing to cook our food. Cool little place, the Brice (blond) and 3 Schteng (brown-ish?) were both very solid.

Orval (150k S from Liege, right near the French border)

Orval (pics)- the cafe up the street from the monastery. A fish dish (in cream, coated with cheese) that could have given me a heart attack. Neil had some sort of baked egg and cheese dish. The beer is ok fresh, but incredible aged.

Libramont (120k S/SW from Liege)

Brasserie Yes (pics)- A pretty cool little beer bar and restaurant. Good mussels and ok fries, and a very solid bottle list.

Durbuy (50k S/SW from Liege)

Tartice and Boterhan (pics)- A great little lunch spot in this small town that felt like a fun place to spend a few days. First time for escargot (delicious), and a quiche that was pretty good. They had the beers of the (closed that day) Durboyse brewpub, which were pretty solid.

Brussels

Comme Chez Soi (Neil's pics)- Decadent. "We only have the standard beers" was the response when I asked for a beer list. The food was very, very, very good, and very, very, very expensive. I will go back here in a heartbeat if someone else is paying. I don't remember many of the specific dishes, but there was one with sweetbreads and goose liver that was amazing, earth-shatteringly good.

In 't Spinnekoepke (pic)- traditional belgian fare. Apps were great (more escargot, Ardennes ham) but I mis-ordered and got an overcooked steak that didn't look like it would've been good even if it was cooked correctly. Neil's waterzooi was better. Beer list was pretty good-looking, but they were out of most of it.

Bier Circus (pics)- our favorite beer bar in Brussels. we never ate here, and it was deserted most nights, but the list is great, with a bunch of aged stuff (De Dolle, Fantome, etc). we like Bier Circus alot.

Beersel (10km south of Brussels)

Drie Fonteinen (pics)- cafe around the corner from the brewery. Good selection of the brewery's beers (we had an Oude Geuze from '97). The food was mostly quite good, apps of fois gras and oysters, but I again got screwed on the entree (a chicken dish cooked in Geuze that was overcooked and useless). Neil's rabbit was pretty good.

Watou (50k west of Kortrijk, near French border)

't Hommelhof (pics)- restaurant on the main square in Watou. I finally got a good entree here, an artichoke cooked with mussels, fish, and shrimp, and the app (rabbit terrine) was very good as well. Near the St. Bernardus, De Bie, and Van Eecke breweries, so a pretty good selection of their beers.

Brugge

Cambrinus (pics)- beer bar with a very good (400+) list, well-organized and with descriptions. The food was pretty decent. Good mussels, and Neil's carbonnade wasn't bad. Definitely a bit kitschy for our tastes, atmosphere-wise. Almost an Applebees-of-beer. Conflicted on this place.

't Brugse Beertje (pics) - no food here, but our favorite beer bar in Brugge. A great list, and unrivaled atmosphere.

Hotel Erasmus (pics)- best meal of the trip, aside from CCS, and leaps and bounds cheaper than CCS. A bunch of random, unlisted aged beers made for happy hunting. We came back here to drink the night after eating, since everything else (Beertje, Den Dijver) were closed. Because why would you be open on a wednesday night.

Blaugies (20k SW from Mons)

Blaugies (pics) - restaurant across from the brewery. Excellent saison. Meat was overcooked, but escargot were very good.

Mechelen (between Antwerp and Brussels)

Het Anker (pics) - restaurant next door to the hotel, and next to the brewery. These guys make the Gouden Carolus beers, and they are pretty good on the whole: the tripel is fantastic, and the ambrio is very good as well. The D'Or was a bit sweet for us, and they were out of hte Grand Cru. The food, on the other hand, was an unmitigated disaster: croquettes that were still half-frozen on the inside, short ribs overcooked and slathered with some sort of ketchup-cousin abberation.

Despite all my complaining, we did have some very good food on this trip, and we certainly had a ridiculous number of excellent beers. The full list, and tons of pictures, are here.

ETA: fitting that this is my 500th post, no? [/nerd]

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Welcome back and thanks for the report. You have no idea how jealous I am after seeing the photo of the crate (!) of Westvleteren. Fitting as I am planning on drinking my last bottle on my birthday tomorrow. Off to look into airfares to Belgium...

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Welcome back and thanks for the report. You have no idea how jealous I am after seeing the photo of the crate (!) of Westvleteren. Fitting as I am planning on drinking my last bottle on my birthday tomorrow. Off to look into airfares to Belgium...

I was only able to fit 6 of them into my bag, we drank the rest there. The upside is that a case of that stuff is only 40 euro. It's the transporting back that is the hassle.

I think I might drink one every year or so to see how it ages (supposedly it does splendidly).

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I was only able to fit 6 of them into my bag, we drank the rest there. The upside is that a case of that stuff is only 40 euro. It's the transporting back that is the hassle.

I think I might drink one every year or so to see how it ages (supposedly it does splendidly).

You answered my next question - I was going to ask how you got the entire crate back to the US. On my trip, I only bought a 6 pack and was able to get it all in my bag. Given how ridiculously cheap it is to purchase in Belgium as opposed to in the US (when you can find it), I'm interested to find a way to get more into the country in one shot.

As I mentioned in my last post, I just drank my last bottle from that trip 3 years ago and it tasted great.

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Just returned from trip to Belgium, and although we spent only one day in Brussels, we did hit up this amazing beer bar called L'Atelier in Ixelles (77 Rue Elise), near the two universities. About 200 beers were available, and even though we popped in for one beer, we stayed for three. Or maybe four. I can't quite remember. :D

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Hi all

I am heading to Belgium for 6 nights over the Thanksgiving hols. I will be in Bruges for 4 nights and Brussels for two nights. Day trips to Ghent, Ieper and probably Antwerp, time permitting.

I know that beer and chocolate are must-haves (not at the same time, presumably). I also will have moules and frites of course. Any other delicacies? I'm not hugely into seafood but I like what I like (and I like moules!).

Of the above categories and locations, what are the "must seek out" places - whether it be a specific brewery, store, or restaurant?

I've had a number of different Belgian beers so I would like to seek out those which I won't easily find outside of Belgium. I like Chimay, Leffe, and Lambics if that gives anyone reading this an idea of what I do like. Historical breweries/interesting tours would be a bonus regardless of world-wide reknown.

For chocolate - those less easily found in the US would be good to know. I have had Leonidas, for instance. Most chocolate is good chocolate (milk chocolate and Hersheys notwithstanding - blech) so I am easy to please there. I'll bring home chocolates as gifts, too.

Many thanks. I hope this thread takes off and is helpful to others who are looking for good things to eat in Belgium!

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and thank you kindly!

I completely and whole-heartedly second this suggestion from above.

"'t Brugse Beertje (pics) - no food here, but our favorite beer bar in Brugge. A great list, and unrivaled atmosphere."

A few years back, we dropped in for a quick beer on a rainy day and ended up playing cards with some locales while doing serious damage to the beer list. In the top ten on my list of best days ever.

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Gotta top this one - yum yum!

I completely and whole-heartedly second this suggestion from above.

"'t Brugse Beertje (pics) - no food here, but our favorite beer bar in Brugge. A great list, and unrivaled atmosphere."

A few years back, we dropped in for a quick beer on a rainy day and ended up playing cards with some locales while doing serious damage to the beer list. In the top ten on my list of best days ever.

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I completely and whole-heartedly second this suggestion from above.

"'t Brugse Beertje (pics) - no food here, but our favorite beer bar in Brugge. A great list, and unrivaled atmosphere."

A few years back, we dropped in for a quick beer on a rainy day and ended up playing cards with some locales while doing serious damage to the beer list. In the top ten on my list of best days ever.

Fond, fond memories of that bar.

Also, flygirl tipped me off to the fact that all the links in my above posts are broken. The map application is no longer online, but all the photos can be found here. And the relative URLs are still the same, in case you happen to want to go to photos of a particular place I linked to above. (ie synik.myvnc.com:8008/~eric/pics/073/09-14-Belgium/page03.html translates to www.ericdenman.com/pics/073/09-14-Belgium/page03.html)

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How prevalent is english use there? We are toying with the idea of a 12-13 trip this summer but have zero language skills for the area.

I felt the lack of French a bit in Brussels especially when my high school spanish flooded back.

There was a moment in Bruge when we couldn't convey water to the waiter in a Chinese place but we gestured our way through.

I found the menus very easy to follow, as I did in Paris, thanks to years of Latin.

I did not venture in to the countryside though--Ghent, Bruge, Brussels and Osteend.

Good luck!

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I felt the lack of French a bit in Brussels especially when my high school spanish flooded back.

There was a moment in Bruge when we couldn't convey water to the waiter in a Chinese place but we gestured our way through.

I found the menus very easy to follow, as I did in Paris, thanks to years of Latin.

I did not venture in to the countryside though--Ghent, Bruge, Brussels and Osteend.

Good luck!

Went in 2007, so this may be old data, but English is usually passable in the major cities. Outside of that, seemed like about a 30/70 ratio of english speakers to non. Had many, many awkward phone conversations with breweries, trying to deduce if they were open for visits/tours.

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How prevalent is english use there? We are toying with the idea of a 12-13 trip this summer but have zero language skills for the area.

I used to live in Belgium (in the Dutch-speaking part). While visiting different cities, I had occasion to use my French, but found that most young people working in shops and restaurants spoke English pretty well. And Brussels is very international, so a lot of people speak English. You will also find that people in Bruges are used to tourists and speak English too. Unless you plan on venturing outside of the major cities (like Brussels, Antwerp, Bruges, and Ghent), you should be fine. And if you do go, make sure you visit Van Hecke chocolate shop in Ghent. The chocolates are amazing. Actually, that shop was one of the few places where I had trouble communicating on my own without a Dutch speaker with me becaue the people working there were like my grandmother's age and had little knowledge of English. But even when I went there by myself, pointing and gesturing went a long way...

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Beersel

Brasserie Kasteel Beersel has a nice beer garden in the summer that looks down onto the castle and is great to sit and drink (and eat). In the wintertime, the brasserie is warm and inviting inside. The owner takes great pride in the steak menu--my Simmertal filet was delicious, and he was also really talking up the Paraguayan beef that he now had access to. The smoked salmon starter was fantastic. The beer list is not extensive, but includes Tongerlo, which is always worth drinking. The restaurant, perhaps because it is just outside of Brussels proper, feels homier, more friendly, than most of the places in the city.  

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We really enjoyed Nüetnigenough in Brussels proper close to the pissing statue.  Its at the top of yelp.  It has a small quality beer selection, I had a nice sour aged Kirk and my wife had some sort of abbey ale.  We both enjoyed our meals, I had the jambonneau dijonnaise (ham hock in mustard sauce) and my wife the stoemp saucisses,FONDUE DE poireaux, we enjoyed both and had left overs from each plate to stick in French bread for the next few days' lunch..

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