Brussels eatery takes a tasty bite out of the Big Apple

They say good news travels fast and news about Manhattn’s has spread far and wide – as far as Greece, in fact.

A former colleague, who earlier this year returned to his home in Greece, was spotted among the throng on a recent night out.

“We came over for the weekend,” said Athens-based George, “and, as we’d heard so many good things about Manhattn’s, we decided we had come and discover how good it is for ourselves." 

Suffice to say that George and his partner were not disappointed.

They visited the “branch” at Merode, the third and most recent to open in Brussels. The first to open is located on Av. Louise while the second is close to the Bourse (there’s also one in Antwerp).

The Merode Manhattn’s has eight tables and can seat up to 16 people, with more seating available in a brand new “conservatory-type” space at the entrance.

The new section is heated, a particularly welcome feature with the winter fast approaching.

The Merode restaurant, which opened earlier this year and is a stone’s throw from the EU Quarter, is arguably more cosy than the other two in Brussels and also attracts fewer tourists (notwithstanding people like George, that is!).

It is situated in a busy working area of the city, hence it also does a roaring lunchtime trade. For those unfamiliar with the location, the nearby properties are among the finest in Brussels, one reason there is an “art deco” theme to the restaurant.

There’s some very creative artwork on the walls – with a predominant Manhattan-skyline, of course -  and there are excellent metro/tram links to central Brussels right outside.

This used to be a traditional Belgian brasserie and is right next door to the city’s lovely Parc Cinquantinaire and at the end of the wonderful Avenue Turvueren.

But, of course, it is the food that is the main thing and, here, you will not be disappointed.

The taste, flavour and sheer quality of the burgers that are served - some with very inventive names like Rockefeller, Empire, Gatsby and Brooklyn (remind you of anywhere?) - here are just as superior as the welcome and service.

The prime Angus cattle that is the source for the burgers are grass fed; the chips are very well cooked and tasty (as are the buns) and you really do need to also try the accompanying sauces, including the “secret sauce” (you’ll really have to pay a visit to see how good it is!).

For those yet to discover it, Manhattn’s is a real Belgian success story which started a few, short years ago when Jerome Vandermeulen, a young Belgian, went to New York to work and started selling Belgian waffles and other typical Belgian products in the bustling streets of Manhattan.

For a couple of years he mastered the ins and outs of the New York food truck scene and street life in general.

Jerome returned to his homeland and, with the idea of taking a slice out the Big Apple,he transposed “the entertaining and enchanting New York experience” to Brussels.

In partnership with his brother Phil, who already had extensive culinary track-record in the Belgian restaurant scene, the go ahead Vandermeulens set about realising their dream with Manhattn’s.

On October 22 2014, Manhattn's opened its doors for the first time on Avenue Louise.

This is all about fusing a 'fast casual dining' concept with a desire for quality products. A crucial element is the energetic and lively “American-style” customer service from a team of hard working young staff. At Merode, this includes the very welcoming Esteban Alvarez, aged 28.

Esteban himself has an interesting story to tell. He comes from a tiny village near Charleroi and graduated in management sciences from the University of Namur before being hired at Manhattn’s, his first job.

“I love it to bits,” he says, “not least because Jerome actually listens to his staff and takes on board what we have to say.”

You order at the front counter, take a seat and a small device you’re given will alert you when the food is ready. Great fun! The non-stop kitchen is open 7/7 from 11.30am-10.30pm.

Not long after its launch four years ago the business was shortlisted in the visit.brussels Awards “Best gastronomic concept” that year.

There’s plenty of places to eat burgers but the now-mini network of Manhattn’s are a class above the rest.

Manhattn’s

Avenue de Tervuren 9, Brussels

https://www.manhattns.com

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Martin Banks

Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a highly qualified journalist with many years experience of working within the EU institutions. He is an occasional, and highly valued, contributor to EU today, writing on a wide variety of issues.

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