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Jul 7, 2008 10:23 AM

Restaurants near the Eurostar train station, Brussels Midi?

Hubby & I are trying to decide if we should take a brief (4 hr) layover in Brussels, rather than the super-quick 1 hr layover. Is there anywhere chow-worthy near the train station that would make it worthwhile? Near as in walking distance. Worth it as in we just care about the food not price nor atmosphere as long as the staff are nice.

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  1. Easy answer: no.

    That part of town isn't blessed with an abundance of places you'd care to spend much time.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Kelly

      Kelly, I beg to disagree. It is a more working-class district of Brussels than the historic centre, but it isn't some slum on the outskirts of town, and Bruxellois love to eat. I was taken to a very nice bistro by friends who work very close to the station and live in the district of "Forest" - which has everything from very rundown areas to elegant boulevards within a few streets of one another - where friends live somewhere in-between, quite normal European town area. Alas I was very jet-lagged and tired and didn't think to jot it down. But I'm sure someone familiar with Brussels can find some small, pleasant places.

      1. re: lagatta

        I've lived within a ten-minute bike ride of the Garde du Midi for almost ten years, so I think I'm fairly familiar with the city. :o)

        I just don't think there's anything within walking distance of the train station that I'd make any sort of an effort for. Of course there are little neighbourhood places everywhere (Leonor and the Cafe du Monde near the Parvis de St-Gilles, for example), but the ones I know of near the station are serviceable at best. If the OP wanted to go a bit further afield, I'd have tons of recs for her.

        1. re: Kelly

          And that should, of course, be Gare du Midi, not Garde du Midi. D'oh.

          1. re: Kelly

            Thank you for considering that we may want a showcase restaurant. I appreciate that. For the amount of time we would have there, I was hoping for something more modest. We won't have time to sightsee and I would never presume we could take in such an historic city as Brussels on the quick. Just a little slice of local fare with a nice view would do it. How far would we need to walk to accomplish this far more humble goal? Thanks for the help so far.

            1. re: Googs

              In March I ended up stuck late at night at the Brussels Midi station and ended up getting a room at the Hotel Ibis across the street. Too tired to wander around the neighborhood, we ate dinner at the hotel's restaurant. I forget the restaurant's name, it was nothing spectacular or creative, but it was a good meal and better than any of the train station fast food. I remember having some kind of pasta and my boyfriend ordered some kind of simply prepared steak with frites. It may be worth a try!

              1. re: Googs

                "Showcase" restaurant? Not at all -- I'm just talking about decent restaurants where you won't leave feeling either gravely or twingingly disappointed. Of course, now you've added nice view into the equation, which makes it even trickier! :o)

                But if you want to walk, depending on your speed, I'd say you need to count on a brisk 20-25 minutes to get to any of the closest places I'd recommend.

                For that recommmendation, a lot depends on the day of the week you'd be in town and whether you're talking about lunch or dinner.

                A question: if you're willing to layover for 4 hours, would you not be willing to grab a quick cab from the station? A ten-minute ride would put you within reach of a number of okay places.

              2. re: Kelly

                When I was in Brussels, there was this Morroccan place that we visited a lot. It was within walking distance from the Ibis Hotel. It was cheap, and the service was great... it was perfect for a bunch of students on a study abroad trip. I can't find it on the internet though. Do you know the place I am thinking about? If you know of it, could you tell me the name? I can only tell you that after leaving there, we went to an internet cafe which was only a block away. This wasn't the one on the corner.

          2. Depending on what time of day and day of the week you'll be here, I think you should head for Re-source about three quarters of a mile up the Rue du Midi from the train station. You could walk or, as Kelly suggests, take a very quick cab ride.

            Re-source is one of my favorite places to eat in a city of great eats. The food is modern Belgian/French, beautifully presented, and imo a pretty great deal when you choose one of the set price menus. Tu-Fri at lunchtime (12:00-2:30) they have a three-course 20 Euro fixed price lunch and at dinnertime (Tu-Sat 7:00 pm to 10 pm) they have 40, 53, and 65 Euro menus. I think you can order a la carte as well but I can't seem to find the a la carte menu on their site).

            They often serve a molecular cuisine-style amuse-bouche to begin the meal, but the rest of the food is recognizably food. DH and I had exquisite baby wild boar and venison during the game season, and excellent fish in warmer weather. Oh, and I should mention that their vegetables are always outstanding, which I really appreciate since so many other places, even good places, treat them as an afterthought.


            Oh, and it's a really good-looking place, too--sleek but welcoming decor which should be a pleasant contrast to the horror that is the Gare du Midi!

            Hope you can go.

            12 Replies
            1. re: H. LaRonita

              Re-source is at the top of my to-try list, having just ticked the Le Fourneau box (quite pleased with that one, really).

              I have to say I still don't consider Brussels a city of great eats -- but I'm very willing to be provided ammunition to convince myself otherwise. Any other faves you'd like to share?

              My favourites include:
              Volle Gas
              Chez Vincent
              Le Fils de Jules
              La Creche des Artistes
              Le Fruit Defendu
              Quentin Pain et Vin
              Mamma Roma
              Mont Liban

              Some of them are very good. But no matter the type of restaurant, with the exception of Mont Liban and Mamma Roma, I can get better, for cheaper, in Paris. (There are worse hardships, I know!)

              Looking forward to your thoughts.

              1. re: Kelly

                Wow. I am amazed that I've only heard of a couple of those, because we go out often and are always looking for new places to try. In which commune do you live? We're right in B-1000. Some favorites:

                Bruneau in Ganshoren was wonderful for a special occasion.

                Jaloa, now on Place Ste Catherine
                Le Fourneau (glad you liked that one too!)
                Bistro du Mail, Ixelles

                Viva m'Boma, rue de Flandre
                La Marée, rue de Flandre
                Le Pré Salé, rue de Flandre (for moules-frites)
                In't Spinnekopke, Place due Marché aux Fleurs
                l'Achepot, place Ste Catherine
                Comocomo, rue Antoine Dansaert

                Hong Hoa, near place St Gery
                Fin de Siecle, rue des Chartreux

                Where is Mamma Roma? I haven't really liked any of the Italian places we've tried so far.

                1. re: H. LaRonita

                  We live in 1050, a few blocks from the Place du Chatelain. Am VERY interested to hear you like the Bistro du Mail, as I lived literally around the corner from it for seven years and never went in. Something about it just gave off hostile vibes -- but you say it's worth a try?

                  Mamma Roma actually has three locations - Place Jourdan, Place du Chatelain (Rue du Page) and Place Flagey (Chaussee de Vleurgat). But they do only one thing: pizza al taglio. You can sit at high tables and eat, but it ain't a restaurant, strictement dit! That said, it really is the best pizza I've ever had. I dream of their pumpkin/speck/taleggio, mozzarella di bufala/rocket and spicy cherry tomato pizzas. WELL worth a try. When it comes to "real" restaurants, the three best Italian places I've found are:

                  La Creche des Artistes -- tucked behind the maison communale d'Ixelles near Place Fernand Cocq. There are only about ten tables, so booking is essential. Not to be missed: the zabaglione, which is brought to the table in the copper pot it's been prepared in. Lovely and boozy.

                  La Fin de Siecle -- on Avenue Louise, down by the Bois. Food ranges from good to mediocre, but the cadre itself is charming, and they have a gorgeous garden for the two days a year here we can use it...

                  Da Mimmo - somewhere out in Woluwe. Super expensive, but very nice. I'd only go here if someone else were paying. :o)

                  As far as the other places in my list, with the exception of Yaki (just across from the Chinese supermarket on Rue des Poissoniers) and Vincent, all of the places are in Ixelles. What can I say? I love my neighbourhood and I'm lazy... Let me know if you want the lowdown on any of 'em.

                  1. re: Kelly

                    Thanks so much for the Italian info! Come to think of it I *have* heard La Creche des Artistes recommended before and have been meaning to try it. Your tip pushes it to the top of my list--along with the pizza places. It has been soooo long since I had a good slice of pizza (aside from my husband's home creations).

                    Bistro du Mail is super. I've been 4 or 5 times, DH more often, and each time every single thing has been cooked perfectly. The level of technical skill is really high and quality of ingredients is tops. The style of cooking is modern French/international and the menu changes frequently. Sometimes the wackier ideas haven't been totally successful (at a recent lunch I had chicken on a swathe of sweet potato and carrot puree--tasty, but the presentation pretty much guaranteed that the bottom of the chicken would get soggy). Neverthless, when they are on they are ON. Around Christmas I had a pigeon dish there that was the best I'd ever tasted (well, until I got to go to the Hof van Cleve in February, but that's another story!) Really nice wine list, too. Champagne Ruinart by the glass, yum!

                    I can see where you get the hostile-vibe idea, though. I've never found the greeting there to be warm, even by sometimes-indifferent Belgian standards. They have a very small waitstaff, I think just one man and one woman. The man is perfectly correct but a little frosty sometimes. The woman is friendlier. But especially since you live in the neighborhood, don't let that stop you from giving it a try! They have a great lunch deal, too--I think 20 Euro.

                2. re: Kelly

                  Was just there, ReSource is gone.

                3. re: H. LaRonita

                  That sounds PERFECT! Reasonably priced upscale. Wow. Thank you so much H LaRonita!

                  1. re: Googs

                    Great! I don't know when you're planning to transit Brussels, but I do recommend calling for a reservation, even if just the day before. Do let me know how you like it.

                    1. re: H. LaRonita

                      Thanks for the tip. If we can figure out exactly when we arrive and where to store our luggage, we'll make reservations. I'll definitely make a point of letting you know our thoughts on Resource.

                      1. re: Googs

                        Thanks everybody for a very useful discussion. I'm in the same position as Googs (nearly) as I have a 2-hour stopover between 9:30 and 11:30pm on a Thursday in October before I catch the sleeper to Berlin. AND (Kelly) I will have a bicycle. So, to save me from a Eurostar microwave meal, any suggestions for a modest but enjoyable place where the service is quick enough to fit bike-eat-bike into 2 hours without indigestion? Obviously with that schedule I'm not talking about leisurely fine dining.

                        1. re: chrisrust

                          You might want to hop in a cab and go to Grand Place.
                          Right in the square in a basement is T"Kelderke.
                          The most delicious dover Sole, excellent mussels, and for hubbie on each trip the Pork Hock.
                          Love the atmosphere, and you will get to see the beautiful square.
                          They now have a restaurant upstairs.
                          Don't go there as the menu is limited, and the atmosphere, not.
                          We are in Brussels twice a year, but always have a meal there.

                          1. re: erly

                            hey all, I have a 41/2 hour layover in brussels this wednesday the 3rd of december. I get in at 6:10 and leave at 10:40 am. Is this enough time to hop on the train and stroll through the city? I love architecture so I would be happy to just walk around for a bit? Is this adviseable? I would leave my carry on in a locker. Should I be back an hour before or do I need two hours?
                            Thanks all

                            1. re: travel1281

                              If you're talking about a layover at Zaventem, I doubt a trip to centre town is really practical.