Two local brothers have created a microbrewery in a vast 1930s industrial building that was originally a banana warehouse. They brew the beers down in the basement and serve them in a flamboyant ground-floor brasserie decorated with old church furniture, chandeliers and salvaged garden tables. It’s a gorgeous spot to try out some outstanding house beers such as the Helles Lager or Amarillo Pale Ale. But bear in mind that everything is slightly surreal, even the toilets.
When the Greenwich cafe closed for renovation, people grumbled that it would never be the same again. Now it has reopened, we can judge for ourselves. The restoration work was carried out by the Ghent firm Robbrecht & Daem. The old smoke-stained celing has been repainted pale blue and gilt, while the scuffed old wooden furnishings look like new again. But what about the famous toilets in the basement that were considered the most luxurious in town. They have been smartened up considerably. The staff are friendly and the coffee is priced at just €2,50 so, all in all, it seems like we can breathe easily. The only thing you might regret are the chess players who used to frequent the place, but have now moved on to other cafés in the neighbourhood.
How good is the coffee? read about it here
No. 363 in The 500 Hidden Secrets of Brussels
Hidden away behind St Gilles town hall, Moeder Lambic is a dark little bar with a few tables out on the street. It's a friendly, homely place with old beer crates filled with comic strip books to keep kids happy while their parents mull over some rare Gueuze from the Brabant valleys. If upper St Gilles seems too much of a heave, you can find a second branch down on Place Fontainas.
No. 106 in The 500 Hidden Secrets of Brussels
My 3 best
Oh, la, la: La Piola
01 Piola libri
The lovely Piola Libri is just a few steps from the European Commission. Here you can sip a white Italian wine from the Veneto and nibble the bar snacks while an Italian writer reads from their latest book. The back room is one of the most romantic spots we know.
No. 121 in The 500 Hidden Secrets of Brussels
02 Etiquette Wines
This is a friendly, bustling wine bar on Avenue Louise. You can sit inside among racks of wine bottles or outside on a large terrace. The sommelier offers 56 wines by the glass along with plates of pintxo. The fun part is that you load a card with credit and then help yourself from the row of open bottles along the back wall.
03 La Piola
Sister of La Piola Libri, this is a friendly Italian wine bar on the edge of the Place du Châtelain. So on a Wednesday evening, as the glorious weekly market begins to wind down, the place is packed with people sipping crisp white wine and tucking into pasta.
Here is a beer that tastes like nothing else on earth. the first sip is something of a shock because it is so sour, but you eventually get used to it. This is what beer tasted like in the Middle Ages, the owner claims.
No.151 in The 500 Hidden Secrets of Brussels