"Dreams" come true at famous old Brussels eatery

For Cédric Callenaere, his post as head chef at one of Brussels’ oldest eateries is something of a dream come true...

He used to frequent “Aux Armes de Bruxelles” as a child with his parents and this is where his dream of becoming a chef was first born.

Little could he have realised back then that, one day, he’d return, not to eat, but as the man in charge of the kitchen and tasked with maintaining his predecessor's high standards.

The same applies to colleague Pascal whose grandmother used to treat him to lunch here when he was a kid. He is now the restaurant's head waiter.

The restaurant was actually founded way back in 1921 by Calixte Veulemans (a bust of him is on display in the restaurant and there’s a beer, cocktail and salad named after him). It soon became known for its gastronomy, counting everyone from the famous Belgian singer Jacques Brel (there’s still a “Brel Table” in the restaurant) and Pierre Brasseur to Toots Thielemans and Charles Aznavour among its clients. For years it really was the place to be seen.

Since the 1970s, the city’s historic l’llot Sacre – Sacred Island – experienced mixed fortunes, though. Everything from the lockdown, triggered by the terrorist atrocity in 2016 to the practices of the “racoleurs”, who used to tout for business outside restaurants, contributed to a steady decline in the area’s image.

That has all changed here, though, largely thanks to the restaurant’s current owner Rudy Vanlancker who is successfully steering this wonderful establishment into a new and exciting chapter in its long history.

He also owns Chez Leon (which celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2018) located opposite and one of the most popular eateries in Brussels.

Among the chef’s specialties, perfectly executed, are mussels and snail mussels, a speciality of the house, sole from the North Sea and poached cod.

The meat choice is equally impressive and just as tasty and includes duck, carre d’agneau, cote de veau and a selection of excellent steaks.

You can round things off – if you still have the room – by making a selection from the fine deserts which include a cheese plate, tarte au sucre, crepe and crème brulee.

There’s a €34 kids’ menu (kids up to 12 eat for free), a 2-course suggestions card changing monthly, plus two fixed-priced menus.

On the drinks list, you will find some great Belgian beers and (as with the food) will be spoilt for choice from the top notch wine selection (the very helpful staff will happily guide you through the choice).

It’s split into two parts: one half, the brasserie-style area, seats up to 46 and is very close to the open kitchen. The other, more formal part,seats up to 50. It has more traditional table dressings and a classic décor notable for opulent curtains, chandeliers and stained glass.

Whichever part you plump for you’ll be pleased.

Aux Armes de Bruxelles

13 Rue des Bouchers, Brussels

02 511 5550


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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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