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Restobières

“Local”, “traditional Belgian” and “beer cuisine” were some of the words flying around in online reviews, prompting me to suggest this “quintessential Brussels” restaurant to a group of friends. We are eight on this Sunday afternoon, and lucky to get a table without booking.

At first we’re charmed by the interior, complete with wooden tables and tiled floors, low ceilings and plenty of vintage knick-knacks. But disappointment sets in early, as we’re blatantly ignored by our server. When he finally does arrive with the menus, it’s clear that he’d rather be somewhere else. And speaking Dutch to our all-Flemish party (myself excluded) does not appear on his list of job requirements.

Ever quick to oblige, my dining companions express their wishes in French: three orders of cow’s tongue, three orders of Flemish stew, one baked sole fillet and one sausage with stoemp, or Brussels’ famous veg-and-potato puree. The menu lists more classic dishes, like choesels, offal stew prepared with lambic beer, kip kap, or headcheese, and bloempanch, a 10cm thick fried blood sausage.

While we’re waiting, some of us drink kriek and geuze, the most appropriate refreshment when in the city of lambic-based brews. We also devour a basket of still-warm, fresh-baked bread smeared with golden butter.

While there are no complaints about the dishes, none are particularly memorable either. One dish contains tender pieces of cow’s tongue covered in a tangy tomato sauce and served with some of the same rather bland leek stoemp that appears on every plate (except for the plain pan-fried sole meunière, which comes with fries).

The best dish appears to be the Flemish stew made with Rodenbach beer. The beef is falling apart in its rich and flavourful, if not too sweet sauce. My dish of juicy sausage with onion sauce and butter-braised witloof is not bad, either.

Where the restaurant excels is its prime location in one of the cosiest cobbled streets in the Marolles district, its old-fashioned interior and authentic Brussels menu and beer list. While that hardly makes up for sub-par food and service, at a mere €19 per person none of us can really complain. Chalk it up to another unexceptional dining experience.

www.restobieres.eu

9 Rue des Renards, Brussels; 02.511.55.83
Daily 12.00-15.00 & 18.45-23.00 (Closed Monday lunchtime)
Mains: €12-24
Charming restaurant serving up typical Brussels specialities that are nothing to write home about

 

This review was originally published in Flanders Today

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