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THE COOLEST CAFES. THE BEST BARS. THE FINEST BEERS.
My secret café: Le Greenwich
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.
No. 363 in The 500 Hidden Secrets of Brussels
Rue des Chartreux 7
My secret bar: Moeder Lambic
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 secret coffee bar: Aksum
We first discovered this cool little coffee bar soon after it opened in the Marolles. The owners decamped last May to a new location in a former bookshop near Grand'Place. We dropped by recently for an early morning shot. The old interior is an intimate place to meet friends and the coffee is still as good as we remember it from the Marolles. The one drawback is that it only has a couple of litle tables outside on the pavement so it is not the perfect spot for a sweltering summer day. But we look forward to squeezing in here on a dark winter afternoon.
No. 132 in The 500 Hidden Secrets of Brussels
Rue des Eperonniers 60
Serious beer drinkers have been aware for some time that Belgian breweries create some of the world's finest beers. But the problem is that the finest beers are often created by little family concerns in remote villages of the Ardennes or monastic orders that shun publicity. So many fine beers remain virtually unknown outside their local catchment area. The people behind the website beertourism.com are hoping to change that by promoting Belgium as a destination for beer drinkers. The site has some general travel information but its main strength lies in its reviews of small and unique breweries and the exceptional beers they create. The site also has some notes on Belgian food although its could look more closely at the Belgian chefs who are experimenting with beer cooking.
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
Rue Franklin 66
02 Pixel »
Here is a cool bar in the normally stuffy Sablon district where you can sit in an interior decorated with padded walls that look like computer pixels.
The terrace has a few deckchairs where you can pretend that you are at the beach (which you would have been, millions of years ago, when this sloping site was a prehistoric beach).
No. 125 in The 500 Hidden Secrets of Brussels
Rue Ernest Allard 39
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.
Rue du Page 2
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.
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No. 151 in The 500 Hidden Secrets of Brussels