Brussels, Antwerp, & Bruges
Please comment on any of the restaurants (all recommended one way or another) below in terms of quality of food and relative value (particularl for the very expensive spots). Any other recommendations of great places--better than below--would be appreciated. Happy to go out of our way for an excellent meal. We will be in each city for two days, travelling from NYC. Thanks.
Brussels: I't Spinnekopke, Ogenblik, Comme Chez Soi, Vincent, Le Pain, Aux Armes de Bruxelles, Bruneau, Chez Marie, La Maison du Cygone.
Antwerp: Dock's Cafe, De Kleine Zanel, Gin Fish, De Karmeliet.
Bruges: Den Dyver, RockFort.
Probably too late for my two cents, but....I wanted to comment on Brugge. If you haven't been there, it is worth the trip. Gent may be more lively, but it lacks anything that really stands apart from Antwerp or Brussels. Brugge, on the other hand, is full of canals and picturesqe buildings. To eat? I would grab a "broodje" (sandwich -my preference being chicken curry with pineapple) and sit by one of the canals. Save room for chocolate, waffles, fries, and beer!
Just got back from a spell in Bruges. Aside from wandering the town and eating some excellent moules frittes, we very much enjoyed the small "bistro de eetkamer". All the food was very fresh and seasonable (including the most succulent white asparagus that i've tasted) and a nice variety of local meat and fish dishes (a gorgeous fennel cream sauce for the sole my wife had). Reasonably priced (though not cheap) and a few minute walk from the main square, nearby to Den Dyver (which was full when we arrived, allowing us to round the corner and find this gem).
bistro de eetkamer
eekhoutstraat 6 brugge
050 33 78 86
Brussels: Having had wonderful, memorable meals at Belga Queen and Comme Chez Soi, I can happily recommend both.
Antwerp: Another suggestion if you're slightly adventurous: LaMalo for Mediterranean Kosher. Didn't expect much when I went there (it's just off the Keyserlei and was close to my hotel, and I was feeling lazy) but was really happily surprised by just how good it was. Staff are super-friendly, too, and speak (I'm not kidding) about 8 languages ...
Bruges: Ehhh, skip it and go to Ghent instead, more of a lovely/lively city and not an outdoor museum. :) (OK, maybe I'm being too harsh on Bruges. But if you do make it to Ghent, don't miss Karel de Stoute, run by a charming young couple in the old Patershol area. The candied-carrot ravioli with lavender pastry cream is my #1 Dessert of the Year so far...)
What a wonderful trip you have ahead of you...if it's still ahead of you...
Antwerp is my favorite Belgian city--in fact, I loved it so much my first visit I went back to study Dutch there!
I love De kleine Zavel--truly a fabulous experience all around. Rooden Hoed, by the Grote Markt, is also excellent, if a bit more touristy and traditional than De kleine Zavel. For example, de kleine Zavel doesn't serve mussels, whereby Rooden Hoed has a variety of different preparations.
I also like the Horta cafe, Het vermoede Model (possible spelling issue here!) behind the cathedral, and I've heard great things about Neuze Neuze. Don't miss chocolates at Burie, biscuits at Philip's, and waffles at Wafelhuis van Hecke.
In Brussels, these are my top picks:
1. Bonsoir Clara (innovative Belgian-French in St. Catherine)
2. Kasbah (cool Moroccan, sibling of Bonsoir Clara)
3. Belga Queen (for an amazing seafood blow-out in a dramatic space)
4. 't Kelderke (for that wonderful Belgian beer beef stew, Carbonade Flamande/stoofvlees)
Let me know if there's anything else you want to know! I love talking about Belgian restaurants. I could rhapsodize about Belgian food for hours...
I hope it's not too late to post. I haven't been to Aux Armes des Bruxelles in a while, but they really are a standard. The only thing to keep in mind is that we are heading to the end of mussel seasons so they will either be small or not local.
Crevettes grises are in season and are always delicious. Always. It's worth trying them especially as they are so local that they are a truly belgian food.
I'm going to recommend the new restaurant that's opened in the Musee des Beaux Arts. The space is beautiful and the food is wonderful. The restaurant specialises in Belgian food done very well. No moules frites, actually, but all the others: filet Americain (a must!) and a carbonnades of pork cheeks that is very nice, among the others.
Enjoy: One eats well in Belgium!
We went to I't Spinnekopke in Brussels--we loved the area but did not think it was a great meal. In Antwerp we went to Cafe Horta which we liked very much and it is in an interesting area. BTW, we were in all three cities that you mentioned and we were most impressed with Antwrep.
I just reterned from Brussels and Bruges--both fabulous cities with excellent food. Went to La Maison du Cygone for lunch--good, but not great. Aux Armes de Bruxelles is one of my all time favorite restaurants-- try to get one of the tables in the room you walk in to (not the room to the left of the door). Definitely go for beer and snacks at La Morte Subite--wonderful local color. If time permits, do the Art Deco walking tour, ending up at Victor Horta's home, which is a museum. Very interesting. If you are there on a weekend, go to the flea market in the Sablon area. Went to a real local bar right by the flea market called Chez Richard with the most fabulous fois gras, salade frisse and other local specialities. Most of the restaurants by the flea market are real tourist traps, but, this was a real local hangout with fab. food.
You must, must, must go to the Hotel Metropole and sit in the Cafe Metropole. It is from another era full of Fellinni-like characters. My friend and I couldn't get enough of that place--some of the best people watching I've ever seen in my life, and I live in the East Village in New York City!
Have a wonderful trip--you're are in for a real treat!