An unambiguous tweet from Jean Quatremer, the French newspaper Liberation’s Brussels correspondent for decades, caused an uproar for several weeks. According to Quatrimer, you can’t get a good meal anywhere in Europe’s capital after 9:30 p.m.
“Brussels looks like tulle in winter.” They will not want to hear this comparison in the French municipality of Corrèze (14 thousand inhabitants). Quatremer claims that you cannot eat properly anywhere in Brussels after 9:30 p.m. Except for the kebab “de la merde,” according to the Frenchman.
Quatrimer explains that his rule did not come overnight Prominence. “For example, many Brussels restaurants indicate on their website that they are open until 10pm. But anyone who walks in half an hour before closing time is always told that the kitchen is already closed because there are not enough customers.
It caused Quatremer several nervous breakdowns. “And this is for the capital of Europe!” His argument sounds more exasperated than the tweet that sparked the discussion.
*Read more below the tweet
Fixed menu and food sharing
Quatremer lived in Brussels for more than thirty years, during which he tried his best to explain Brussels and the Belgians to his readers. As such, his sharp pen is unknown to many French-speaking Brussels residents. Nor for Carlo De Pascal, a well-known foodie in Brussels for many years and a welcome guest on the RTBF consumer programme. On n’est pas des bathroom.
“Quatremer likes to criticize Brussels, and he is right to be frustrated about Brussels’ politics,” De Pascal answers, “but if by his tweet he means that gastronomy in Brussels is inferior to gastronomy in Paris, then he is wrong. There has been a big movement in our city recently. Think of restaurants.” Such as Ivresse, iOda, Raki, Rebel, Flameme, etc.
“But it’s true that after a night out in Brussels, it’s hard to find an open-kitchen restaurant,” says De Pascal. “Many good restaurants operate with a fixed menu or focus on sharing food.” Two concepts that require tight timing from the kitchen. So entering such restaurants late is not an option.
Hungry night owl
So Quatremer is right to some extent. The raw 1980s, when you could still have a sour béarnaise at 2am in the student area of Ixelles, are definitely behind us. De Pascal is nostalgic about one address in particular: Mozart’s in Oakley. The late Remo Gozzi offered late-night tasting menus for hungry night owls or artists who wandered in after a performance. “And at La Canardière, you were eating spaghetti until very late,” recalls the gastronomic historian. “At Tontons in Uccle, my favorite place for a delicious bolognese, you will arrive at 9:30pm latest.”
You should also look carefully in the center for restaurants that open their kitchens after 9:30 p.m. “In the Dansert district, you won’t find a place after 9:30 p.m. at Astaire (8 p.m.), Klein (9:20 p.m.) or Nightshop (8:45 p.m.),” says De Pascal.
Brussels is lagging behind
A difficult search, as journalist and columnist Bruno Vanspowen knows. As a native of Brussels, he has been following our capital’s culinary art for years in the Four Courses section. Standard. “Brussels lags behind other world cities in this regard. There are a number of exceptions, usually bars, but kitchens in Brussels are often only open until 8:30 p.m. “As far as I know, it was no different,” says Vanspowen. in the past”.
How does that happen? “Belgians are accustomed to eating at specific times,” he points out. This is usually not late at night. In addition, widespread evening dining is threatened by the double shifts that more and more restaurants operate. “At Old Boy or Nénu, for example, they work this way,” says De Pascal. You can reserve a table early or late in the evening, which is usually available for two hours. “But you already know that as a customer. This practice is becoming increasingly common in other cities around the world,” Vanspowen adds.
Garçons isn’t complaining
Quatremer and other late-night eaters are worth the effort in our capital. “Going to a restaurant after a night out, a movie or theatre: absolutely impossible in Brussels,” Quatremer stands by his decision.
According to De Pascal, there are actually some addresses in Brussels where dining is pleasant and good after 9:30 p.m. “At CiPiaCe in Sint-Gillis, for example, you can eat delicious Italian food until late.”
“People can book a table with us until 10:45 p.m. and order until 11 p.m.,” says Giorga, the owner. “Many of our customers come to eat with us after a concert or art show.”
At Au Vieux Saint-Martin, you won’t hear the waiters grumble if you order an American filet mignon after 10pm, the better Belgian version of French tartare de boeuf. The kitchen is open continuously from 10am to 11pm, just as at the Niels family’s other catering restaurants: Au Savoy, Au Grand Forestier and Canterbury (the kitchen is open until 10pm).
“Yi Chan has delicious dim sum and is open late,” De Pascale expands the menu further. “Just like La Mirabelle (the kitchen is open until 11 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays until midnight) at the Ixelles Cemetery and Le Variétés on Place Flagey. You can still order there at 10:30 p.m., but at 11:45 p.m., it will be offered You definitely have the bill,” Di Pascal must admit. “Consider it customer service.”
Worry on the fly
This is precisely a thorn in Quatremer’s side. “In Brussels you can’t walk around without any worries, knowing that you can go to any restaurant late at night.” It may be different in Paris, but Carlo De Pascal doesn’t think the comparison is entirely fair. “The French capital has a population of 11 million and you will find a restaurant every ten metres.”
Although they are also closed more often than desired, according to Bruno Vanspoen. “I challenge Quatermer to find a restaurant open in Paris on a Friday or Saturday evening. There are, of course, the bistros and bistros, but the better establishments are usually closed on the weekend.
Should we join Quatremer after all? Brussels has relatively few addresses where you can eat until late. Perhaps this will gradually change under the influence of the melting pot of nationalities in our capital, including southern neighbors who get homesick for a midnight French meal or a steak before going to bed.
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