30 July 2009


It is with great pleasure that I went to 'Le Grill du Vieux Boitsfort' (opened in 1993) again after my first visit 4 years ago, when I was there for a business dinner and I left with the expectation to go back again and pay more attention to the food, the service and the place.

This 'brasserie bourgeoise', which is placed in the middle of Boitsfort - a green neighbourhood that really looks like the central square of a small village - is a convivial and welcoming place whose very Flemish-like rustic decoration seems to have been directly pulled from 'Flamant', the famous furniture store (big white counter, elegant brown and orange painted strips on the walls, etc.).

The place, run by restaurateurs Philippe and Nadine Gillet (runners of other restaurants such as Au Vieux Boitsfort, Mamy Louise and Table de Mamy), and who were once awarded with a Michelin star, prepares classic, somewhat foreseeable brasserie style dishes, but quite tasty and with an innovative touch.

Starters may include the unavoidable 'fondus aux deux fromages' (cheese croquettes), the 'salade de pommes de terre à la ciboulette et boudin blanc grillé' (potato salad with a white sausage typical from Belgium), the 'croquettes de petites grises' (shrimp croquettes), but also things such as the 'saucisson de Lyon aux pistaches et pommes nouvelles aux échalotes' (sausage from Lyon with pistaccio, potatos and oignons) or the 'œuf poché la moelle et croûtons frits à l’ail' (smashed egg with garlic bread dies).

However, I strongly recommend to try the 'tartare de thon et roquette au vieux parmesan et fleur de sel'. The mix of the tuna with the rocket is very well balanced and the salt grains found in the mixture add a very tasty final touch without the whole becoming too salty.

Some good examples of classic brasserie with a refined style are proposed among the mains : 'poêlée de filets de bar aux pâtes fraîches, beurre de tomate à l’estragon et olives' (sea-bass), 'blanc de cabillaud, stoemp de poireaux et crème de ciboulette' (cod), 'jambonneau rôti au four, mousseline moutardée à la ciboulette' (quite decent indeed!), 'andouillette de Chédeville "5A" grillée sauce dijonnaise' (typical French sausages) or the 'cuisse de canard confite, persillade et mijoté de lentilles du Puy' (duck).

If you are still hungry, do not hesitate to order the typical dessert in this place, that is, a 'trio of chocolat mousses'. It is really caloric (a lot!) but it is a delicious composition of black, light black and white chocolate... and you don't eat this everyday, do you?

The service is clean and attentive but not enthusiastic (it even seems a bit tired from time to time), even if the cook, Daniel Lopes, who works in an open kitchen, seems to have a good time while cooking.

However, I found that Le Grill du Vieux Boitsfort has two downsides: 1) The music. I really believe that the place could be a more pleasent restaurant if the radio was simply switched off and some jazz or a similar music style was played instead and; 2) The chairs. Why most chairs in brasseries are so rigid and unconfortable?

The place is mentioned in the (Michelin) Bib Gourmand Guide Benelux 2009, which gathers the best finding combining price and quality, but despite of the more than acceptable quality of this place, I would not put this restaurant it in the same basket containing names such as 'Notos' or 'De la Vigne à l'Assiette', which are a step further than 'Le Grill du Vieux Boitsfort'.


Rating: 6.7/10

26 July 2009


In June 1964, the government of the Belgian province of Luxembourg decided to buy a building not far from the European institutions (rue de Luxembourg / rue Marie de Bourgogne), in Brussels.

The idea was that the place became a meeting point for Belgian Luxembourgers in Brussels and that the house gathered the economic, cultural, social, touristic and culinary expressions of this Belgian province.

The building however was given other uses until 2006, when a huge revamping took place and the management was given to chef Philippe Lecomte (Renaissance), a Belgian Luxembourger himself, who, at the beginning of 2009 opened an elegant, clean, contemporary restaurant with an open kitchen and decoration using chocolate, grey and vanilla colours.

Now the place proposes a tasty, elaborated and original French and Belgian cuisine (please be advised that the portions are not very big here). However, the genuine, distinctive true aspect of the restaurant is not the Belgian cuisine istelf (as you could find this somewhere else), but to ensure the promotion of the products and the culinary arts of the Belgian Luxembourg province.

By the way, most of the products used or served in this place bear the typical certification symbol of the province (a wild pig) and are directly delivered to the restaurant by the producers themselves.

As far as the menu is concerned, which combines more meat than fish, the place proposes perfectly executed treats such as the ‘Ravioles au fromage de chèvre’ (starter), the ‘Agneau de la ferme Belle-vue en croûte d’olives, orge perlé, jus au thym citron’, or the ‘Faux filet de veau, asperges meunières et jeunes oignons, sauce béarnaise’.

The service is welcoming, helpful and smiling, and Philippe Lecomte is a very easy-going and friendly lad.

Among the international clientele that enjoy ‘La Maison du Luxembourg’, it seems that the Czechs are especially recidivists. This is maybe because the restaurant is one of the few places in Brussels that serve the iconic Czech liqueur Becherovka.


Rating: 6.8/10

21 July 2009

TOUCAN, Brussels

Everytime I walked down Av. Lepoutre / Chaussée. de Waterloo I used to look into this glamorous brasserie bourgeoise from the street expecting to have a good reason to get in.

The years went by and I went to many other places to have lunch, to have dinner, with friends, for business, but never to Toucan... until yesterday. And I was deeply disappointed!

I am not saying I would have not preferred not to try it either, as now I know I won't repeat it for a long, very long time.

I know this article may dislike those who like thinking they are smarter than the rest, or at least smart enough to have the good taste to go to a trendy, chic, colourful address in Brussels placed on one of the best corners in town, which is indeed true, but the fact is that Brussels offers better, in fact much better in terms of quality, cuisine execution, emotion, atmosphere, service, comfort and price.

To me it's simply not enough that a bunch of good guides such as Gault Millau, Delta or newspapers such as Tribune de Bruxelles or L'Echo write good articles about this restaurant (or any other) and highlight the merits of the chef, the freshness of the menu, the care taken to the decoration using specific carrelage, nice chaires and a big sculpture of Armand Jonckers, point out the great culinary influences of Southwest France, that is, where Jean-Michel Hamon (the owner) comes from if people I go with / myself don't enjoy what we eat.

And I am indeed not very exigent either with what I eat and what I like and what I enjoy, but I simply think that a 'beef carpaccio with piquillo peppers and citronnelle' should never be a lake of olive oil where you don't even see the parmesan cheese slices, which are drown into the oil, and that a 'carré d'agneau rôti au thym frais' should never taste to other dishes (they may have used the same pan or put it into the oven with other food...), and that the 'soup of the day' should never be so salty that you can't even finish it, even if it is served in a relatively small bowl.

By the way, this is as unacceptable as a 'millefeuille de thon rouge à la ventrèche et fondu de poireaux' that had no taste, or a 'dos de cabillaud vapeur au fondu de tomate' which was as tasty as the 'millefeuille' but with a couple of sad potatoes, carrots and broccoli as a garniture...

And finally, the apple cake, which had no taste, no sugar, no caramel, nothing, was too cooked and had the bottom completely burnt... A shame.

I should probably try this brasserie bourgeoise again in the future and avoid a second disappointment ordering more classic, less adventurous brasserie dishes such as 'croquettes de crevettes', the 'jambonneau', the 'pure beef fillet with pepper sauce and French fries'... but given that there are thousands of good brasseries in Brussels that execute such dishes extremely well, it is unlikely I go to Toucan (and not recommend it either) to eat this.

A pitty!

I hope that the new Toucan in the family, the recently opened 'Toucan-sur-mer', improves the level of its brother.


Rating: 4/10

19 July 2009

MAXBURG, Brussels

Andrea Hauptmann, a German national, took over the 'Maxburg', an iconic German restaurant in the heart of the Brussels European quarter (and one of the very few German restaurants in Brussels) around 10 years ago.

However, this culinary institution has been serving excellent schnitzels and other tasty German specialities for more than 30 years!

But not just the food, the beers (namely the Bitburger, Kölsch, König Pilsner et Weissbierand) the wine are German here. The wooden hut-like place itself seems to have been pulled from a genuine German town too.

Apart from schnitzels, which are prepared in more than 20 different ways, the place is famous for dishes such as the stuffed roulade of beef, the soups (starters), charcuterie, pasta with Swiss cheese and onions, smoked pork with sauerkraut (choucroute), and jambonneau.

The place also offers more seasonal preparations such as white aspargus and game, and mushrooms such as chanterelle.

Maxburg has become a very popular, informal and international meeting point for all kind of people.

It is said that Colin Powell, who does not eat pork, had lunch in the Maxburg once and that he ordered a veal schnitzel, not a pork schnitzel, so there is always an alternative for those not eating pork in this such special restaurant.


Rating: 6.3/10

07 July 2009


I have to admit that the restaurant 'Onder de Linde' (see my previous article) was so good that it probably neutralised my ability to write about any other place for a while...

Anyway, I thought I knew everything about restaurants in the Brussels' European district until I realised I was wrong when a colleague in the office introduced me to 'L'Atlantide', a Greek restaurant with genuine, excellent and unpretentious food.

Quite wisely, the place forgets about columns, agoras and decoration filled with scale Parthenons... to give the small pleasures of the authentic Greek cuisine the leading role.

Good examples of the above are the starters "dolmadakia" (rice stuffed vines), "pikilia" (assortment of tarama, tzatziki, eggplant puré in olive oil, sheep cheese, lemon marinated mushrooms), "saganaki" (panned kefalograviera cheese), "tyropita" (cheese puff pastry), "kolokithokeftedes" (zucchini balls)...

The mains are also excellent, especially those with lamb shoulder such as "arnaki ladorigani" (with origan), "arnaki kokinisto" (with tomato sauce), "arnaki fricassé" (with lemon sauce and salade), "yiouvetsi" (with small Greek typical pasta)...

The 'must-eat' "moussaka" and the different combinations of "souvlakia" are typical and foreseeable but also deserve a try as they are perfectly executed.

The place is a well known address for Greeks, who make the half of the tables of the restaurant (a good sign).

The restaurant has a varied Greek wine menu with excellent proposals for all budgets.

Finally, the service is kind and the place is clean.


Rating : 6.5/10