Brussels - Dinner and wasting an afternoon?

Discussion in 'Europe' started by Andy, Feb 9, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Andy
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    Andy Silver Member

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    I'm going to have a spare afternoon and evening in Brussels next week. I'm staying at the Marriott, so I'm "downtown". Any recommendations on any "can't miss" things to do? Also, any suggestions on where to go for dinner? Cuisine = whatever, budget = business expense, but not entertaining clients, so decent, but not something that will have my boss harassing me about it.
     
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  2. kaka
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    kaka Gold Member

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    Walk around grand market. When i was last there i walked into le meridien and asked for a suggestion. I found it slightly above average (seafood platter) but perhaps i had much higher expectation somehow. I dont think i paid over the top either...
     
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  3. AHN
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    AHN Silver Member

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    Go to the town hall, perhaps have a beer in one of the bars on the square. I can't remember the name of any of the restaurants I liked, but they were a bit away from the tourist traps. The seafood was surprisingly good for an inland city.

    And of course, buy some chocolate!
     
  4. RichardInSF
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    RichardInSF Silver Member

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    Go see the little boy pi$$ing too. Have some frites!

    However, Brussels is not really touristically "rich." Me personally, I'd go to the Magritte museum, but then I am a huge Magritte fan.

    Who would have thought an obscenity checker would object to the word "pi$$" these days!

    Let's see what it does to the name of the statue: manneken pis. Hmm,. guess that is OK since it's not in English! Scheist!! OK, let's try districts in Tokyo: shitamachi. Gonna stop now, I am having way too much fun.
     
  5. jpatokal
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    jpatokal Silver Member

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    You must have moules frites (mussels and french fries), the quintessential Belgian dish. Leon's is the biggest name and has outlets everywhere, but Le Pre Sale (Rue de Flandre 20) is better and a little less touristy.
     
  6. sofasurfer
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    sofasurfer Silver Member

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    Place St Catherine has some excellent fish/seafood restaurants that should be within the kind of budget you've outlined. It's been a few years since I've been, and can't recall the place we went to, but I am pretty sure we ended up trusting our instincts after the couple of guide book recommendations were either busy or didn't appeal. IIRC, the standard around there is pretty decent.

    I can still remember the little glass of Crevettes Grises they gave us as an amuse-bouche :)

    If you're at all interested in beer, I'd strongly recommend Musee Cantillon (http://www.cantillon.be/br/3_1) - you can tour, taste and buy some of the most unique beer in the world. It's only about 300m from Gare Du Midi, and a great place to get some presents for friends who are discerning drinkers.
    (if you've not tried it before, gueze/faro/lambic/etc can be an acquired taste, but that's what makes the tasting at the end of the tour worthwhile!)

    My personal favourites: visiting the cartoon museum, having a draft Rodenbach (NOT Grand Gru) at a nondescript little bar, and people-watching. Frites/mayo from a street stand after record shopping (if you're a collector, there are some great places around Bourse - again, memory fails me, but holler if this is of interest and I can try and ask some mates)
     
  7. Lalala
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    Lalala Silver Member

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    Place St. Catherine, rue Antoine dansaert and the area around the canal with its funky design shops, Pierre Marcolini for chocolates.

    I like the Gallerie st. Hubert also, great gallery and some cute shops.
     
  8. mhnadel
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    mhnadel Silver Member

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    The tourist office sells brochures of interesting walking tours. I did a route that featured the comic strip murals that are, in my experience, unique to Brussels. The route took in most of the normal tourist attractions of the lower city as well, so would make for a good couple of hour introduction.
     
  9. jaunders1
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    jaunders1 Silver Member

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    I second the Cantillon brewery tour and a leisurely stroll around the grand place . As far as food, if you want something truly Belgian make sure you try the moules (mussels), frites (french fries were invented here) and waffles.
     
  10. TheMadBrewer
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    TheMadBrewer Silver Member

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    If you want a good "Beer Cuisine" dinner, check out In 't Spinnekopke, 1 Place Jardin Aux Fleurs

    My favorite place to spend an afternoon drinking is Chez Moeder Lambic. Place Fontainas 8 (though if you find yourself in St. Giles their original location at Rue de Savoy 68 is also nice -- but doesn't open until 4pm)
     
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  11. Lalala
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    Lalala Silver Member

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    One more for St. Giles - great neighborhood.
     
  12. Andy
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    Andy Silver Member

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    Thanks to everyone for your input. My hotel was about 2 blocks from the Grand Place, so I ended up meandering the streets in the neighborhood (sorely disappointed that the Manekin Pis didn't have an outfit on). There's a small street just to the north of the Grand Place that Google tells me is called Rue des Bouchers that was lined with restaurants. I couldn't really discern much difference between any of them (everyone seemed to serve Moules), so we opted to look for one with a crowd. We ended up at Chez Leon, which while having a fairly touristy looking menu, I remembered was referenced above in this thread and had read decent things about elsewhere. I'm not really a mussels fan, but I figured I needed to have them while in Brussels, so mine came out coated in garlic and cheese and sauce, which made them more than palatable to me.

    I also managed to sample 4 waffles in the 24 or so hours I was there, and would like to report that Belgaufra was my runaway favorite. None of them were made fresh before my eyes, which was a bit of a downer, but the Belgaufra waffles were still hot and fresh, and had the biggest chunks of pearl sugar in them. Awesome.
     
  13. travelingmore
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    travelingmore Gold Member

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    Thanks and and all - Friends are going to Brussels this spring, first timers, and will be able to use your suggestions - love MP!
     
  14. anng3
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    anng3 Silver Member

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    Loved the waffles. We walked the square and went to the shop that had the longest lines. The waffles were made fresh, topped with homemade icecream and fresh strawberries. Sharing the waffles in the square is one of my favorite memories of Brussels. That and the music museum, walking around with the headphones and having century old instruments start to play just by stepping in front of them. Must add sampling chocolates wasn't too hard to take either.
     
  15. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    Also avenue Louise for old mansions and some good meals
     
  16. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    There are lots of great suggestions here. Unfortunately, many of Belgium's great restaurants are located in the suburbs or out of town. If you want traditional food, do moules and frites of course (many places let you demand as many second helpings of frites as you want), Leon de Bruxelles is indeed a respected and popular chain which is a pretty good value, but also try some local beers (some pubs offer 200 varieties and typically there are separate types of glasses, depending on which you've ordered) and look for traditional Belgian "comfort food" such as chicken or rabbit braised in beer.
     
  17. Lalala
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    Lalala Silver Member

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    And some decent shopping at my friends Cartier and Longchamp
     

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