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2 nights in Brussels and 2 nights in Brugge (need help)

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My husband and I are spending 2 nights in Brussels followed by 2 nights in Brugge. Our hotels are centrally located in both cities. We will be there the first week of April 2012 and have no idea where to dine. I've looked through our guidebook, but I'm not sure I trust it...

We tend to like restaurants in traditional settings (anything art nouveau or older would be a plus) that serve more traditional food. I love mussels and hope to have at least one meal with a big steaming pot!! Our budget is in the moderate range with room for a splurge or two if the place is a real must.

Any suggestions to keep us out of mediocre restaurants would be appreciated. This will be my husband's first trip to Belgium and I'm almost in the same boat since I've only been on 2 short day trips. We are beer and wine lovers so any suggestions on that would be great as well! Thanks so much :)

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  1. Hi Kitty,

    good choice for chowhounds these two food crazy towns are. In my opinion Brugge offers much better food than Brussels. My advice would be to stay very modest in Brussels, and splurge and shoot Michelin stars in Brugge.

    In Brussels very simple but honest local food is served at Den Boer - www.bijdenboer.com, and Viva m'Boma - no website I fear.

    In Brugge you could look at De Karmeliet - www.dekarmeliet.be, Hertog Jan - www.hertog-jan.com, or De Herborist - www.aubergedeherborist.be. Those last three need booking now, rather than later.

    Sorry to close with sad news. April is not a good month for mussels. I suppose you mean the local mussels from Zeeuws Vlaanderen, Yerseke. Those are seasonal and come to the market from july onwards. There are imported mussels and inferior products sold all year round of course.

    As a general rule in Brussels you will radically avoid anything near Grand Place and the adjacent pedestrian streets.

    5 Replies
    1. re: hblnk

      Hello hblnk,

      Disappointing news on the mussels!! Thanks for the recommendation on Den Boer, the website looks great. The places in Bruges, although look nice, may be too hip / modern for us.

      If anyone has input on the following I'd appreciate it:
      Brussels -
      Nuetnigenough; Brussels Resto; Le Paon Royal; 't Kelderke; Le Varietes; Aux Armes de Bruxelles; Het Warm Water; L'Entree des Artistes

      I saw something on this board about Comme Chez Soi...is it still worth wild to go?

      Bruges -
      Cafedraal; De Gouden Meermin, and Brasserie Erasmus

      1. re: kittylover

        Dear Kittylover,

        of all the Brussels restaurants you mention I do not know the first two. I know the others and I would never advise them. You should, in my opinion which is nothing else than my isolated view, not eat at any of them. They cater to a median tourist clientele. Le Paon Royal is a special case. They have what must be one of the most beautiful outside terraces of the city. Their beers on draft are in top condition. Weather permitting, this could be a very fine moment.

        Comme chez soi is well past its prime. Noble atmosphere and classic dishes, but rather uneven and horrendous bills. You can for that kind of money eat much better elsewhere.

        Enjoy!

        1. re: hblnk

          Hello Hblnk,

          Your feedback has been very helpful, I really appreciate it. I've been doing more research and have a few more places to consider. I would love to know your thoughts :)

          Meal
          La Roue d'Or
          Les Brigittines Aux Marches de la Chapelle
          L'Idiot du Village
          L'Estrille du Vieux

          Drinks
          La Mort Subite

          Thank you!

          1. re: kittylover

            You will have an acceptable meal in any of these restaurants - they are dependable, long established, slightly dull and expensive. They are all in tourist areas and are not really frequented by locals. Les Brigittines is the only one I have ever gone back to, but not recently.

            Better alternatives might be Le Canne en Ville, de la Vigne a l'assiette, chez Marie, Brasserie de la Paix (lunch Monday to Friday, dinner Fridays only and is a difficult reservation) or Le Creche des Artistes (Italian). All are slightly out of the centre but no more than 10 minutes by taxi or a good walk - Brussels is compact. All have been written up elsewhere and are popular with people who live here, so you need to book.

            If you want an alternative to the rather tired Comme Chez Soi, go to Le Chalet de la Foret which also has two Michelin stars and is a far far better restaurant.

            1. re: kerriar

              I could not agree more. Kerriar is spot on.
              A large beer at La Mort Subite is mandatory, of course.

              One last hint maybe: if you were willing to pay the kind of bill that Comme chez soi was going to smack you with, why not consider Nuance in Duffel - www.resto-nuance.be/. You could go there with a hired car, eat the lunch of your life and still have change left.