1 Perfect brunch Crusty pistolet rolls are Belgium’s answer to Proust’s madeleine, and Pistolet Original gives them the gourmet treatment, with rolls by celebrity baker Yves Guns filled with top-notch local produce. Order the unmisssable Américain steak tartare with cress.
2 Best buffet In a sunny flower-filled room, Line Couvreur’s fantastic home cooking at Les Filles is a hug in culinary form. A selection of starters is delivered to the long refectory tables, then you help yourself to the generous, simple mains such as beef tagliata with a slow-baked comté gratin, and indulgent puddings.
3 Culinary classics Book ahead at diminutive Sablon newcomer Pei & Mei for chef Gautier de Baere’s generous, accomplished riffs on Franco-Belgian classics. The excellent-value set menu features ethereally light tempura shrimp and market fish with silky, buttery mash.
4 Crêpes on the go The picturesque weekend market at Place Flagey is a must-visit, with new trucks and stalls appearing each week. Try a plump, ‘kouign’ pancake from Breton crêpe specialist Ty Penty served with its own salted caramel sauce and sparkling dry cider. (Place Flagey, 00 32 2 478 872 963)
5 Classy bar food The stylish, welcoming new bar from Michelin starred Julien Burlat, Comptoir des Galeries specialises in artisanal charcuterie, natural wines and indulgent bar snacks, from luxe lobster croquettes to homemade black pudding. Perch on a stool and order a handmade brioche bun stuffed with soy-glazed pork belly for a quick, delicious lunch.
6 Smooth cocktails In the vaulted brick cellar of what was formerly the Vatican embassy, Matthieu Chaumont has created Hortense, a cool, speakeasy-style cocktail bar, showcasing his passion for rare spirits. The other woman – sweet vermouth, Peychaud bitters and champagne – is the perfect festive treat.
7 Gourmet chocolates Brussels without chocolate is unthinkable, but bypass the big names and drop into the bustling workshop and tasting room of artisan chocolatier Frédéric Blondeel for a box of his subtly flavoured ganaches. The aromatic lemongrass and chili criollo hot chocolateis the ideal winter warmer, too.
8 Craft cuisine Working out of a beautiful tiled Art Deco former butcher’s shop, La Buvette showcases Nicolas Scheidt’s considerable talent in transforming often-neglected, inexpensive ingredients into something sublime and surprising. Expect a succession of small, beautiful dishes, such as perch with creamed potato and morel sauce, Japanese-influenced slow cooked pork broth, or crab, kohlrabi and shellfish sauce (above).
HOW TO DO IT
Return train fares from London to Brussels from eurostar.com. Stay in the industrial chic, boutique Zoom Hotel where the brilliantly stocked Beer House bar offers beer-chocolate pairings.
Words EMMA BEDDINGTON Photographs HEIKKI VERDURME, IAN DAGNALL/ALAMY, YOANN STOECKEL
TRUST olive Emma Beddington has lived in Brussels for eight years and is Eurostar magazine’s restaurant reviewer in the city.
You might also like
Naples, Italy: Marina O’Loughlin’s best food and drink guide
Manhattan, New York: Marina O’Loughlin’s best food and drink guide
Toulouse, France: Marina O’Loughlin’s best restaurants, food markets and hotels
Marrakech, Morocco: Marina O’Loughlin’s best restaurants and hotels
Queens, New York City: Marina O’Loughlin’s best food and drink guide
Portland, Oregon: Marina O’Loughlin’s food and drink guide
Cork, Ireland: Marina O’Loughlin’s best food, drink and hotel guide
London’s best food markets, chosen by Marina O’Loughlin
Limousin, France: Marina O’Loughlin’s best food, drink and hotel guide
Dublin, Ireland: Marina O’Loughlin’s best food and drink guide