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Beyond Frittes and Waffles - dining alternatives in Brussels and Brugge

Beyond Frittes and Waffles - dining alternatives in Brussels and Brugge

Apr 27th, 2011, 05:57 AM
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Beyond Frittes and Waffles - dining alternatives in Brussels and Brugge

We will be in Belgium for 5 nights this fall and one of my concerns is finding places to dine that offer good quality lighter meals and healthier options than traditional Belgian restaurants.

I do want to avoid Belgian and French food - other than their version of steak tartare which I believe is called steak americaine. I subsisted on that and salads during my 5 visits to Paris, along with some great ethnic restaurants. I assume the same can be done in Belgium and am hoping for some restaurant recommendations for those with similar tastes. It looks like street food, normally something I enjoy, will not be an option for me while traveling within Belgium as I personally cannot imagine something less appealing than frittes with mayo.

French food is my least favorite of any cuisine and Belgian appears similar. Waffles, frittes, anything made with butter and cream are not dishes I would enjoy. I am sure there will be plenty of other options, I just need to do my research ahead of time.

Moderately priced restaurants are preferred and a nice wine list would be a big plus.
kfusto is offline  
Apr 27th, 2011, 06:31 AM
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Wow. I don't even know where to begin. Belgian cuisine goes far, far beyond waffles and frites.

A partial list of places that we go to:

Lettre a Elise Tél. : 02.346.35.61
Chaussée de Waterloo 508
1050 Brussels(Ixelles) Specializes in grilled food.

Le Fruit Defendu
Tél. : 02.347.42.47
Fax : 02.347.42.47
Rue de Tenbosch 108
1050 Brussels (Ixelles) menu changes daily

Tél. : 02.513.29.59
Rue de Livourne (quartier Louise) 154
1000 Brussels. Specialises in "gourmet" Greek food - this is not your average taverna. http://www.notos.be/index_fr.php
Much as I love their food, service can be really good or really iffy.

L'ARROSOIR (watering can)
Tél. : 02.675.42.94
Boulevard du Souverain 256
1160 Brussels (AUDERGHEM)

Tél. : 02.646.83.93
Av. de l'Hippodrome 2
1050 Brussels(Ixelles) specialises in chicken dishes. Great poulet fermier roti. Along those lines, Mme Lienard on 11 rue Washington is the best poultry dealer in town and she has these terrific (cooked) chicken sausages for sale. Regular or spicy. Fabulous. A great snack.

Le Martin-Pecheur (kingfisher)
Tél. : 02.735.56.55
Bd. Brand Whitlock 100
1200 Brussels ( WOLUWE-SAINT-LAMBERT )
no reservations
FoFoBT is offline  
Apr 27th, 2011, 06:50 AM
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Aren't mussels big in Brussels?

Brussels has a couple somewhat touristy restaurant rows on either side of the Grand Place. I believe we had Italian food (pizza and pasta) on separate occaisions. I'm sure you can find anything you want, though. (Admittedly, these might not be of the caliber of FoFoBt's recommendation).

In Bruges, we enjoyed lunch at De Gilde - oude Burg 17. Filled with locals. (May not be open for dinner).

By the way, on one visit to Bruges, a restaurant on the square was a bit offended when we suggested we wanted a salad for dinner. The waiter kind of shrieked at us. We still make fun of him.
Bitter is offline  
Apr 27th, 2011, 07:09 AM
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FoFoBT, thanks very much. I will research all of these.

My frittes and waffles comment was tongue in cheek, but I am seeking options without the high fat content present in many traditional dishes.

As for mussels, the traditional version is made with cream but I believe there is another made with wine and fresh tomatoes which would be ideal.
kfusto is offline  
Apr 27th, 2011, 07:32 AM
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We had mussels several times in Belgium, and never had them with cream.

In Brussels, we had a very nice meal at Bij den Boer. It's French food, but I believe you could find several lower-fat items there. I had a delicious (Provencal) soupe de poisson, which does not contain cream. And my husband had mussels in white wine.
Lexma90 is offline  
Apr 27th, 2011, 08:40 AM
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You mentioned your distaste for waffles and frites in the thread title and then twice in the OP plus also expressing a desire to avoid Belgian cooking, so I didn't see it as a joke. FWIW, "traditional" Belgian restaurants have much to offer that is not dripping in cream and butter (just as German cooking is much, much more than sausages, pork and potatoes).

At Martin-Pecheur, you can order several of their main courses Montignac style if you really want to keep it light. http://www.montignac.com/en/la_methode_concept.php
FoFoBT is offline  
Apr 27th, 2011, 09:10 AM
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It was not my intent to offend those that enjoy traditional Belgian and French cuisine as well as richer foods; I simply want to find suggested alternatives that reflect my own preferences. And it is correct that I would not order either frittes or waffles which, along with beer and chocolate, are among the most oft mentioned highlights of Belgian specialties.

All suggestions that have been offered are appreciated.
kfusto is offline  
Apr 27th, 2011, 11:10 AM
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I doubt you'll have to seek out "dining alternatives" in either Brussels or Bruges, as there are countless "dining options" in both (though Brussels obviously is more French-based and Bruges more Flemish-based). Personally, I think the Belgians have the finest cuisine(s) of any European country, with immeasurable variety. It's most certainly not all rich or cream-based or buttery. It seems you have been seduced by the stereotypes. I find it hard to believe that you won't come across myriad culinary offerings in both places, without even trying hard, that will go beyond waffles and frites and cream and butter.
StCirq is online now  
Apr 27th, 2011, 11:56 AM
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It seems so and I am pleased to learn otherwise.


Thanks for letting me know.
kfusto is offline  
Apr 27th, 2011, 01:25 PM
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There is a ton of middle-eastern/mediteranean food in Brussels - one street between the central train station and the Grand Place is lined on both sides with places serving gyros, shwarma, and falafel.

The Belgians seem to make an artform out of ham and cheese sandwiches - so simple, yet so good. They make great soups as well. My favorite sandwich was at Le Circe not too far from the Grand Place.

For cheap-eats on the run, there are sub-sandwich places that make good subs for a couple euro. Bagette with fillings.

For more traditional-fare, one meal that I remember very fondly was beef stewed in brown beer (I think it was the Leffe Bruin) with roasted potatoes. So good - and interestingly enough, it was at Le Roy right on the Grand Place. I don't know if that would be too heavy for you, but no butter or cream sauces, so I thought I would mention it.

If you want something sweet - have some pancakes. They are more like crepes than the pancakes we make in the US and often come with strawberries and cream - yum.
november_moon is offline  
Apr 27th, 2011, 02:22 PM
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Thanks, november_moon. I am not a fan of meats in general but I do like some middle eastern and many Mediterranean dishes so some of that will work. I eat mostly fish and seafood and love broth based soups so will be on the lookout for those as well.

The stew sounds like something my husband will definitely enjoy. Thanks for mentioning it.

I do not have a sweet tooth and do not care for crepes nor pancakes - and definitely not with cream. But I am sure the rest of my small group will be delighted with many of the traditional options, not the least being the beer and chocolates.
kfusto is offline  
Apr 27th, 2011, 11:50 PM
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If you don't like 'fat' Belgian food there is quite a selection of Asian restaurants in every city in Belgium: Chinese, Japanese, Thai, ...
MyriamC is offline  
Apr 27th, 2011, 11:53 PM
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@ kfusto: the traditional mussels preparation is absolutely NOT with cream. It's low fat, because the mussels are boiled in water with some veggies tossed in (carrots, celery, onion).
MyriamC is offline  
Apr 28th, 2011, 04:24 AM
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"If you don't like 'fat' Belgian food"

Myriam, that is it exactly what I hope to avoid and yet still be able to enjoy wonderful meals while in Belgium. I have been reading up on Belgian dishes and food preparation and the one consistent comment is that a lot of butter and cream is used in many dishes.

Since I love mussels, I googled the recipe for "moules" before my initial post and most all of the recipes I found called for crème fraîche to finish off the dish. And some also called for sauteeing the veggies in butter. There were a few preparations made without butter and cream so I will note the specific names for those dishes and take the info with me.

I will also learn the words for butter and cream and check with our server before ordering.
kfusto is offline  
Apr 28th, 2011, 05:33 AM
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Moules marinière (depending on the recipe) does not have cream, might have a little butter but they are steamed with white wine, garlic and shallots. Mussels boiled in water does not sound nice.

I've spent alot of time in Belgium and thought the food was very good, better than France in some cases. I would not bother learning the words for butter and cream, esp in Brussels where English is widely spoken. Also it's easy to make the mistake of speaking French when you should be speaking Flemish or v.v. depending on the area you are in.
Odin is offline  
Apr 28th, 2011, 07:49 AM
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Oh my god! Belgium is widely known for having the best cuisine in all of Europe.
KarenE is offline  
Apr 28th, 2011, 11:03 AM
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<>. Odin, you're absolutely right, and I was wrong! They are not boiled in water. They are sauteed in a bit of butter or oil (margarine will do, too) with some veggies, and a pinch of pepper and salt. These are called 'moules marinières' or 'moules nature'. It may be clear that I never prepare mussels ... I really don't like them.

@ kfusto, I think you will have a hard time finding dishes that have (almost) no butter in it. Not every dish needs cream, so that should be easy to avoid. Just ask the waiter/chef what light meals he has to offer.

@ KarenE: I agree!
MyriamC is offline  
Apr 28th, 2011, 12:44 PM
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"I think you will have a hard time finding dishes that have (almost) no butter in it."

I agree and this is why I posted. I don't like butter and it was hard to avoid foods prepared with it in France so I expect the same to be true in Belgium because of the French influence.

As for "Belgium is widely known for having the best cuisine in all of Europe" this may indeed be true if one is a fan of that type of food.

For my tastes, the cuisine of Italy (especially the south and central regions) is the best I have experienced so far in my 28 or so trips to Europe.

I look forward to my visit to Belgium and am certain I will not go hungry.
kfusto is offline  
Apr 28th, 2011, 02:45 PM
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Without a sweet tooth, your dentist must love you
november_moon is offline  
Apr 28th, 2011, 06:00 PM
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Agree that Belgium has by far the best food in europe - and overall probably the best in the world.

Not liking frites and waffles is like coming to NY and saying you don't want to exist on street vendor hot dogs and ice cream cones. Ridiculous. Only a child wold do that.

Belgium has a huge variety of dishes, most of the of the food is not heavily laced with butter or cream - and the traditional dish is mussels in a wine/light tomato broth. You can have chicken, fish and seafood anyplace cooked in any style that you want. Just get a decent menu reader and learn the names of things that you will like and order those. I can;t even give the names of specific places, since we spend only 1 day in Brussels - the rest in other parts of the country - and that day had a superb but upscale dinner in a place recommended by our concierge. Agree that the places around the Grand Place can be trying.
nytraveler is offline  

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