The bustling Place Luxembourg in the heart of the EU Quarter
A food bike selling waffles plus 6 other original places to eat The European Quarter used to be an uninspiring district for new food trends. But now lunch in the EU office hub is beginning to look a lot more interesting, with smart new coffee bars, gourmet food trucks and stylish restaurants opening up in unexpected places. Here are seven places worth a look if you are in the neighbourhood.
LE GRAND CENTRAL
It’s hard to imagine that Place Jean Rey was once a bleak wasteland on the edge of the EU district. The square is now surrounded by smart apartment buildings and eating places that spill out onto the pavement. Start the day in Frederic Nicolay’s cool industrial-style Le Grand Central. The two-floor bar is open from early morning until late at night with a menu of good coffee, organic lunches and Belgian beers.
Overlooking Place Jean Ray, the two-level Living Room adds to the life of the square with its Instagram-friendly industrial interior and spacious pavement terrace. As well as serving coffee and food, they stock design books, stationery and even furniture, so if you think the Danish lamp above your head would fit perfectly in your apartment, you can buy it on the way out.
Here is a new place in town for Japanese ramen fans to try out. Kokuban Schuman is run by the same team as the friendly Kokuban noodle bar off Avenue Louise. The spacious new restaurant on two floors is decorated in the same sober style as the original. The menu features familiar dishes from the Kokuban kitchen such as gyoza and miso ramen. One thing more: it has a pavement terrace for those sunny summer days we occasionally get in Brussels.
Valérie Lepla earned a lot of praise when she set up her stylish modern sandwich shop in the Sablon district. Now she has opened a second branch in a quiet street near Schuman. The interior is a cheerful mix of white walls and red chairs. The sandwiches are made using those traditional round Brussels rolls known as pistolets. The sandwich menu includes some unusual choices like roast beef with horseradish sauce and bloempanch (blood sausage) with sliced apple.
Look out for the organic waffle bike Le Petit Nuage parked near the Place Jean Rey. The friendly owner Yoan has a favourite pitch at the entrance to the Leopold Park. He tempts local office workers and kids with the sweet smell of fried waffle sticks. Check his Facebook page to find out his schedule.
No more Champagne lunches. The people who work in the EU Quarter these days like to go for healthy lunches in cool Nordic interiors. The salad bar Letiuz is just the sort of place they like. You can put together your own delicious salad from a choice of 42 fresh ingredients and 6 dressings.
The acclaimed downtown fishmonger Noordzee/Mer du Nord has opened a small branch near the European Parliament where they serve up fresh seafood. The menu features dishes like croquettes de crevettes, calamars à la plancha and simple fish soup, which you can wash down with a little glass of chilled white wine. It’s a basic place with no seats, so you just have to stand at a wobbly table in the street hoping you don’t spill your wine on the group of Danish lobbyists next to you.