Posted on Feb 13, 2020
They say a week is a long time in politics so ten years in the horeca trade must seem like a lifetime. The sector is known for its high staff turnover and, all too sadly in recent times, the high bankruptcy rate of many restaurants.
Good to report, then, that there’s one notable exception to both on the Brussels culinary scene: Park Side Brasserie.
This year, this lovely restaurant overlooking the city’s splendid Cinquantenaire Park celebrates its tenth anniversary.
But 2020 also marks the 10th year since the three-man band behind this success story first took over. The restaurant is co-owned by Christian Vanden Bogaard and Henri Baeyens who both also owe a large debt of gratitude to head chef Donald Loriaux.
The three took over what at the time were offices belonging to the EU’s European External Action Service and totally transformed the building into the tasteful, relaxed place it is today.
Donald, who already an impressive culinary CV to his name, was given total freedom to express his creativity and the partnership has clearly proved a big success because the restaurant has gone from strength to strength over the years.
So much so,in fact, that in 2013 it was awarded a Bib Gourmand for its €39 per person fixed menu. This acknowledges a three course menu as being of “exceptional value for money.”
It consists of a choice of 2 starters (currently either shrimps or fried goat cheese), a choice of 2 mains (currently filet of salmon or Scottish beef) and the same for desert (either caramel or iced parfait).
As the name suggests, this is certainly good value for money and is particularly popular.
Christian and Henri say they are “proud” to have the Michelen Bib label but at the same time say that it reflects the “consistently high standards” set by their head chef and his hard working team in the kitchen.
There is also a €16 per person dish of the day, the choice of which changes every day and might include, for example, rabbit, veal meatballs, duck and haddock.
There is also, of course, a la carte which changes every three months and offers a lovely selection of cold and warm starters, fish (sole, scallops, cod etc); meat and poultry (veal chop, braised lamb, Alsatian sauerkraut, burger etc) as well as a small choice of pasta and risotto.
Among the recommendations is the Irish meat (very succulent) which is delivered fresh every day as are the oysters. If you fancy something a bit different why not plump for the smoked salmon which is smoked in the restaurant itself by Donald.
If you have room,there are some nice deserts such as dame blanche,crepe suzette, rice pudding and Sable Breton.
The wine list is particularly impressive, as is the place where they are housed – perhaps it is best to pay a visit and see this rather unusual feature for yourself!
The comforting décor is the work of Christian who used to run a restaurant at the very top of Brussels’ famous Atomium. Look out too for the exquisite chandelier hanging over the bar at the entrance. This was inspired by a Dutch artist and looks like a huge explosion of champagne bubbles.
Like Christian, Henri also has a rich and varied culinary background, having previously owned another very well known Brussels restaurant, Lola on Place Sablon.
Park Side is spread over two floors and can seat up to 200 people with space on the terrace overlooking the lovely park for another 100. There is also space for private parties for a minimum of 50 people, including at weekends when the restaurant is normally closed to the public.
Being so close to the EU institutions (commission, council et al) this restaurant naturally counts EU staff for a large number of its clients. But its reputation for very good food and service has, like all such places, spread far and wide and people come from outside Brussels, from places like Aalst, to dine here – always a good sign.
There are lots of places to eat in the European Quarter, of course, but this restaurant generally offers a higher class of cuisine than many others in the immediate area.
There can be few also that still boast the same ownership for quite so long and, to mark the tenth anniversary, Christian, Henri and Donald may bring out a special menu later in the year.
But don’t wait until then to try out the food here: it’s too good to wait for!
Park Side Brasserie
Av de la Joyeuse Entrée 24, Brussels
02 238 0808
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