"New kid on the block" forges culinary success out of a crisis

It takes some nerve opening a new restaurant in the middle of the worst health crisis anyone can remember but that is what a couple of Belgian businessmen did – and it has been a great success.

The gastropub Bistro de la Woluwe opened its doors at Place Saint Lambert in Brussels in July, at the height of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

It is the “new kid on the block” in this affluent part of the city, directly overlooking a pleasant and recently renovated, Place Saint-Lambert, in the municipality of the same name in Brussels.

Framed by its two beautiful outdoor terraces - one at the front, on Rue Voot, opens onto the square, and the other, a nice rear garden accessible also by Rue Madyol. It is open every day from 9am to midnight and is a great place to meet up with friends for either just a casual drink (there is a good choice of Belgian draft and artisanal bottled beers while the wine cellar draws from a wide selection of the best French, Belgian, Italian, Spanish and rest of the world wines) or a full-blow meal. From morning to evening, you can enjoy "platters" (cold meats, hams, terrines, cheeses, etc.) and, during meal times, smaller portions of the dishes offered on the restaurant's menu.

The Bistro area accommodates 60 people seated and, from there, you access the lovely restaurant, with its large semi-open kitchen, bright south-facing veranda overlooking the garden and terrace protected by a screen of greenery. Twice 80 covers await gourmets with a high-end brasserie menu and “neo-bistro” cuisine which is deliberately unsophisticated but, rather, favours market and seasonal products.

The current menu features a range of Belgian classics with starters including the perennial favourite, croquettes de crevettes, and other tasty dishes such as carpaccio de filet pur de boeuf, assiette de jambon Serrano and tartare de Thon rouge.

The excellent mains list features pave de boefu, rognons de veau Dijonnaise, vol-au-vent de poule fermiere and filet pur Riban Galicia. There is also a nice choice of fish including daurade, sole meuniere and saumon teriyaki.

The kids are catered for with a small but tempting selection, each dish priced at €16, and there is a nice deserts choice,including tiramisu, dame blanche, assiette de fromage and crème brulee. Considering the quality the prices are very affordable, particularly when you compare them with restos in the centre of the city.

Should you be in the area during the day (and the bistro is located close to a major hospital as well as lots of shops and other commercial businesses), there is also a business lunch priced from €16 to €27.

At this lovely eatery, everything has been thought through to combine quality cuisine and conviviality.

The colours and materials used here were selected by architect Jean-Michel de Haan and the wood and marble give the place a warm Nordic feel.

Two catering professionals are at the helm: Jean-Luc Colin and Philippe Wilbers.

The idea for Bistro de la Woluwe was born out of a meeting and strong desire from the two friends who were already well anchored in the restaurant trade.

At the age of 17, Jean-Luc created the restaurant "Le Chavignol" in Boitsfort before embarking on the representation of wine at Van Beneden and Godart. A professional footballer and model, he never ceased to be attracted to the restaurant business, until he created seven establishments (which he later sold in 2006). In 2012, he bought the “Villance” in Auderghem and more recently the “Petit Pont” in Uccle and “Tissens” in Hoeilaert.

Philippe also has a sporting background (a former hockey player) and was at the origin of the "Tables of Upignac",the "One52" in Woluwe-Saint-Pierre and "Autoworld Brasserie". Passionate about management, he enjoys structuring restaurants, setting up a team before reselling the business to give young people the opportunity to get into the business.

Bistro de la Woluwe opened its doors on 1 July at a time when some restaurants in Brussels were actually closing down, some for good, because of the pandemic.

The two business partners deserve much credit for bucking the trend and, not just that, serving up some terrific cuisine in the process.

Bistro de la Woluwe

Place Saint Lambert, Brussels

02 503 5510

www.bistrowoluwe.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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