Life in (and around) Brussels…

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


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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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The best croissant quest

By no means do I consider my quest for Brussels’ best croissant to be over, but here is a list of preliminary results, as I feel comfortable enough with the quality of the two croissants that top my list so far.

Top choices:

  • Charli Boulangerie – crispy, perfect sweet-salty balance
  • La Fleur du Pain (place Flagey) – crispy and great taste

Worth mentioning:

  • Yasushi Sasaki, which I have reviewed for its amazing cakes here

Are there any other croissants in Brussels I should try? Leave a comment or send me a suggestion via Twitter!

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The Easter egg lowdown

Eastereggs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a nutshell: Corne Port Royal wins for best value. Best taste goes to Godiva, although Corne Port Royal follows closely.

Shopping tips:

  • Avoid the touristy Sablon area and go to Place Stephanie, which has all the chocolate makers (Leonidas is in metro Louise and Galerie Louise) and nicer service, including often a free praline sample with any purchase.
  • Chocolate description leaflets at the end of this post!

After some serious taste testing (involving all flavors and several rounds, just to make sure…), here’s my lowdown on some of the main Easter eggs available this season:

1. Leonidas

  • Most affordable option (less than half price of Godiva and Neuhaus) and 14 different flavors (3 white, 6 milk, 5 dark). EUR 24 per kilo.
  • Good option for milk chocolate lovers. The dark chocolate is however, not as smooth and tasty as that of the other brands. White chocolate is good.
  • Best option for indiscriminate, high-consumption eating (i.e., kids, non-targeted gift giving)
  • Buying tip: Get the bright pink “Pop” Easter egg, which has sparking sugar – fun to eat! You won’t find this from any of the other producers reviewed here.

2. Corne Port Royal

  • 10 different flavors (2 white, 4 milk, 4 dark – some of them are the same, but milk vs. dark chocolate variations) at a mid- to high-range EUR 54 per kilo.
  • The chocolate quality is very good (dark, milk and white): better than Leonidas, and close to Godiva (and for my personal taste, better than Neuhaus)
  • Best option overall
  • Buying tip: The packaged options do not all have the same price by weight. My recommendation is the 10-egg long box, which looks great, and is one of the best values at 5 euros (Neuhaus has the same, but with 11 eggs, and it sells for 9 euros…).

3. Godiva

  • Loved the chocolate (dark chocolate in particular) and the 9 different flavors (1 white, 3 milk, 5 dark), which are a good mix of traditional and original (e.g., coffee ganache, speculoos mousse, hazelnut praline, dark chocolate ganache, raspeberry mousse)
  • Great presentation and gift options
  • But… I can’t afford to have too many of them, as they’re pretty pricey at EUR 63 per kilo
  • Best option for dark chocolate lovers, and probably my preferred option overall if price were not an issue
  • Neuhaus and Godiva have similar price points. For regular pralines, I think Neuhaus is better, but Godiva beats Neuhaus by far when it comes to Easter eggs and hot chocolate.

4. Neuhaus

  • 16 different flavors with some nice packaging options at EUR 60 per kilo
  • Many of the eggs have a creamy filling, which I personally do not like
  • Best option if you like creamy fillings
  • Ok, but not worth the high price. Their regular pralines are a better choice than their Easter eggs.

Chocolate descriptive leaflets:

Corne-descrip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Godiva-descrip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Neuhaus-descrip1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Neuhaus-descrip2


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Mo-Mo Tibetan dumplings

After several months of underwhelming food experiences, I am thrilled to have stumbled upon Mo-Mo, an understated Tibetan dumpling and soup joint on rue Defacqz, only a couple of blocks away from Avenue Louise and the popular Chatelain area.

A bit of background…
As explained by The Foodalist, besides offering great food, Mo-Mo also has a nobler purpose (although if you ask me, delighting taste buds at a reasonable price is quite a noble undertaking in and of itself!) as it contributes to the reintegration of former female Tibetan political prisoners, who work at Mo-Mo as cooks. 

The food…
But on to the actual food: The menu is basic and straightforward and focuses on Momo (= dumplings in Tibetan) and several different soups, with prices ranging from a very reasonable 5 euros for a 5-piece Momo basket, to 7 to 12 euros for a soup. The lunch special (small soup, 5-piece momo basket and steamed veggies) is 10 euros – a good deal, but as a meat eater, I would rather pay a bit more and go for a meat dumpling soup and a veggie momo basket for a total of 12 euros.

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Eat in and take out…
The food (organic, fair trade fare) has a delicious and fresh homemade taste, which was enough to make me go there three times in a week once I discovered Mo-Mo. And something I love about this place is that they do take out (super fast and friendly service) which is fantastic if you have to run back to the office, or if you decide to take a long break and eat outdoors in a park (my pick would be Parc Tenbosch – a 15-min walk away).

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Take a look at the gorgeous pictures by Brussel’s Kitchen and S Marks the Spots who beat me to the discovery of this gem of a restaurant! You can also see photos and descriptions of each dish on Take Eat Easy as they are also part of the restaurants that deliver through that service (but if you are in the area, just do direct take out / pick up – it’s a lot faster!)

Contact details
Mo-Mo
Rue Defacqz 27 (Ixelles)
Phone: +32 2 522 09 68
Opening hours: Tues-Fri 12:00-14:30 and Thu-Sat 18:00-21:30

The menu:

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Change to summer time 31 March

“Spring forward, fall back”

An early post this year, since there might be some confusion given that the US already changed time last weekend… So what’s Daylight saving?

It’s the time of the year when you get to sleep one hour less, but get to enjoy more (sun)light for a few months!

Daylight Saving Time (DST) in Brussels (and the rest of the EU) starts on Sunday, 31 March 2013, at 2:00h local standard time (at 3:00h in some European countries). That means that at 2:00h, we will have to set our clocks to 3:00h. Important especially if you are traveling on Sunday and have a flight or train to catch!

And remember: Daylight Saving Time is not applied on the same schedule worldwide, so check here if you need to see when the time change will happen elsewhere.

DST ends on Sunday, 27 October 2013 at 3:00h local time.


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Michelin meal on a tram – book now

In a nutshell:

  • Two-hour three-course dinner on a moving tram (especially designed for a seated dinner)
  • Roundtrip from Place Poelaert
  • 34 seats per seating
    • Tuesday to Thursday at 20:00h
    • Friday and Saturday at 18:30 and 21:30
    • Sunday at 12:00
  • Menus designed by chefs from Michelin star restaurants in Belgium
  • EUR 75 per person including wine and water
  • Starts on February 28 until the end of the year
  • Bookings through official site

Read more details in a great post on the Tram Experience in Alison’s blog.