Belgian Beer on the Menu
Where, a street off of Grand Place
We went to the historic Toone Theater for a puppet show, and it got out fairly late, after 10 pm. Many of the restaurants were no longer serving food (except for Rue de Boucher, which we had sworn off of since our first dinner in Brussels). We were pretty hungry because this day was one where were ate a lot at breakfast, skipped lunch and went site seeing, and we had not really eaten since 10 am. We walked over to Grand Place, and around a couple feeder streets into Grand Place. I remembered seeing late-night food windows over on one of the streets. All the windows had some sort of fast food Greek or Mediterranean food like gyros, Greek Salads, pita sandwiches etc. At that point, I thought we just needed some calories, and anything would be fine. Matt was not into the fast food gyro vibe, and he wanted to have Belgian beer with every meal we had in Belgium. So our walk continued, and I started getting a bit cranky, and demanding that he just pick a place to eat before they all shut down for the night.
We stumbled upon a cafe/tavern off of one of the feeder streets into Grand Place. I had written down that it was called Bruxelles Cafe, but as I have googled and googled for this pub, tavern, cafe, restaurant, bar, there is no such thing on the internet referencing where we dined on this night. I am at a loss of where we were. We were lucky, as we walked in, I believe we were the last customers that this place served dinner to, as they were getting ready to close the kitchen. This place was open for people to come in to try their beer though, and that made Matt happy.
The options we had for dinner were all Belgian specialties. Matt got the waterzooi (watery mess) which is a chicken, potato, leek, carrot, and cream stew. His stew had a delicate flavor, and I enjoyed sneaking bites from his dish. I opted for the country sausage over mashed potato and leeks. Since it was the end of the night, and it was the last dinner dish sold, the sausage was a bit over cooked, but the mashed potatoes and leeks were delicious and flavorful. I think I need to make mashed potatoes with leeks at home because of the lovely flavor. The deep flavor of my mashed potatoes was a stark contrast to the delicate cream flavor of the waterzooi. These two dishes were hearty for the us, the hungry travelers. The dishes served to us were huge, and just as large as any plate served in a chain restaurant in the USA. We ended up easting about half of our food, and felt bad we had to waste the rest due to no refrigeration in our hotel room. At this point, we were stunned at the large volume of food of each meal served to us. We were thinking that it is a touristy Brussels thing to serve grand volumes of food, but as our trip went on in the non-touristy parts of Brussels and in France, we still got huge volumes of food. How do the French and Europeans stay so thin?
For our beer, Matt's motto was when in Belgium, drink Belgian beer! So, we did. We got set up with a 5 glass tasting of the beer that had on tap. I don't know much about beer, but I think that there was a pale, an amber, a stout, a lambic, and maybe a hefeweizen or a citrus flavored beer. I know little to nothing about beer, so if I got the labels wrong, too bad. The little I do know about beer is that I really liked each one in the line-up. I really liked the one that looked like a hefeweizen (cloudy with some yeast bodies in it), and it had a mild citrus flavor to it too. It could have been brewed with some lemons, but I don't know. It was full flavored and refreshing at the same time. We enjoyed our meal, and we certainly enjoyed the beer too. I just wish I knew the real name of this pub, tavern, cafe.
On the side, about this dining experience, was that we were enjoying our meal and beer, as we chatted in a respectful low volume. All those around us were doing the same, having a late night beer tasting, chatting in a respectful low volume and relaxing after a long week. Then, a group of co-workers from a multinational corporation from Canada, USA, Belgium and the UK came busting into the door. The young woman from the USA was quiet, and spoke in a hush tone, the Canadian did as well. It was the Brits who were loud, obnoxious, and disrespectful. One Brit was speaking so disrespectfully to the waitress, and making claims that he knew everything about Belgian beer and Brussels. He just babbled on and on in bravado. He made some overt innuendos to and about the young American woman about how uncouth, and unworldy she was because she didn't know much about Belgian beer and she did not really drink beer. The Brit took every opportunity to make fun of the American woman. The Brit also took time to say that all the pubs in and around London are by far better than anywhere in Brussels, and then he went on to insult the waitstaff at this cute pub/cafe saying that they were all lazy just like all waitstaff in Belgium. All I know is that our waitress (same one waiting on them) was really kind to us, smiled a lot, and was very helpful to us. What a butt-head Brit. It is possible that if he did not instantly insult the waitress, she might have been inclined to serve his table more. After the Brit arrived in all his bluster, I gave a quick look at the U.S. American woman, and she looked back with a shrug and nod in acknowledgment that she knew the Brit was a butt-head. After 10 - 15 minutes after the Brit et al. arrived, it was so unpleasant to be around that Brit, that we just had to cut our relaxing time short, and get out of there and back into the rainy evening.
NOTE: It was the Brit who was the ugly, disrespectful, loud person, NOT the U.S. Americans. Are swaggerty, loud and obnoxious Brits roaming around Europe being mistaken as Americans, and letting Americans take the rap for being ugly, loud and disrespectful?