What not to miss in Bennelux region?
Hi - I'm a Philly hound and my husband and I are visiting somed friends in Belguim in early March. We are traveling through Brussels, Brugges, and Antwerp and then will spend the remainder of our trip in Luxembourg. I am so excited for this trip, I plan to eat tons of chocolate and waffles and drink tons of beer :) What else should I make sure to try? We are also looking for suggestions for restaurants with delicous regional food, great service and atmosphere, but moderate prices. Any suggestions? Any other advice while we are there? Also, I know this is not chow related, but I'd also appreciate any advice for must-see/must-do attractions that would fall outside of your typical travel guide. Thanks in advance!
Two words: moules frites. Aside from the chocolate, my strongest Chowy memory of Belgium is a big pot of mussels, a pile of frites, and a big glass of beer in a sidewalk cafe in Antwerp. They're ubiquitous, and so tasty. I'm so jealous of you right now. I also made it a policy to never have two of the same beer - there are just too many to try, and so little time. :)
Hello from Brussels. If you are going to Bruges let me suggest two sidetrips: Ghent a very pretty medieval city that most tours ignore and beyond Brugge (if you're there in spring) spend a weekend on the Coast. Visit the Zwin nature reserve near Knokke (a chique seaside town) and travel up the coast into the Netherlands spend some time in the tiny seaside resort of Cadzand and definitely go to Sluis to eat at Restaurant Oud Sluis (3 stars or top rating in the Michelin guide - you need to book a couple of weeks ahead - a heavenly experience !). Antwerp is a sparkling town booming with innovative restaurants (Hecker, Gin Fish, Le Dôme) and fashion designer boutiques. Don't miss a visit to Pieter Paul Rubens House. In Brussels try the brand new The Dominican Hotel. Best food in town is currently at Le Fourneau (no resersations taken, go early at around 7 pm to get in), Re-Source and Bon-Bon. When in Luxemburg don't stay in Luxemburg City but travel around to little towns like Vianden, Diekirch and Echternach. Nice hotel and restaurant in Gaichel called La Bonne Auberge (also Michelin starred). Enjoy your stay !
Second the recommendation for Ghent. Wonderful city. In Bruges/Brugge, we really liked Rock Fort, which was somewhat out of the tourist center. That was in 2005. Also loved De Garre for beer - smaller list than some other places, but great atmosphere. A little tough to find, in an alley between the two main squares.
Thanks for these great suggestions! I am noting them all. Oddly enough, I also live near Philly and will also be in the Benelux region in March with a group of friends......... weird!
We'll be spending a night in Beersel possibly - can you recommend any place good to eat there? Thanks in advance!
I grew up in the town next to Beersel, and we used to play in the castle in that town -- funny to see that name as a place to visit... It's been too long for me to recommend a restaurant however, sorry for that.
Anyway, that is Lambic / Gueuze country, so make sure to sample the champagne of beers. I thought Saveur did an article on that region, but I couldn't find a reference to it on their website. Have fun!
Will you be driving or taking the great transport available around here?
In the tiny town of Achouffe,BE near Houfalize, they make Achouffe beer, and a nice little dining culture has erupted. It is in the Ardenne region, south of Liege, just off the E25 Highway. You can take a nice walk in the woods, then have a great lunch at any one of the restos in town.
Near the town for Florenville in Belgium, is the Abbey of Orval. They have a small ruins area that is beautiful. The Abbey itself may be open for overnights if you book in advance. Good food and the beer and cheese still produced at the Abbey are served right on the same little road in a resto called The Archangle.
In the twon center of Florenville is Chocolatier Eduard. Nice selection. His hot chocolate with ginger, or red pepper is excellent!!
Also in Luxembourg Ville, Namur is famous for their hot chocolate served with a side of whipped cream. In the walking district.
Let me know if you have more interests
I lived in Belgium, but haven't been back in years, so I'm not good for restaurant recommendations.
Make sure you try the real Belgian waffles, which are completely different than the light dessert type we see here. They have large, yummy carmelized chunks of sugar crystals in them and are found at street vendor carts all over Belgium.
Speaking of street food, I think this is the best way to savor frites alone. Once you've had Belgian frites, you'll wonder why they were ever called French fries here!
Other traditional Belgian dishes to try are waterzooi, a chicken or seafood stew, depending on the region you're in; carbonnade flamande (you can see I lived in the French-speaking part), and of course the ubiquitous moules/frites.
Basically, you can't go wrong with food in Belgium, it's a great foodie place! Enjoy!