Thursday, February 11, 2016

Weekend in Brussels: Favourite Places + Foodie Recommendations!


Hi amigos! It's been super cold lately and I've just been stuck at home, as I've fallen ill twice – once with the fever, and now recovering from a cold so I did some exploring through our archives and found that I haven't shared these photos from a weekend getaway to Brussels mid-Summer last year :)

I thought it'd be fun to round-up some of our favourite places and more importantly, food recommendations that I (and Matt, I hoped) absolutely enjoyed during our trip!

I'm no stranger to Brussels, and I just wanted a very quick trip where we could have awesome food but not travel too far - so off we went on the Eurostar...

1. ATTRACTIONS & PLACES OF INTERESTS





We were in the Saint-Gilles area, so very conveniently located to Louise - a major hub for trams and walking distance to the city centre where most of the attractions were! From there you could walk ~15/20 minutes to Grand Place and the surrounding parks/museums, so if you're looking for a quiet area to stay but still relative close to the centre, it's a location to consider.

GALERIES SAINT-HUBERT & GRAND PLACE




Grand Place is indisputably the busiest square in Brussels, with its gold façades coming alive as the sun sets behind it – you can really see how vibrant and ornate these buildings are, restoring it to its former glory days. The square itself houses the famous Flower Carpet festival each year during summer, usually during July and I had a chance to see it while I here last time. When it's not on, it's usually occupied by painters, hoards of Asian tourists and their bags of chocolates, and a fair few museums...

My favourite part of Grand Place is the adjoining Galeries Saint Hubert with the overarching glass ceiling, reminiscent of Parisian galleries, but more subdued and understated.

I liked strolling through and getting out through the other to visit the Tin Tin store, grab a couple of €1 waffles (actually amazing and life-changing, trust me) and pop into the many chocolate stores nearby!

We didn't do it this time as I've already been on my own last time but the Magritte Museum is well worth a visit - students get discounts, and adult prices won't cost you a fortune. You can easily spend 3 hours there marveling at Magritte's mind (ngl I'm a very big fan) and the Fine Art museum which is in the same building...

SQUARE DU PETIT SABLON



On the way back to our apartment, we discovered a small garden – literally opposite Grand Sablon and down the road from the museums so we poked our heads into it. It's a cute little place, with fountains running and benches littered around the small enclave... It's not much to boast in terms of space, but because of its tall hedges and statues that greet you once you make your entrance in, you get the feeling you're visiting a royal's home and have been invited to play croquet there (confession: I have never played croquet before).

And you could make this a quick lunch stop with packed sandwiches on your way to the centre, taking the time to enjoy the greenery yo.




I also really like strolling down Grand Sablon leading up to the Ascensur des Marolles aka another fancy word for a lift, which transports you to a upper level street to the Palais de Justice, and back to Louise. There's heaps of antique shops, art dealers, small cafes and independent shops to look at and a pretty damn picturesque street to take photos of....

MONT DES ARTS 





I left Mont des Arts last, despite it being closest to Grand Place. I remember coming to Brussels the first time on my own and although likely the most clichéd place in the entire city, I enjoyed walking here and seeing the evenings become night and then taking the 52 tram back to my underground apartment :) It's a beautiful space during summer, and we savored the moment by taking the last of the sun in and wandered off to find some dinner...

2. PLACES TO EAT 



If you know me, you know I'm a real food snob. By that I don't mean I need to dine at Michelin starred restaurants – not even close - but I love me a delishus meal, whether its a roadside stall or a cramped restaurant!

Here are our favourites from our weekend, and I really really do recommend them all :)

WAFFLES 

Try the streets down from Grand Place, which serves you the most basic waffle (only icing sugar) to the most elaborate: strawberries, chocolate sauce, whipped cream etc. and eat your heart out! We had a few from there and loved it so much we grabbed some on the day we left just so we can remember it :') we also had one at Galeries Saint-Hubert (picture below!) and it was decent with the ice cream I additionally ordered ;)



SALE PEPE ROSMARINO 

Rue Berckmans 98, 1060 Saint-Gilles, Belgium





Open for lunch and dinner, a cramped but cosy Italian restaurant which was, arguably, my favourite and the highlight of our trip! At first, we were intimidated by the curtains (?? hah) blocking the door but eventually braved ourselves to venture in with my rusty French and sat down, elbows touching the couple next to us on a date night.

To start, I had the artichokes and squid and mains was a delicious prawn and tomato-based linguine! Mmm. We had to ask to waitress to translate the entire menu but her efforts weren't in vain as I finished off the two dishes with glee.

I think they do a seasonal menu, so it changes with fresh ingredients every now and then!

LA PERROQUET 

Rue Watteeu 31, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium




La Perroquet is a pita specialist. Yep you read that right, my friends. Pita bread filled with amazing and wonderful food - chicken, beef, rice, salad... you name it they have it. They had on their menu a curry chicken which Matt absolutely loved and we tried recreating it back home but we wished we were back there every lunch time!

The bar has an art nouveau interior and outdoor seating, vegetarian-friendly and loads of drinks options. This was my second time there and I really enjoyed it. Just be careful with the spillage from the pita...

PIERRE MARCOLINI

Rue des Minimes 1, 1000 Brussel, Belgium



If you're looking for decent and quality chocolate, my favourite chocolate store ever (I know it's a grand claim) is Pierre Marcolini at Grand Sablon. Their flagship store is two-storey high, and you get to feast with your eyes and your mouths... Ask to sample from their hundreds of handmade chocolate delivered fresh to the store each day and buy home the most perfect gifts!

While many people flock to Neuhas, Leonidas, Ladurée or Godiva, I have to say that PM wins the artisanal chocolate crown hands down. Its concoctions are never too sweet, and the dark chocolate is ever so subtle with flavours like earl grey, orange and coffee.

OKAY SO I KNOW I SOUND SO HIGH MAINTENANCE WITH CHOCOLATES (like, omg why can't I just eat Dairy Milk right?) but man try it for yourself and let me know. If you're a fan of good chocolate, then you should definitely head there. Matt is a pure milk chocolate fan so he wasn't too fazed but worth a try eh?

If you want something even more special, PM has a sit-down cafe down the road from its flagship, serving the most delectable éclairs and tarts... We had two to take aboard the train journey home and it was yum yum yum.

COOL BUN

Rue Berckmans 34, 1060 Saint-Gilles, Belgium


I saved the best for last, you lucky biatches.

OK, so... we forgot the camera because we were so hungry but we had the GoPro AND A VIDEO IS MORE IMMERSIVE ANYWAY. Here's a more in-depth experience for you. IF YOU'RE LOOKING FOR THE BEST BURGER OF YOUR LIFE (and I don't even eat burgers usually, FYI) - Cool Bun is your muthaeffin' homie. This is not a joke. Honestly just look at that combination of food items. If there's no tummy screaming in satisfaction by the end of it, then I have failed you miserably.

I realise this recommendation looms largest and grandest but I swear, the free range meat and Belgium frites got me, guys... it was delicious.

So there ya have it - my foodie recommendations! So I know loads of people say Brussels is boring and how it'll never compare to Paris, and while its sights and size aren't comparable, it houses some amazing food places that I haven't seen in Paris, and never within the same price range too...



What are your memorable places to eat anywhere in the world? Leave some interesting places below so I can add it to my ever-growing list! ;)
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