Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Europe >
Apr 11, 2007 04:16 PM

Best Brussels Chocolate shop?

Looking for your recs on chocolate shops in Brussels

since we will be there for only 1 day and will probably spend a lot of our limited time there by Grand shot of that area is best for us..........

we are biased towards dark/bitter chocolates.......

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Isn't Pierre Marcolini an obvious choice?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Theobroma

      85% fleur de cacao bar at Pierre Marcolini should do the trick.

    2. You have Leonidas too - don't miss that.

      1 Reply
      1. If you're going to the Sablon area for Pierre Marcolini, don't miss Wittamer, which, along with Marcolini, is a contender for best chocolates, though the advantage to hitting Wittamer is that you can't get it in the U.S. (as far as I know!), whereby Marcolini has a shop in NYC. Leonidas also has shops in the U.S., though in general you should buy as much chocolate in Belgium as you can afford, because even with the dismal exchange rate it's a better deal than getting the same here.
        If you ask Belgians about their favorites, you'll get the range (Neuhaus and Galler are also often mentioned), so especially from our perspective (American, I mean!), you really can't go wrong with any of the big names. Just be careful to go to a boutique in which you handpick your chocolates so you can get the freshest ones, especially the ones filled with fresh cream (which you must eat fairly quickly as they go bad), which you don't find in the pre-packaged boxes.
        If you can't find the Sablon area, go to the Galler store by the Grande Place.
        Have a great time! Brussels is a fabulous and underrated city. Let me know if you need any other food recommendations...

        9 Replies
        1. re: Epicure

          Epicure - thanks for offering

          in fact I do - we plan to be in Brussels for at least a day or twoon our way from Amsterdam to Paris advice on eating B/L/D options would be much appreciated?!!!!

          We are trying to locate a nice place to stay by the Gran Plaz because of our limited time there - so eating suggestions in that area would be best I think!

          1. re: Epicure

            Epicure, I'm not the original poster, but we are going to Brussels & AMsterdam this Sept. I'd love to hear your recommendations and favorite places to eat and chocolate shops that are must-try's (I love milk chocolate). Thanks!

            1. re: synergy

              Few and Synergy, I am totally envious both of you are going to Brussels; it is such a vibrant, exciting, and underrated city that has some of the best food you could find anywhere.
              The Grande Place is not the best place for restaurants--it's actually one of the very few touristy areas of the city, maybe the only significant one--but if you don't mind seeing tourists, you can get some good food. I like 't Kelderke (the cellar) which brews its own beer, has hearty Flemish specialties like Carbonade Flamande (Stoofvlees in Dutch), and a cozy atmosphere. It's loud and lively. You probably won't feel like lingering long.
              I would make a note to avoid the super touristy streets off the Grande Place, most notably the Rue des Bouchers, where huge amounts of seafood are on ice and male staff members of virtually all the restaurants do their best to hustle you in for what looks like gimmicky and overpriced selections.

              The last time I was there, staying in the incredibly lovely Le Dixseptieme, it was just as easy to walk a little more to hit some of my favorite places:

              1. The Belga Queen: soaring dramatic space does not overshadow the dazzling seafood.
              2. Bonsoir Clara: a local favorite with seasonal, innovative French-Belgian cuisine and a very cool, stylish, non-touristy crowd
              3. Kasbah: for a change of pace, a wonderful Moroccan restuarant, related to Bonsoir Clara, in a gorgeous room, also a cool St. Catherine crowd (both places are on the Rue Antoine Dansaert).

              Obviously other people have their favorites that I'm sure are also very good. It's hard to go very wrong.

              For waffles and biscuits, as well as great quiche lunches, go to Dandoy by the Grande Place (across from the Amigo hotel).

              For quick snacks, I like Exki.

              For bread (I always buy some on the last day to take back, so much better than most bread in the U.S.--though living in L.A. I can get bread from Le Pain Quotidien), I love Le Wetterenoise, both locations near the Bourse, kind of midway between the Grande Place and St. Catherine. There's a web site, I believe, if you're interested.

              If you're there on a Saturday around late morning or lunchtime, I'd head to the St. Catherine district (to the square by the church) where you can find stands selling the best oysters you will ever eat at terrific prices (you are standing up, however!) as well as some oyster friendly white wines! It's a fabulous experience, almost entirely tourist free as well.

              Another chocolate tip: go to the Delhaize supermarket (such as the one right across from the Wetterenoise bakery--I'm pretty it's on Boulevard Anspach) and buy Cote D'or and Galler chocolate bars. These make extraordinary gifts, and they're MUCH cheaper than in the U.S. For example, you can find those at Zabar's and this one place in Chelsea Market in NYC, but they're so much more expensive, and you have nowhere near the selection. Synergy, you'll find plenty of wonderful milk chocolate from all the big chocolate names. I don't usually even like milk chocolate, but over there I'm flexible!

              Let me know if you have any other questions! As you can see, I love discussing Belgium! I also highly recommend a visit to Antwerp...

              1. re: Epicure

                Epicure, thanks so much for your reply. And I love the non-touristy places you recommend--I've printed it out to take. We love to walk and would much rather go to restaurants that are filled with locals. If you think of any more restaurants please share!

                1. re: Epicure

                  epicure: vielen dank!

                  I am hoping to find some of these nice spots.......makes me think I should go on Saturday and leave on Sunday instead.....would cutoff my time in Amsterdam tho! <grins>

                  1. re: few

                    Few: bitte schoen!
                    The more time you can get in Brussels, the better. Although I'm sure many would disagree with me, I vastly prefer Brussels to Amsterdam. The food is notably superior at all levels (street food to haute cuisine), not even to mention the absence of scuzzy potsmoking tourists. Brussels just doesn't have so many tourists at all, so when you're at most of these restaurants, you have a much greater feeling of excitement and discovery, if that makes sense.

                  2. re: Epicure

                    Just curoius-- I'm only going to passing through Brussels-- actually just changing flights at BRU-- is there anything in the airport worth getting at breakfast time?

                    1. re: emkay

                      Emkay, don't miss the duty free shop where you can get chocolates galore: Neuhaus, Godiva, Galler, etc. As high as the prices may seem, trust me that it's still a good value compared to the states (where at Neuhaus in NYC, for example, a pound is approximately $64, if I recall correctly).
                      Also, although it may not tempt you so early, you can buy some Belgian ale gift sets at the same store, nice combinations of several bottles and sometimes even a glass or two.

                2. re: Epicure

                  If you area in the area of St Catherine, check out Frederic Blondeel -- not as fancy (or expensive) as Marcolini but I think the chocolates are even better -- and you can have an excellent hot chocolate at a table in the store. I'm in Brussels now trying (without success) to find freshly roasted coffee beans.

                3. We just returned from Brussels with a good deal of Wittamer and Neuhaus chocolates. We would have done the three-way taste test (including Marcolini) but thought we were being a bit greedy - and we're in London and make fairly frequent trips to the continent, so next time. Anyway, we really liked Wittamer (especially the easter egg in a real egg shell which was gorgeous AND yummy), but I personally preferred the Neuhaus as they were a bit more substantial. (Neither compared to a box of chocolates my husband brought back from Antwerp over Christmas from some no-name at the Christmas market - truly sublime). Not a fan of Leonidas.

                  We didn't look for this when we were in Belgium last week, but we also sincerely enjoyed a bottle of Chocolate Genever (gin) from De Klok ( Like Bailey's, but not sickly sweet or processed tasting.

                  As for the Brussels v. Amsterdam debate, I am an Amsterdam fan personally. We've had incredible food and fun in both places, but Amsterdam wins on charm for me. We had another lovely meal at De Kas in March, and a lunch at Brasserie Harkema that beat our expectations for quick and cheap.

                  1. Hi few...hope you read this. I just returned from a week in Belgium yesterday and still have a chocolate hangover! I did not go to Neuhaus, Leonidas, Godiva, Wittamer, or Galler like some of the other posters recommend. Instead, what I did was go to every other chocolate shop near the Grand Place and tasted all of the ones I thought I would like. I really like Marzapan and raspberry covered in white chocolate and only found it at Devina: a small shop off the Grand Place. I also went to Moeder Babulette for my white chocolate covered strawberry and raspberry cream.
                    But I have to be completely honest...I really went to Brugge for most of my chocolate. Surprisingly I find it to be a bit cheaper there and a better selection. Plus, the service seemed more authentic (actually Flemish and friendly) whereas some of the service in Brussels was Asian or unfriendly. This is where I got my delicious truffles (that I am about to finish).
                    As for restaurants, I again disagree with the poster who suggested going away from the tourist area. If you want GREAT food, locals, and a so-so atmosphere, eat at home! If you want to eat while you overlook one of the most beautiful squares in Europe, eat near the Grand Place. Sure, the food is not going to be "great," but it isn't bad either. I ate on the Rue de Bouchers and had Shrimp croquettes and steak in a mushroom cream sauce with fries. It was great! Plus, I got to people-watch, chat up the waiter (from Tunisia), and see the towering town hall in the distance. Was perfect!
                    I would also recommend grabbing a waffle from a street shop for dessert. Very tasty when fresh. And the fries are not to be missed. Very good. Finally, the steak is excellent, but often rarer than Americans are used to....but delicious! And the mussels, obviously, can be good. Still, I ate in or had a drink at no less than 8 establishments in 2 days...So if you have any questions further about restaurants, areas for food, hotel, etc...let me know.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: KatherineDET

                      What's disappointing about this post is its suggestion that it's okay to have food in Brussels that's "not going to be great." Why eat in the most touristy and gimmicky part of the city when you have so many fabulous choices? Rue de Bouchers is a shockingly commercialized eating strip on which you will actually feel hustled by restaurants just walking by. Major guide books, such as Frommer and Fodor, in fact warn tourists away from there, as they highlight the scams and price-gouging frequently experienced by tourists.
                      Even those visitors to Brussels who don't want to venture far away from the Grande Place area will be rewarded by walking just a few steps outside it, to the Place St. Catherine area, for example, which has some fabulous restaurants.
                      No tourist needs to go to Brussels and experience less than terrific food. It's a disservice to such an amazing chowhound paradise to settle for blatant tourist traps.

                      1. re: Epicure

                        Salut Epicure
                        This is briedemeaux...clearly you know your stuff, about Brussels but it's not clear to me if you are here now or elsewhere. I am here a year so far and still exploring. Agree completely with what you say about rue des Bouchers/Grand Place area. Any tips on other parts of the city, aside from Place DSt. Catherine, for good food? I had a terrific dinner at Le Chalet de la Foret but am interested in more of the same, and more casual too...