Belgium: Birthday dinner in Antwerp (or...?)
Husband and I are coming to Belgium (from the Washington DC area) for a week in early June, including my birthday. We're going to stay in Brussels, and take day-trips via train to Ghent, Bruges, and Antwerp. (We won't have a car.) Based on what I've read about the different cities,I'm leaning toward Antwerp for my birthday.
I'm looking for something fun/funky/creative. Willing to make this our one splurge meal, but not interested in formal service or dressing up. We'll be doing the tourist thing all day, and while I'll attempt to not look like an Ugly American, I'm going to want to be comfortable. A more student-type place with really good food would be ideal.
I'll eat most anything (not a fan of offal though) and husband is a pescatarian. A good beer list (or even beer-infused cuisine) is a major plus but I get the feeling that won't be too much of an issue. Not really interested in wine.
Any advice appreciated!
Happy birthday first of all, early but valid.
Just an idea. You could eat fabulous luxury lunches in Ghent, Bruges and Antwerp, where the food scene is really happening, and skip Brussels' overpriced mass oriented food industry. That option would give you the best value for money.
In Antwerp check Het Gebaar, a place that does lunch only. You sit in a botanical garden over a century old. Booking very much necessary as Michelin has starred this.
Still in Antwerp, currently the best is Ardent.
A short train or taxi ride to Antwerpen suburb Duffel finds you Nuance, my idea of splurge and birthday treat, if someone else not on student-type budget were paying. Here, your request to get beer paired to the tasting menu will lead to a fabulous result.
In Bruges your choice is unlimited. Refter, for one, but many many other good choices for all budgets. Downgrading to mass tourism is however always a risk in this town.
Ghent is right now booming. Top class local produce is the focal point in restaurants, ranked from low cost upwards, like Volta, J-E-F and Vrijmoed.
Enjoy and report back
Segio Herman of Oud Sluis fame in the Netherlands just opened up a new place in Antwerp called The Jane. No idea if it's good or not, but if it's up to his standards at Oud Sluis it should be very creative and very good; the space looks downright gorgeous anyway. Not sure about beer but it looks like they're putting together a good cocktail program.