Monday, September 2, 2013

Brussels, Belgium: Eats and more!

I had been to Brussels several times, but most of the time, meeting up with friends and ex-colleagues.  I never played as tourist.  A friend of mine wanted to see Brussels and it was a great opportunity for me to hop on an intercity train (without HT hubbie) and be a Brussels tourist for a weekend.

Where did we go?  I'll save that for later as the main subject for this post is...where did we eat?  (We ate more and spent more time walking to our eating destination than looking for tourist attraction - yes, indeed, my friend is also a foodie)

After checking-in in our hotel at past 22:00, we went out to walk around and stumbled into this crowded friture/frituur.  We grabbed a portion of frites (fries), and chose our own sauce (selection: tartar, mayo is common, curry ketchup, etc).  It was addictive and the portion was good for 2.  It's almost everywhere in Brussels, but I suggest to check out the crowd in the middle of the night (that's where locals flock after a lot of drinking :)). - ~3.2 euros ~this one is in Rue Henn Maus (street)

 Never leave Brussels without grabbing a waffle.  (it's all over the city - you won't miss it).  You can get it with whipped cream, some fruits on top - but for no-frills, get a plain one orwith smudged-dark chocolate.  This one is in Belgaufra (Rue de Neuve shopping street) ~2 euros a piece.


 For lunch, we went to Nordzee, Mer Du Nord @ Rue Sainte Catherine.  We checked on what they offer for that day from the hanging whiteboard, placed our order, paid, left our name, and waited until we hear them shouting from the top of their lungs - yes, we rushed to get our lunch treat.
Fish Soup/Vissoep- lots of taste, veggies and chunks of fish.  My favorite.  We went back the next day and ordered the same for breakfast.  We had bigger chunks of fish when we were there around 11 before the crowd starts to prowl the area. ~5 euro/serving
shrimp croquette/garnalenkroket - my friend loved this.  Best eaten when warm - tasty and chunky. ~8 euros for 2 pieces
Mussels/mosselen -  the season for this shellfish - the 'BER' months!  Cooked with white wine and herbs - it was perfect as a bread dip. (they served unlimited bread).  ~ 8 euros
washed off with white wine - they have spanish, french, italian ~ 2-4 euros 
Around the area are bar type tables where you can placed your plates and start digging in.  Love this street food feeling with real plates.  There's a square in front of the place where this lovely church stands...lovely food in a lovely area...what more can you ask for.

For dinner, we had 2 places on the list - but we decided to go old-school.  Les Brassins - a restaurant near Port de Namur/Naamsepoort.  We took chance and didn't made any reservation.  We arrived around 1930 and they had a few tables where the walk-ins can sit, were still free.  But after half an hour - suddenly the place was packed. 

ham on the bone - I always like eating ham in a Belgian place.  I'm not sure why,but it's been a staple.  This was huge, quite salty (for my friend) but it was fine for me.  It was slightly overcooked as some parts are quite tough. ~ 17 euros

Hare leg stew -  the reason why we went to this place.  I remember HT hubbie saying that it's typical for them eating hare when he was younger so here we are (2 asians curious of how it taste like).  Their version is simmered with kriek bier - cherry beer.  I was disappointed because there's not much taste from the sauce to the meat.  They offer 1 leg or 2 legs - glad we sticked to 1 leg.  ~13 euros

Both dishes came with this sides - fries and stoemp(stamppot in dutch) - mashed potato with beans (there are different varieties, such as with creme spinach, farmer's cabbage, etc.)  Again, these were all bland. 
The prices of the dishes was reasonable but the food was so-so.  If you wanted to try old Belgian fare for experience, this is the place to go (or better yet go to Brugge).  Otherwise, i suggest to go to some place, where you can get a good burger or pasta or even korean fare.  After all, Brussels, is quite multinational as a city.
After dinner, we were looking for a Belgian dessert.  We rushed to our 2nd place in our dinner list- which I read good reviews on their steak/fries (steak frites) and burgers - but we only had space for a piece of cake.
quirky backdrop of Houtsiplou - Placce Rouppe 9 - a modern simple restaurant...
We ordered speculoos cheesecake - the bottom is made up of speculoos cookies.  The cheesecake was not too sweet and has a smooth texture ~5.50 euros
TIP: Check out this shop for speculoos cookies and spread take home.
It was quite windy and cold that night - so my friend and I decided to grab some hot drinks i.e. coffee for me and I started playing with her chocolat chaud aka hot chocolate with our speculoos cheesecake.
I skipped buying marcolini chocolates, as I have a new favorite - Pierre Ledent's macarons - a friend of mine once bought a box for me...and I just love it.  I got a box of 8 for ~12.50 euros for HT hubbieI love their flavors - green tea, rose water, mint and mojito among others.
And where did we go?
Grand Place/Grote Markt in the evening.
Grand Place/Grote Markt in the morning.
Manneken Pis with clothes
Manneken Pis without clothes
Another Manneken Pis in action
Appreciating the whereabouts in Brussels..

We were lucky to witness this parade...

and more...

I enjoyed my short weekend in Brussels.  Next time, i'll play as HT hubbie's tourist guide.

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