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Jack's top choice of refined, classy, convivial best and inexpensive restaurant in Brussels: LE PETIT COTTAGE  NEW

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Restaurants recently updated (Feb 2004)

Finally a serious restaurant page about Brussels. No the great, expensive starred names like "Comme chez Soi", "La Truffe noire", "Villa Lorraine", "Bruneau", "L'Ecailler du Palais Royal" and others on that list . You want to taste them? Look them up in the Gault/Millau Belgium or in the Michelin Belgium. 

My favorites are like the favorites in Paris. Good, solid or refined food, for affordable prices but, and that's most important, a typical "Brussels "(Brusseleer) atmosphere, convivial, amusing, with staff and owners serving you as a friend who comes to dinner. Tourists are almost unknown here, a rarity, well treated since they are like a foreign curiosity! But in the very positive way.
I will start today with three of them. I rank them in alphabetical order, and the ones I single out will be quoted especially. 


"
Le Petit Cottage", 150 rue des Cottages tel 023438809 
The opening days and hours have changed. The chef lost his wife in a tragic car accident and he decided to take out more time for this two small children.The restaurant is open every day from 12.00 to 14.00 for lunch (with a lunch menu for 14.90 €)and only from Thursday to Saturday (included) for dinner. Closed on Sunday. Closed lunch on Saturday.
This is already my third update and new visitand it only reconfirmed that i found better then my former favourite "Passage" !! This restaurant outpasses it in everything.  
This IS the rising new star of Brussels. Such a refined, generous, original cuisine must be rewarded.  The Petit Cottage is THE new topper for the Brussels restaurant scene. I will not describe our new meal, but it was even more refined and better as the one below. The style and formula of "surprise menu" stays the same. 
We still sat inside, winter obliges, but still with that intimate and convivial feeling. The house was fully booked, very nicely decorated tables, exquisite arrangements and still that friendly and smiling reception. Owner is Johan Visée and the chief cook Cedric Delsaut. and chef are one and only person and serves himself the whole place (8 tables). Everything is still homemade, like the crispy bread rolls, and besides the carte there is now a triple choice: the menu for 34.90 €, the "surprise menu" (we took already last time), and a large menu for 42.90 €. 
We tried again the "menu surprise" but without the matching wines. We choose a Graves, Pessac Leognan, excellent for 29 Euros!!  Worth every cent! Remember what it is, the surprise menu? Not everybody read my post so here is a reminder: It's a five-course menu: 2 entrées, a sorbet, a main dish and a dessert. Read the carte, all the menus and just tell the chef what item you DON'T like!! (Veal, pork, liver, certain fish, certain herbs, whatever). And he cooks for you a wonderful meal. No liver. Hate veal? No veal? Hate certain herbs? Just tell and you will not find them in your surprise menu. And all dishes are a feast for the eyes!
We started with the gratuitous appetizer, a terrine de homard and terrine de lotte on small toast. The free amuse-gueule!!
Now the serious part comes: served with a Gewurtztraminer 1999, domaine de Rouffac, dry and slightly sweet, a selection of foie gras, faisan and pommes caramélisées, all together. 
Second plat, second wine. A Bergerac blanc, Chateau des Gendres, cuvée Conti, matching the meli-melo de Saint Jacques and a white fish (I forgot the name, sorry), with tuiles de pomme de terre rôties. And crispy vegetables to maker it even more heavenly. Because that is what it was: out of this world. Annie looked at me and said: "I didn't eat such a plat since a long, long time", worth a three star dish.
We rested a little bit, enjoying the sorbet au poires that followed. 
What now? A third wine appears: a red Languedoc wine, a Cabardes, mainly cabernet sauvignon and a little bit Shiraz. Perfect. How this wine travelled to Brussels is a mystery but it tasted as if we sat in Montpellier. And the matching food, honouring the game season, was a filet de biche flambé au calvados, legérement crèmé, poires, airelles, purée and celeri, extraordinary tender and tasty, juicy, with a melange de differents choux. And we eat, enjoy and don't feel a bit heavy or that's enough! On the contrary, there was still room for the QUADRUPLE dessert, a dôme de noix et chocolat Gianduja (praliné), a tartelette créme onctueuse de figue à la cuillére and a tarte aux poires à la glace réglisse. 
If you are in Brussels, or plan to go one of these days, don't hesitate, since my first visit attracted already several people who reacted with enthusiasm.They have Email at [email protected]  

"Le Passage", tel 3746694, avenue Jean et Pierre Carsoel 13 in the Quartier St.Job. 
The best of te best for a ridiculous price. A jewel, real jewel restaurant, quality food and high class gourmet for 35 €.(30 dollars)!!or a world class menu for 45 €. It is rather out of center but well worth a visit if you appreciate good food. Inventivity, skill, genius and artists, that's how I would name Rocky, the name of the cook, who worked at the Villa Lorraine, Comme Chez Soi.
The "Passage" just received a Michelin star!! It was inevitable!
Not to confound with the restaurant du Passage in the centre. 

Le Chalet de la Foret, 83 drève de Lorraine at Uccle (Brussels). tel 02/3745416.
The craftsman of all good things that Belgium, the know how and authenticity, is not only to find in the starred and very expensive restaurants but in places like the Chalet de la Foret. 
The most exceptional gastronomy in this elegant ambiance, I wouldn't leave Brussels without, at least for once, having been to the Chalet 
Those in the know can expect to have all their demands met here where culinary excellence is taken for granted. 
We had a great diner in a menu for about 47,5 €.Flawless service, classy but discreet efficacity.We chose (for 35 €) a Chateau Canuet 1995 (Chateau Margaux)
We started with the amuse bouche crème brulée au parmesan and roulé de saumon fumé au fromage blanc.First plat: pressé de poularde au foie gras, vinaigre balsamique with salade à la crème de dattes. 
Second plat: barbue grillée sur homard aux aromates et huile de homard.
Third plat: canard sauvage aux algues marines et galettes de pommes de terre. 
Then a "crumble" de potimaron, glace au potimaron and to finish a feuilleté de chocolat à la crème d'abricot. 
One of the best meals since a very long time. Worth the "Comme Chez Soi" or other "Ecailler du Palais Royal". But much cheaper!

Senza Nome, 22 rue Royale Sainte-Marie tel 022231617. Closed Saturday for lunch and Sunday
Don't look for pizza here or gross Italian tourist food. Absent, incognito!!
This is AUTHENTIC Italian cuisine, with a special sympathy for Sicilian regional specialties. Try to find such a place outside Sicily? Forget it! Taste the "Branzino all siciliana" (bar fish) and you fall from your chair. This restaurant without a name (Senza Nome) is a relax but extremely well cared off place, like the service. A good advice, browse through the appetizers and entrees: a festival of inventivity! A special mention for the great Italian wine cellar.


En Face de Parachute, 578, chaussée de Waterloo tel 023464741. Closed Sunday and Monday.
Has become one of my favorites after the "Passage". Print out this page and show it to the boss: he will offer you free aperitif and care for you as you were his children. It's completely different style, a genre of bistro, very sympathetic and with that typical Brussels smile, friendliness and conviviality you cannot even find in Paris. Prices are very moderate and the bistro food is classic but outstanding. Fresh and typical Belgian-French good cuisine. Candles, brocante décor and trendy people. The patron, a "bon-vivant" is a great wine specialist and you can have great wines for no price!I tell you a secret: her loves to travel, is a big jazz-amateur and like I said a  wine connoisseur. I would highly recommend it for the cuisine and the typical Brussels warm atmosphere that you will feel in this place. A Jack's recommendation, but lately he dares to use the same "fond de sauce" for a few plats. Reservation are imperative, the place is not very big. And I repeat, if you print out this page and show it to him, he well offer you a free aperitif!

Le Fils de Jules, 37, rue du Page tel 025340057 . Closed Saturday noon and Sunday noon. 
Another of my discoveries. The French Souty-East at its best!!!Excellent restaurant with high-refined cuisine torn between Basque and Landes cuisine, a journey through the paradise of tastes. Unexpected mixtures of salted and sweet, most of the dishes are a discovery. Tartare de thon, magret de canard roti au foie gras (specialty). Fine, original cuisine and an epurated, sober, modern décor. Menus for 36 € included last time ( it was a foie gras festival!): a glass of Jurancon moelleux as aperitif-terrine de foie gras maison compote de figues au Madiran or carpaccio de magret de canard aux copeaux de foie gras-escalope de foie gras poelee facon Eugenie or cassolette de cepes sauvages au foie gras fondant-pot au feu de bar aux palourdes et foie gras or emince de magret de canard au jus de foie gras, cepes and pot au feu (a regal !)And what to say to the delicious "cassolette de chipirons" , la croquette de morue avec un coulis de pimientos.A good bottle of Madiran wine Chateau Montus 93 and your happiness is total!! 

L'Idiot du Village, 19 rue Notre Seigneur tel 025025582. Closed Saturday and Sunday.
In a very intimate, blue and white candles ambience, the "Moron of the Village", presents you a festival of creativity to a public curious for new savors. It's French cuisine but manipulated and revisited to make it a "nouvelle vague ". Foie gras, coquilles Saint-Jacques and salmon. Pigeon ramier aux dattes, tatin de boudin, the carte is a poem and changes every two months. Not inexpensive. Count 65 €. 

De La Vigne a l'Assiette, 51 rue de la Longue Haie, tel 02/6476803, Brussels 1000
You will never guess, and nobody can suspect, that behind this crummy door of this "restaurant de quartier" one of the most promising, the most enthuisiastic tables of Brussels is hiding? The décor doesn't deserve any favourable comments, but the contents of your plate will leave you poet or speechless. We were four people, so we would choose the tartare de legumes et jambon de Serrano, medaillon de bar braise aux croquettes de foie gras tiéde (yummie! a pure delicacy), aubergine grillée aux amandes, the mousse de mascarpone au caramel balsamique, to fly away in happiness!

Les Jardins de Bagatelle, 17 rue du Berger tel 025121276. Closed Saturday noon and Sunday.
Where does a "Brusseleer" take his girl friend or even his wife to show off? To the "Jardins de Bagatelle", off course! There where African cuisine and Thai cuisine doesn't rime with "aie". Magnificent cadre, baroque and Zen at the same time, world cuisine with Tibetan reminders, poulet yassa and a lot of Thai specialties. Friendly welcome. It's normal to meet trendy and cosmopolitan people in this place. Like European and French artists like Youssouf n'Dour, Thierry Lhermitte, Patrick Timsit.

Les Larmes du Tigre, 21 rue Wynants tel 025121877. Closed Saturday for lunch and Tuesday. 
I agree totally with the reputation of this place, being the-best Thai restaurant in Brussels. An original carte with the most diverse plats of Oriental taste, perfumed flavours, and mixing all possible tastes, flawless! Notice that you can have a menu on Sunday for 26 € for lunch and 30 € for dinner. Also a nice buffet giving you a good idea about the variety of its cuisine.
Usual guests are Philippe Noiret, Patrick Bruel, Toots Thielemans.

La Meilleure Jeunesse, 58 rue de l'Aurore, tel 026402394 Closed Saturday for lunch and Sunday for lunch.
The faced looks like a fair stall, but once you enter, décor changes: soft lighting (candles), wooden tables, velvet fauteuils, One minus is the proximity of each table: this is not a place for lovers. But you will keep a good souvenir of the gambas à la Brésilienne and the Louisiana gumbo. You could meet some its usual customers like Axelle Red, Richard Gere, Jean Jacques Goldman (songwriter of Celine Dion), prince Laurent, Dennis Hopper, David Lynch. 


Le Mozart, 541 chaussée d'Alsemberg tel 023440809 Closed Sunday and Monday.
This is the "Mozart's " of the steak houses in Brussels. Until 4 o'clock in the morning, you can order, if you are musician, artist or simple tourist. Very near to Forest national, a mega rock concert hall. The food is good and the décor very heteroclite, with old radios, Cadillac carcasses and gas stations. The place has an undeniable charm. Artists you see regularly: Johnny Hallyday, Philippe Lafontaine, Patrick Bruel, Toots Thielemans.

Le Nautilus, 213 avenue Defré, tel 023758151. Closed Wednesday lunch, Saturday lunch and Sunday.
Dive into that Nautilus just refreshed with a young, new staff. Maritime cadre in wood, ropes, marine frescoes and portholes with wave surfer images and fish swimming inside. The chef proposes a well-prepared bistro cuisine, without pretension bit of quality. I ate a delicious shrimp soup (the small North Sea shrimps, the best tasting in the world!) and a blanc de loubine poele sur lit d'aubergines. It was perfect.


Toucan Brasserie, 1 avenue Louis Lepoutre
Total lifting lately but still that same relaxed atmosphere. Enameled multi colored tables, artwork on the walls, ancient tiles and wainscoting. Very good food, a sort of brasserie food but better. Between the jambonneau roti and the tarte aux pommes, magret de canard gingembre et cassis, mille feuille de thon a la ventreche et fondue de poireaux. 

THE TRENDY place for the moment is the restaurant, cafe, bar "Majestic", rue du Magistrat 33, tel 6391330 a side street of the avenue Louise. Places like this one you'll find only in Paris or Manhattan. A transformed Art Nouveau house, decorated with good taste, smiling and beautiful waitresses, valet parking, average food, and a bill topping about 49 €. You might see Prince Philip there on a secret date, or Gerard Depardieu with his entourage. Jean Claude Van Damme comes when he's in Belgium, so does Catherine Deneuve. On my last dinner I had Barbara Hendrickx as neighbor…..  

For noon, another trendy place is Rest. "Au Vieux St.Martin", place du Grand Sablon, right in the middle of the antique shop area. On his last visit to the NATO headquarters in Brussels, President Clinton had lunch here.

Parisian brasserie style you have Rest."La Quincaillerie",tel 5382553, rue du Page 45 or Rest."Lola",tel 5142460, place du Grand Sablon. A nice, whole cream painted place,  with a large bar where you can dine all by yourself a refined cuisine, well accepted by the trendy people. 
In the heart of old Brussels
This "Lola" restaurant has well deserved gastronomical pretensions,  when it proposes a "faisan gouteux and nice pieces of grilled beef.

And off course the well known and only edible place in and around the touristy Grand Place and rue des Bouchers is "Aux Armes de Bruxelles", 13 rue des Bouchers tel 025115550 Closed Monday.
The only place in this super touristy area where the food is not a tourist trap, although it became more expensive lately. THE place to eat mussels and Belgian fries, waterzooi, lobster and other typical Belgian specialties. Always packed! What's the secret of its' success? Authenticity! No bluffing, quality. Maybe that's why Charles Aznavour, when he performs in Brussels, swears only by this place. 
All other restaurants of the city centre are to avoid. I'm sincere! Make an effort, take a cab or a tram, metro and go to the ones, which follow now. They are worth it. A short notice and WARNING! The Petite rue des Bouchers is very typical and dense in little restaurants but I would give you the advice not to eat in them cause it is hyper touristic! Exception is the Restaurant "Armes de Bruxelles". Avoid Rest.Leon, insignificant.   

Le Bistrot du Mail, 81 rue du Mail, tel 025390697 Brussels 1050
Class, refinement and high cuisine. But you have to pay the price. The cadre is cosy-classic with a warm ambience. A temple of fine savours frequented by the Bruxellois who like good, fresh, authentic and quality food. The cook is in love with its cuisine, that's' a very good sign. Friture d'herbes fraiches, tuiles au parmesan, saint-pierre grille en salade, crème de marrons et huile d'olive….A gourmand dream, you can experince live! Toots Thielemans and Daniel Auteuil are regular customers. Count around 59 € without the wine.