A "must visit" eatery at the heart of Brussels tourist trap

The Place Sainte Catherine area of Brussels is full of places to eat but one “must visit” restaurant among them is L’Huitriere, serving some of the best fish dishes to be found in Brussels - and all in a historic setting.

One clue as to the quality is offered directly outside with a particularly large and impressive display of seafood, everything from oysters to clams and shrimps.

The sight is something to behold but the good news is that the food tastes just as good as it looks.

Also outside is a delightful terrace which, with the summer approaching, makes for a particularly enjoyable place from which to enjoy the wonderful cuisine.

The emphasis is, of course, very much on seafood though it is also worth bearing in mind that the a la carte also contains a veggie option and also a small selection of meat dishes – useful if you happen to be dining with someone who does not eat fish.

But, really, this great restaurant is a place to eat fish and that includes the lobsters which are visible from a tank as you enter the restaurant. If lobster’s your thing you can make your choice and the chef will do the rest.

Look out also inside for another, huge tank containing more fish and some fantastic wall art. The first floor can accommodate private groups of up to 80 persons and has a great views over the square. 

If you really fancy pushing the boat out – and/or just have a very big appetite – you may be tempted by wonderfully-named “Rockefeller Imperial Platter” that consists of lobster, crab, two langoustine, oysters, sea snails, winkle, grey shrimp and clams. It will set you back €85 per person but is well worth it and is ideal for that special occasion.

There are, in fact, a long list of oyster dishes with the equivalent for the slightly more modest shrimps and clams.

The main card, which is refreshed from time to time so as to ensure only the most seasonal seafood is offered, has a nice choice of cold and warm starters, all very reasonably priced. These include a duo of croquettes (shrimp and cheese) and scampi in a lovely garlic sauce.

With the asparagus season still upon us (until around mid-June) this perennially popular Belgian dish also features on the menu along with a good selection of mussels from Zeeland.

New additions to the card include swordfish with bearnaise sauce (the swordfish is also served as a kebab with olive oil).

Best sellers are the cod served with grey shrimp and white butter sauce and the sole, pan fried or grilled which comes with chips.

Another customer favourite is the calamari: whole squid grilled and accompanied by lemon and olive oil.

Whatever you opt for, you will not be disappointed. Proof of that comes with a casual look at some of its Trip Advisor comments, such as this recent post: “Great restaurant! I have never been disappointed.I go very often for lunch and  we are super spoiled: starter, main course and dessert with 3 choices every time! I have already sent many friends who were all delighted.”

The lunch, in fact, is a particularly good value option. Priced at a mere €17.90, you have a choice of 4 starters, 4 mains and 4 deserts. Available from Monday to Saturday, it is great value for money and particularly popular with the many people who work nearby.

The restaurant caters for a slightly different clientele at weekends when it tends to be frequented more by the many, many tourists who flock to this part of the city. In the evening, there is a mix of clients, both local and visitors.

This has been a restaurant for many years but the relatively new owners have done a fabulous job breathing new life into what is something of a mini-institution in these parts.

One person who has seen the evolution is Elene, the very friendly restaurant manager who hails from northern Spain but has worked here for 14 years, a relative lifetime in an industry with a notoriously fast staff turnover.

She remains at the heart of the place and the welcoming Elene, along with her hard working team, readily explains the menu and points out that Robin Ghanno, the owner, makes a point of sourcing his fish from the local morning market.

“He’d rather buy small quantities each day so as to ensure that the fish is as fresh as is possible.”

The message is that you will certainly not find any frozen fish at this establishment!

One of the highlights is the fresh seafood platters and oysters.In the summer sitting out on the square enjoying the fresh seafood with a bottle of champagne or wine from the cellar is a special experience and a great way to enjoy an afternoon or evening.

Robin, a hospitality management graduate, has impeccable culinary knowledge and is also very business savvy. Both qualities have contributed to the continued success of Restaurant L’Huitriere.

He and his team deserve much credit for what they are doing in this once slightly rundown part of the city.This is just one of three restaurants on the square Robin owns and each, under his expertise, are proving highly successful.

L’Huitriere

Quai aux Briques 20,Brussels

02 512 0866

http://www.lhuitriere.be

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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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