In Belgium, half the population is French-speaking (called Walloons), while the other half speaks, and is ethnically, Dutch (called Flemish). This unique cultural mash makes for a rich culinary landscape that borrows ingredients and techniques from both northern Europe and France. So, there are a lot of good food in restaurants and hotels around the country. Ok, so the first things that come to mind when thinking of Belgian cuisine are beer, mussels and French fries. Here are six places to eat and drink incredibly well in Belgium.
1. Vismet, Brussels
The top Belgian establishment in our list is Vismet, a seafood restaurant where everything is made in-house by a classically trained Flemish chef. The specialty of the house is croquettes aux crevettes (shrimp croquettes), made with brown shrimp and béchamel. I know what you’re thinking, but Belgian brown shrimp is a delicious local delicacy. The process of peeling the one-inch shrimp is known to be tedious, and each chef has their own techniques when it comes to peeling the stuff (some even ship the stuff all the way to Morocco, where labor is cheaper). But at Vismet, the chef’s mother peels pounds of shrimp a day. It’s that kind of place.
2. Huis De Colvenier, Antwerp
Huis De Colvenier is located in the heart of the heart of lively Antwerp (also locally known as Antwerpen). The food is delicious, the wine is great, the chef is awesome and the beautiful surroundings add to the aesthetic pleasure which makes it our top choice in restaurant Antwerpen. Popular Belgian delicacies such as asparagus, shrimp, sea food etc. are served at all times of the year. There is also a feestzaal Antwerpen for couples looking to organize their wedding.
3. Mer du Nord | Noordzee, Brussels
More of a fish bar than restaurant, Mer du Nord (or Noordzee in Flemish) is one of those places you could only find in Brussels. Noordzee isn’t even really a restaurant but a fish-seller that happens to sell some of the best seafood snacks in the city. Make your order at the bar (there is a whiteboard that lists the day’s catch), choose a table, wait for the server to call out your name and pick up your plate, laid with some of the freshest fish and seafood in the city and sprinkled with Mer du Nord’s house tartare sauce. The best strategy here is to order several smaller plates and share them around – the prawns are to die for, while the kibbeling – deep-fried slices of Atlantic cod – is a signature delicacy you shouldn’t miss out on.
4. Comme Chez Soi, Brussels
Comme Chez Soi is regarded as the best dining venue in the city. It’s hard to disagree – the venue’s sleek, historic interior is a feast for the eyes, its art nouveau curves and mirrors, stained glass panels and ceiling and organic furniture bringing a majestic air to the venue while allowing it to show off its rich heritage. The menu is equally artisanal, with mouth-watering choices such as the gamberi rossi sprinkled with Ishigaki pepper, mint, pine nuts and glasswort, or the wild halibut and Breton lobster with Pondicherry pepper and fennel seeds – both available on Comme Chez Soi’s signature six-course menu. A dinner at this two Michelin-starred restaurant may not be great for the wallet, but it is a cultural experience worth splurging on.
5. L’Agathopède, Namur
L’Agathopède is the restaurant in the Royal Snail Hotel in Namur. L’Agathopède is known, at least in francophone circles, because it is the new home of Chef Carl Gillain, a former Top Chef contestant. Gillain trained under L’Air du Temps master Sang-Hoon and has now struck out on his own. It’s obvious he’s reaching for that shiny Michelin star and I won’t be surprised when he gets it.
6. Caffé al Dente, Brussels
Nestled on a quite road is Caffé al Dente, an Italian restaurant that serves two daily specials (one fish and one meat), a few pastas and a handful of appetizers. You can see all the cooking happen behind the bar, where a hefty Italian nonna (who speaks no English, French or Dutch — just Italian) stirs large pots on a massive antique stove. Her sous-chef is a stocky young man who looks like he arrived from Napoli yesterday. Between the two of them, there’s lots of yelling in Italian, resulting in some of the best Italian food you’ve ever had. The dishes are simple, straightforward and delicious.