Making culintary
April 25th, 2017. \\ Dining in Europe.

If you’re looking for a great dining experience in a novel environment you should seek out this terrific place.

It’s partly located in what some years ago used to be a canal barge and, ever since it opened it’s been making waves on the culinary scene.

Given the sheer quality of the wonderful food that should come as no surprise.

However, but for the persistence of its original owner, who overcame fierce local reluctance to locate what is, after all, a shipping vessel in a residential area there would never have been restaurant here.

The main card features a lovely choice of fish and meat,including some perennial favourites like rognons de veau, pigeon and sweetbread and magret de canard. The sole (a house speciality) meuniere is equally mouth watering as is the seasonal asparagus. There’s also a fine selection of hot and cold starters, including curried scampi, and a suggestions menu featuring Irish steak and marinated salmon. Look out also for the Menu de Saison and 2 or 3-course lunch options.

Word about its fine seafood (there’s also a 7/7 takeaway service attached to the restaurant) has spread so far that people from as far away as the Belgian coast come to visit just for the fresh fish.They say it is superior to what they can find at the coast, which is praise indeed.

It is rightly famous for the seafood but if fish is not your thing there are some great and very tasty meat dishes, such as veal kidney, that old Belgian favourite.

Considering the quality,the pricing structure for both food and wine is very reasonable.

The seafaring “theme” is reinforced by the “maritime-type” uniforms of the staff, including that worn by the informative and helpful Christine Hottelet who, like most of her colleagues, have worked here some years.

She’ll happily explain the restaurant’s fascinating history and how the first owner had to cajole the local mayor, scornful of the merits of the idea, to transport a barge from Thuin to Wavre.

Thankfully for diners today, the major eventually relented.

But that was not the only hurdle that had to be overcome. Local roads had to be closed for the day in order to allow such a large and bulky structure to be gently moved into place.

Opened in 1986, the barge (which formerly plied its trade on the Brussels-Charleroi canal) was subsequently lovingly converted into the homely and welcoming (and expanded) restaurant it is today, attracting loyal customers from far and wide.

The staff even joke that if any diners feel “sea sick” sitting at a table on the old barge they are welcome to an alternative table in another part of this lovely restaurant.

After attending catering school in Namur Cedric Leblicq, trained here when he was 19. After leaving to work at other restaurants the very talented Cedric returned and, now aged 34,is the head chef, creating some really delicious offerings.

A sign of its authenticity and quality is that it is frequently busy, hence booking ahead is a good idea.

Passers-by continue to be amazed by the sight of a barge in canal-free Wavre. But pay a visit here and you’ll also be amazed at something else: the quality of the cuisine here too.

La Peniche

Chaussée de Huy, Wavre

010 22 8818

www.lapeniche.be

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Martin Banks is a highly experienced accredited journalist with many years experience of working with the EU institutions. He is an occasional contributor to EU today, writing on a wide variety of issues.

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