Discover the "land of smiles" - at Brussels resto

The upcoming New Year will be particularly welcomed by most people, with the health pandemic still grimly refusing to go away.

But the start of 2022 will have extra special significance for the owners of one restaurant in Brussels as February marks the tenth anniversary of its opening.

At a time when the coronavirus crisis is still claiming scores of victims on the culinary front – with restaurants either struggling to cope with restrictions such as the Covid safe ticket or closing altogether – the milestone is surely some cause for celebration.

The resto in question is Bois Savanes in Town which has suffered more than most due to coronavirus.

Being situated so close to the EU institutions means that, even though it is now happily fully reopened, it’s still affected by the large number of Eurocrats who are working from home.

That has affected its lunch trade in particular but, happily, things are slowly starting to return to normal.

As co-owner Marie Back explained, the Thai restaurant was closed for a full year which, as she says, “is a long time.”

Apart from having to temporarily cut staff levels, Marie spelled out some of the many other measures that have had to be introduced, both at Bois Savanes in Town, close to Place Jourdan, and its sister restaurant a few kilometres away at St Job.

“We installed at the two restaurants some plexiglas, as it was recommended, and practiced the social distance, so we had to remove a number of tables.

“However, since the Covid safe ticket came in on 15 October we have removed the plexiglass and put the tables back in, almost as before.”

Marie says, “It's important to us that life goes back to the way it was before, so we're complying with the Covid Safe Ticket rules and asking all our customers to do so.

We are not the police, but we want to play by the rules.

“There have been times when we have refused a customer without a valid CST.”

She points out that it is more difficult to enforce the rules for Bois Savanes In Town because it attracts more foreign customers and sometimes the CST of another country is not recognised by the Belgian application.

Bois Savanes In Town has, traditionally, also done lots of catering buffets in the different DGs of the nearby EU institutions but that hasn't re-started yet so, as Marie says, “real life hasn't really started yet.”

Even so, this pleasant little eatery is rightly praised for the quality of its Thai cuisine, which is overseen by the chef, Suchat, who works with Dao, his sous-chef and wife who have worked in the kitchen since it opened back in 2012.

In fact, the resto has become something of a family affair recently because Mot, Dao’s sister, has just started working there as well. She, along with Noom (three years at BS), takes care of front of house matters.

Noom used to work in the kitchen of a Thai chain restaurant in Belgium but says he moved to BS because he wanted more direct contact with the public.

The five staff members here are all, as Noom nicely puts it, “100 percent Thai” and this is reflected in the authenticity of the excellent cuisine produced by Suchat and Dao.

There is a big choice of dishes and all soups and starters can also be ordered as a main course (for just €4 extra).

Customers also have the chance of changing the main ingredient if they wish, another plus, and the menu helpfully indicates, via chilli symbols, which are the spicy dishes.

Genuine Thai products are widely used and one recommended dish has a curious name, “the crying tiger” (steak slices in a spicy sauce) but, in reality, you could try anything here from the 11 starters and 22 mains (plus 3 noodle dishes and 4 salads) and you won’t be disappointed. Look out too for the great value-for-money 4-course lunch menu (€16.50pp), a choice from 3 soups, 2 starters and 3 mains, plus dessert.

With the Thai writing on the wall, this quaint resto, also very popular with locals, is deliciously warm and atmospheric. Considering the top quality the prices are very reasonable, with mains starting from a mere €14.30.

Its counterpart in Saint-Job managed to stay open during lockdown for take-away and Marie says this worked “really well” and every time they were able to reopen both restos (in June 2020 and in June 2021),they have been able to count on their “faithful customers who came back.”

Marie adds, “Life is getting better although it (the crisis) is not over yet. But we keep hoping and are so happy to welcome customers at both our places with a smile.”

That’s quite apt because Thailand is, of course, known as the land of smiles.

Bois Savanes in Town

Rue Froissart 69, Brussels

02 230 3446

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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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