Life in (and around) Brussels…

Random tips on things to do and places to go in Brussels and beyond


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WY restaurant at the Sablon

I finally got around to trying this restaurant which has been nestled in the Mercedes House Sablon corner shop for many years now, boasting one Michelin star already from early on (chef Bart De Pooter is a two star chef as noted on the restaurant website, but this restaurant only has one star.) 

One of the highlights was the staff, which was very friendly and accommodating and the service throughout the meal was excellent.

Now, to the food: Besides ordering à la carte you can pick from the six-item menu (two appetizers, two main courses and two desserts) to have a 3-course lunch for €47, or pick 4 courses for €63, 5 out of the 6 for €78 or all 6 of them for €93. 

Let’s take a look at the meal:

We were greeted by a set of appetizers: coconut milk woth shrimp, curry for the breadsticks, and a seafood waffle

Nice presentation but not much quantity

Close-up shot of the bite-sized waffle

While waiting for the order, this soy-flavored seafood amuse-bouche was presented. Unfortunately it fell apart so I did not experience the mix of flavors in a single bite…

More to make the wait more amenable: bread with herring mousse and lightly salted butter

Smoked Holstein beef with mushroom salad and ice cream

Grilled squid with aubergine dip and peanut crunch served with a pepper sauce. The squid was a bit harder than it should have been and I found the red pepper overpowering . Still enjoyed it though.

Lemon sole with butternut, shellfish, barley and a light parmesan sauce. Nice combination but short of spectacular. The fish failed to melt in my mouth they way it does at Kamo or Chalet de la Foret, for instance. Still an enjoyable dish.

Chocolate mousse with mixed nut crumble. I wish this had been more than just a few bites.


I wouldn’t say the meal was great value as the portions were on the small side, but it was an agreeable lunch with good (albeit not amazing) food (my dining buddy was surprised to hear this had one Michelin star as there are other amazing places that have none but offer a wow experience). The restaurant acoustic was less than ideal for an intimate meal, as was the table layout which seems more appropriate for people watching (we were indeed watched and were watching others throughout the meal). The lighting also felt spotty and a bit of an annoyance for picture-taking (but we won’t hold that against them of course – just a heads-up if you’re taking photos of your food…) 

Overall, it was a nice meal but short of being a life-changing, memorable experience. I might go back for a business lunch, but if I’m the area, would probably choose instead to go to the nearby San Sablon for a much more moderately priced lunch, which my tastebuds also found a bit more refreshing. (Different customers too… the WY crowd was probably on average 15 years older than the San Sablon crowd, which also explains the difference in pricing.) 

Open for lunch and dinner from Monday to Saturday. 

Rue Bodenbroek 22-24 (Grand Sablon)

Book online 

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SAN Sablon – Relish in this fantastic Michelin-Chef creation for €28

I have a new favorite lunch spot in Brussels, and those of you who have been following this blog will know that’s a pretty serious statement. 

SAN Sablon serves an amazing lunch for an unbelievably well-spent €28. This is what happens when a great chef – Sang-hoon Degeimbre from the two Michelin star L’air du temps – decides to open a restaurant in the city just for fun. (This is his second restaurant in Brussels, the other one being SAN Bruxelles on rue de Flandre, featuring the same concept). Although Chef Degeimbre is not in the kitchen, he oversees the creation of the dishes, which are then beautifully executed by his team (of which we saw three kitchen staff and two waiting tables).

Lunch is simple and relatively fast, as summarized on the website and menu (drinks other than the juice and coffee are not included in the €28 and I’d recommend choosing the dessert and the soup as menu options rather than the drinks): 

But let’s take a look at the photos for a more pictorial (and mouth-watering!) review: 

The restaurant offically seats 40 people (although it was only set up for 30 when we went) and has an elegant, modern and stylish decor

SAN Sablon is on rue Joseph Stevens, just off the Sablon and on the same street as the popular Pistolet and Brussels classic Skievelat

The concept: the meal is served in bowls and eaten with a spoon

Bread and butter to greet you and make the (short) wait more amenable

 

All bowls (except the one with dessert) are brought to the table simultaneously. The menu changes every month (if I understood correctly).

Salmon with greek orzo pasta and mushrooms in a deliciously light and refreshing citrus-based sauce

Hake tempura

This is what the delicious hake tempura looked like inside. The tempura was light and crunchy, just like it’s supposed to be

Lacto-fermented vegetables

This was a smooth and delicious lamb cream with crunchy vegetables mixed in

Kumquat madeleine accompanied by a granita of clementine and other fruits

View of the kitchen and bar seating

Drinks menu

Wine list

A few remarks especially for business lunches and families with children: 

  • As promised, the main part of the meal was served quickly and we were done in 30 minutes. However, dessert took a bit long to get out, maybe because the restaurant was filling up, so in the end it took almost an hour for the lunch.
  • Book a table for noon (opening time) to get faster service.
  • The food is delicious but probably not appealing to most kids (other than the dessert), but the staff is friendly and have no problem letting you order just for the adults.
  • They don’t take credit cards so make sure you carry enough cash.
  • The open kitchen doesn’t have the best ventilation system so your clothes will smell like food after your meal… Something to keep in mind if you’re having a client meeting in the afternoon.

All in all, this has been a fantastic find, and I’m already planning the next meal there (need to check on consistency of quality of course… But I could easily make up another excuse to go back! ;))

SAN Sablon – Rue Joseph Stevens 12 – 1000 Brussels 

Reservations online or by phone tel:+32 2 512 42 12

Open from Thursday to Monday. Closed on Tuesday and Wednesday. Lunch menu served only on weekdays. Evenings and weekends only €55 menu available. 


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Brunch at La vita è bella 

Savory menu includes eggs, bacon, vegetables, potatoes, lasagna; sample of homemade cakes

UPDATE 2017: The brunch has been discountinued permanently. 

There’s a great new brunch in town – an Italian brunch run by Italians in a wine bar/restaurant just off Place Jourdan on rue Froissart. 

The restaurant seats about 35-40 people and is decorated in a simple and sleek way with large windows that let lots of natural light in (nice even in autumn’s grey and gloom…)

But on to the food… You basically have two different brunch menus: a sweet buffet breakfast (€12) that includes:

  • Buffet bar of bread, croissants and other pastries
  • A selection of homemade cakes 
  • A basket of butter, jam and Nutella
  • An orange juice, hot drink (coffee or tea) and a cold drink

The second option is the savory menu (€22) which includes all of the above, plus:

  • A plate of hot food including eggs of your choice (frittata pictured below), a selection of seasonal vegetables (all cooked. The tomatoes were amazing!), bacon, and salmon (which we did not order)
  • A small portion of homemade lasagna

(I think that was it but can’t be 100% sure as there was no written menu yet to be found and I’m not sure I followed the whole description of the brunch concept…) But anyway, we went for the big menu and were happy we did so because although the sweet items are good (don’t miss the delicious cakes!), what really stands out and sets this place apart from others is the quality and the generous portions of the savory items. It almost feels like your Mamma or Nonna is making breakfast for you at home. And for the price, which unlike many other brunch venues in town already includes drinks, this is a really good deal.

The place is also perfect for families with small children: the staff is very friendly and accommodating, the food is healthy and homemade, and small kids eat for less (or for free if they’re under 5, which makes sense unlike in other places like the popular La Fabrique, which charges full price to tiny kids who will barely eat!). On top of that, La Vita e Bella also has some high chairs and a changing station for babies.

Maybe we were extra lucky because we went during the opening weekend and they were trying to impress, but I will certainly be going back to this Sunday brunch which has instantly become one of my favorites in town!

La Vita è Bella – rue Froissart 43, 1040 Brussels

Sunday brunch from 10:30 to 15:30, on select Sundays only. See Facebook page for more details and scheduling. 

They also open for breakfast, lunch and dinner from Monday to Friday, and do catering and private events. 

View of the restaurant from the back

drinks, bread, butter, jams and nutella

sample platter of homemade cakes (chocolate, apple, some other fruit)

my eating buddy couldn’t eat the lasagna after finishing this…


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Kamo: best Japanese in town (according to Michelin)

Update: October 2016. Prices have gone up considerably now that Kamo has been in its new and fancier Chaussee de Waterloo location. The lunch special is €22 and other lunch dishes are priced at €25-30 with a more limited selection. tasting menus have also increased in price by €10-15.

***

I finally made it to Kamo – and once I tried it, I had to go back…

This is the only Japanese restaurant in Belgium with a Michelin star, but it is very different from all the other Michelin awarded restaurants in Brussels I have tried… so if you are looking for a fancy dining experience, look elsewhere. If you are just looking for good food, definitely put this on your go-to list!

Kamo must have earned its Michelin star solely on the quality of the food. The venue itself is your simple, small and basic Japanese restaurant with the standard sushi bar seating and about a dozen tables. It is small and relatively packed, no fancy decor, and none of the dressed up waitressing staff you would encounter in your average Michelin joint. Which is what I loved about this place: unpretentious, good food, with fast and friendly service… and good food (did I mention that?) Very good food.

Plus, what other Michelin star restaurant could you eat lunch at for EUR 15??

My tips and highlights:

  • Book in advance (Tel: +32 2 648 78 48) This place is always PACKED. It is closed on weekends.
  • The lunch special is just EUR 15, but arrive early or it might be sold out. Other lunch dishes range from EUR 18 to EUR 25.
  • There are two menus for EUR 45 and EUR 60 if you have time for a leisurely meal and want the full Kamo experience (see a full review from another blog here).
  • For me, the cooked dishes are what really make Kamo stand out and what the chef is best at. Everything I have had there was cooked to perfection, even an “unglamorous” dish, such as fried chicken.
  • If you go for lunch, go with an appetite and get a lunch set (which comes with soup and a few other side dishes) plus another dish a la carte… The food is healthy and light, so it goes down easily!
  • Wanna know more? I will let the pictures talk for themselves… (and check out also some great photos here from Brussels Kitchen)
  • Looking for other things Japanese? Take a look at the Top Japanese restaurants post and other posts.

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Delicious cooked sardines


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Sashimi


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Sashimi lunch set


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Side dish: green beans


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Seafood side dish close up


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Side dish: your simple, basic green salad with traditional Japanese mayo dressing


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Sashimi in sesame sauce and broth (two-step meal: eat half with rice, then put the other half in the broth and add rice). Delicious.


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Sushi


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Best fried chicken ever

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West End creperie

UPDATE 2016: CLOSED

This is another of the top 10 new restaurants identified by LeVif Weekend. I went to West End creperie after having lunch at Piccola Store, and was pleasantly surprised by the quality and reasonable prices of this fairly genuine creperie (I found it to be the best I have tried in Brussels so far.)

The ingredients are fresh, the service is friendly and fast (we had our crepes in about 10 minutes), and the prices will allow you to have a whole meal (savory and sweet crepe and a drink) for about EUR 15 per person, which is not bad for the area.

West End (rue Americaine, 91; Tel: +32 2 538 21 30) is open for lunch on weekdays (special lunch menu available) from 12:00h to 15:00h and dinner 18:30h to 22:00h, all day on Saturday from 12:00h to 22:00h, and 12:00h to 16:00h on Sunday. Closed on Monday.

 

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TakeEatEasy: Food delivery in Brussels

Update July 2016: TakeEatEasy shut down its operations despite the fact that they were great and expanding. But you can still order delivery via Deliveroo. 

Even though the sun has come out in Brussels and the weather seems nicer this year than ever before, there are still those cold, rainy days (regardless of the time of year…) when one does not feel like going out for dinner or even doing a quick run to the supermarket or local restaurant for food.

Image by TakeEatEasy

Image by TakeEatEasy

That’s when food delivery options come in really handy. I had tried Resto-in back when it was called RestoPresto, but it failed to be that “presto” a few times and I found the delivery charges to be fairly high, so I stopped using it.

Then TakeEatEasy came along, and I have used it already several times in only a few weeks, and am happy enough with the service to want to write about it. The highlights:

  • You enter your address and the system lists the restaurants that deliver to your area, along with photos of each dish per restaurant
  • You pick the time of delivery (usually at least 1-1.5 hours from the time you place the order)
  • Delivery is a very reasonable EUR 3.50 with a minimum EUR 20.00 order
  • Pay by credit card online and get an sms confirmation
  • Wait for your order to be delivered – and yes, every time I ordered, they were on time!
  • If you get new members, they get EUR 10 off and you get EUR 10 credit for your next order
  • I tried 3-4 places (Super Filles du Tram, Momo, and a couple of Italian restaurants) and they were all good.

You can get EUR 10 off on your first order using this link (coupon code 5CSEGR). Enjoy!