Brussels bleg

I’ll be there next week, in fact just in time for the Brexit vote.  Above and beyond the obvious guidebook sights, what do you all recommend that I do?  And where should I eat?

Here is a good Ian Buruma survey of where Brussels the city is at right now.

Comments

Tyler Cowen cares more about food than I ever will....

Brasserie Cantillon (www.cantillon.be)

Seconded, but I think Tyler is a teetotaler. The brewery tour might be interesting for him nonetheless.

Are the British proud of London? I mean the ones outside of London.

Parts of London are OK, basically the areas near the Queen

Le Fapeau, excellent modern take on traditional Belgian cuisine. One of the few genuinely Belgian places in the city.

Les Brassins is great. The classic thing thing to order is the lapin a la kriek, though anything in the genre of french classics will be excellent. Obviously, the beer is excellent, with the selection of lambics(Fermentation spontanée) particularly good, relative to what you get outside of Belgium. If you can put together a vertical of Cantillon Iris, you're in for a treat.

I'm curious of the inhaled chocolate powder.

Finally, a chance for Prof. Cowen to find better chocolate than this - http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2016/04/how-to-manage-your-supply-of-the-very-best-chocolate.html - and thus solve his dilemma.

Though admittedly, since the best Belgian pralines use fresh butter and cream, technically they are illegal to bring into the U.S. - the expiration date of 10 days (assuming uninterrupted refrigeration) being a hint of what fresh means in this context.

The Bozar Brasserie is excellent, and has the bonus of being attached to one of the city's top arts institutions.

One of my favourites, I can recommend the branch close to the British Museum: http://www.abeno.co.uk

It's good, but it's not Belgian.

Yep, I got that wrong. My geography is not too bad, but the word Brexit triggered the association with London ...

Nuetnigenough for Belgian food. The Horta Museum, followed by a walk around Saint-Gilles to see the Art Nouveau houses.

Agreed about the Art Nouveau houses: best thing in the city (other than the food and drink).

Just saw the restaurant advice. Can recommend (in fact did, below).

I hear their sprouts are to die for...

Everything I ate in Italian restaurants in Belgium was excellent, whereas almost everything I ate in traditional 'Belgian' cuisine establishments was just alright (but didn't visit any high-end examples of either, to be fair). In one mid-priced conventional Belgian restaurant, I did witness a midwestern American woman melting down publicly about the lack of veggies on the menu (and every menu in Belgium, which does seem to trend towards proteins, fats and starches).

Also (and this falls into guidebook territory but still) the museum of musical instruments (MIM) is incredible, even for non-music-lovers, and even though (when I was there) it was using an antiquated audio-tour system.

I'm looking forward to Cowen's observations about just had bad things are in Europe, in particular the countries in the northern region including the Netherlands. Are reports of their demise premature?

Dude: things are bad in Greece and Detroit. Things are good in Silicon Valley and Amsterdam...but it is meaningless to say things are bad in Europe....and There is a huge difference even between the french and dutch part of belgium...

Look for a good Middle Eastern restaurant. The restaurant will probably be safer than a Belgian restaurant frequented by tourists.

a few years ago, I at at a Brussels restaurant called Funghi, that served only mushroom dishes. I found it memorable, though there are some mushrooms with a strong (bad) taste. However, I just googled it and nothing came up.

Googled a mushroom place and nothing came up.

Use a pig.

Tyler,

The traditional Belgian dish that you have never had and you will never get outside of the country is eel in green sauce, really good if done right, but now hard to find. I had some about a week ago here in Antwerp, but it was indeed very hard to find. Got to find a traditional place. One in Brussels that has it is Ben dij Boer, #110 in trip advisor. I did the search for you. Went through about 20 of the restaurants listed under "top seafood restaurants Brussels" before I found one that has it, but this one does, and also has an eel appeatizer. This is what you must have while there. There is nothing like it.

BTW, these traditional places that serve plating t'groen are not touristy and are favored by locals. The one I ate in here in Antwerp, Ciro's described by reviews in trip advisor as a throwback to the 60s, had not tourists near as I could tell. This Ben dij Boer looks like it is similar, off the beaten tourist path.

Les Brassins is very good but small. Better if you book. Amadeus for as much as you can eat spare ribs.

Nuetnigenough restaurant. Nice brussels food (despite the touristic ngb). I miss it.

A beer at La Morte Subite must be had . the food is brasserie basic but the ambience cannot be rivaled.

Oops. La Mort (no e). A classic brasserie near the Grand Place and Central Station

The old standards near the Grand Place...A La Becasse which is one of the oldest pubs in the city and The Theatre Royale de Toone which is a puppet theatre that also doubles as a pub. The Belgian Comic Strip Center is worth a visit if you like that sort of stuff.

Joue de Vache is a nice, not very well-known Belgian restaurant near place Schuman.

I always check out the manneqin piss, then walk around that central square area and have mussels with french fries and a beer. Mussels in Brussels! Ha ha.

Comparative beer tastings. Any place that offers flights.

Be sure to visit, before you go, my favorite website:
http://uglybelgianhouses.tumblr.com/

I enjoyed this walk-up fish/seafood bar:

http://vishandelnoordzee.be/

It's an interesting concept, I enjoyed the food, and it's close to the city center (I know, this is supposed to be a bad thing).

Try the Koekelberg Cathedral. It's a weirdly unique Art-Deco monstrosity. I really enjoyed my visit, especially the tower climb. https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nationale_Basiliek_van_het_Heilig_Hart

Brasserie Ploegmans on the rue haute street (which has a lot of antiques shops and is near the flee market) : tradional belgian dishes & brasserie atmosphere (uncomfortable seats, quite some noise, and an owner that looks older than the wood used for the chairs and tables - yet always great)
La belle maraichere on the sainte Catherine square : the place is getting old but their amazing seafood remains
Brasserie de la paix in Anderlecht : best meat in town
On the high end side, the sea grill is my favourite of the many Michelin star restaurants the city has (comme chez soi is the most famous and another very safe bet)

Don't remember your take on beers but if you want to sample some, the best place (by a mile) is the bar "moeder lambic" on the rue de Savoie in Saint Gilles- very cosy place with passionate bartenders and an amazing beer list

The Magritte Museum has some of his best stuff.

If you like offals, viva'm boma is the place to be: https://www.facebook.com/VIVA-Mboma-376525699145089/

If you want to eat local with locals (les brassins or ploegmans are not that great if you look at what's in the plate): Friture René in anderlecht is where you want to go (http://www.brusselskitchen.com/friture-rene/bruxelles/restaurant)

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