My secret bistro:
This downtown bistro in Rue d'Ecuyer sets out to recreate the legendary mood of 1960s Brussels. The kitchen prepares typical Belgian comfort food served with a touch of flair. The beers are interesting craft brews from small breweries. And the loud music is vintage Belgian chanson. Go there on a Thursday to catch an old-style thé dansant or squeeze in on a Friday night for a wild time that could easily end with everyone dancing on the tables.
My secret romantic restaurant:
La Bonne Chère
Hidden down a cobbled lane in the Marolles, this intimate restaurant is one of the best new spots in town to dine out. It’s a relaxed, romantic place in two small rooms with exposed brick walls, candles and velvet curtains. The enthusiastic young team create some stunning dishes such as roast octopus with black pudding, and cheese cake made with Herve. Even the appetisers are miniature works of art.
My secret vegetarian restaurant:
This intimate restaurant on a lively Ixelles square has turned vegetarian cooking into an art form. Chef Joel Rammelsberg offers a single fixed menu that comprises innovative and complex creations based on cabbage, seaweed, nuts and fruit. You can, if you want, add fish or meat as an extra, but it is really not necessary.
My secret Chinese canteen:
Hong Kong Delight
Most people don’t notice this little restaurant in the heart of the Chinatown district. It may look like a simple snack bar, but it serves authentic food. Some of the dishes may be intimidating, like “fried chicken blood,” but you can also order something more familiar like fried noodles with pork. The perfect spot for a cheap bite before a film.
My 3 best
Place du Châtelain
The market on Place du Châtelain every Wednesday afternoon is a place to meet for a glass of wine with friends. As well as stalls selling vegetables and cheese, there are several stands where you can drink a glass of white wine or even Champagne.
Mer du Nord
The Mer du Nord fish shop has a counter on the street where you can pick up a helping of seafood and a glass of white wine. It can get impossibly crowded at lunchtime, but the people who work here remain cheerful.
No. 51 in The 500 Hidden Secrets of Brussels
It nearly vanished in early 2011, but a Facebook campaign saved this popular Ixelles frites stall. The owner had to move to a shiny new stall, but he still produces perfectly-fried frites which he serves in paper cones. It takes time. This is slow fast food. Be prepared to wait in a long line of customers, ranging from mothers with small children to hip Flemish journalists from the TV Brussel studio.
No. 76 in The 500 Hidden Secrets of Brussels