Flying the flag for the best of Belgium - that's La Belgitude

Brussels’ EU quarter is, as you might expect, somewhere that typifies the diversity of Europe. That extends to the choice of eateries in the area.

But it is also reassuring to know that in this multi-national part of the city there’s still one restaurant that is very much flying the flag for Belgium.

The restaurant is La Belgitude and anyone who appreciates Belgium’s culinary offerings will particularly love it.

Its cuisine has a decidedly Belgian twist, ranging from classics like Belgian cheese croquettes, meat balls (a la Liegeoise), beef stew and vol-au-vent to Belgian-sourced beef and another Belgian tradition, Maatjes, or young herring.

There are a few concessions to other nationalities, such as pasta and a wok dish, but this restaurant prides itself on being very much Belgian first.

Little surprise, maybe, that the best sellers on the menu are the aforementioned Belgian dishes.

The “go local” theme very much extends to the great drinks list which, includes a Belgian gin and – very, very unusually – a Belgian single malt whisky called “Belgian Owl.” There is also a Belgian liquor produced from cuberdon, a cube-shaped Belgian candy and particularly appreciated as an after-meal drink.

La Belgitude is probably the “newest” eatery in the area,having been taken over less than six months ago by Brussels-born Pascal Moonen. It had been an Italian for several years but, when the owner retired, Pascal jumped at the chance of taking it over and turning it into one of the few places in the area that serve mostly Belgian food.

The photos on the walls were replaced with “Belgian ones”, such as a tram, Eddy Merckx and even an old Sabena poster, the staff changed, as did the cuisine.

The prices here, particularly compared with some of the other eateries in this area, are remarkably low. There’s also a very good value for money lunch every day priced just €16.5pp and also a nice kids menu, with three options, priced at a mere €9.50.

The hard working team includes Valerie who happily takes those unfamiliar with Belgian food through the menu, explaining each dish in detail.

The restaurant is closed at weekends (when this area is among the quietest in Brussels) and, with trade also tending to fluctuate in the area, the innovative Pascal has hit on a pleasant way to boost midweek trade: “themed” evenings.

This might include a live music session – look out for a very good jazz band called Charlie Surville who perform here – or an aperitif evening. These are held twice per month, normally on a Thursday and Friday evening and are particularly popular with diners who include people living in the immediate Schuman area.

Look out for an upcoming special when Belgian singer Paulo Rodrigues, who appeared on the Belgian version of The Voice, will perform (July 5).

Pascal himself has an fascinating story: Having started out, at the age of 18, in the horeca trade, he then proceeded to work   for 21 years in the removal business in Brussels (as well as organising car boot sales!) before deciding he’d return to his  “first love”, the world of food.

“I like a challenge,” he says.

He says the idea of focusing on local products has proved a hit and, from September, the plan is to introduce even more Belgian items to the card.

Overseeing the kitchen is another Belgian, Nicolas Tordeurs, who has an equally interesting back story: His 26 years in the hospitality trade has seen him work in Dubai, running three food outlets at a top hotel for six years, and in Johannesburg where he opened a restaurant. Add to that a short stint in Thailand and running his own outside catering business and you can see he’s packed a lot into his 39 years.

Nicolas, who was trained at a hotel school in Belgium, says, “I love cooking Belgian food in particular, not least because it reminds  me of the food my grandmother used to cook. It is tasty and wholesome.”

He could actually be now working in Australia, having been offered restaurant work Down Under. But, being a proud Brusseleirs, he decide stay put and take up a new job at La Belgitude.  And there, surely, cannot be a better testament to the city than that!

La Belgitude  

Michel Angelolaan 85, Brussels

02 736 1870

www.resto-belgitude.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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