The image of the Belgian gastronomy we have before coming to Belgium is mussels, waffles and chocolates. The Belgian cuisine, and specially the Brussels cuisine, is very varied.
Brussels is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city with influences from multiple cuisines: from its German, Dutch and French neighbours to Spanish, Italian and Asian influences. Being such a multiracial city is reflected in its cuisine.
You should know that there are more typical and interesting dishes than just mussels with French fries (moules-frites).
TYPICAL DISHES OF BELGIUM
These are some of the most recommendable and best known dishes of the Belgian cuisine.
The Flemish Carbonade: It may be considered to be the main typical dish of Belgium. It is a beef stew with a chocolate and beer sauce, two of the top products of Belgium. It can be cooked in different ways. Depending on the restaurant, it is made with a particular beer (the Chimay, the Grimbergen …). It is accompanied by French fries, baked or mashed potatoes.
Endive gratin with ham and cheese: The endive is one of the most important Belgian vegetables. It is cooked with bechamel sauce and wrapped in cheese and ham. It is gratin cooked in the oven.
Knuckle with mustard: It is typically German but you can find it in most menus of the Belgian restaurants. It is usually cooked with a mustard sauce, accompanied by a baked potato and salad. It can also be prepared with plums, although it is less usual.
Cherry Rabbit: The rabbit cooked with cherry or plum is very well known in Brussels and Belgium. It is usually accompanied by an applesauce.
Waterzooi: A typical Flemish stew, mainly in the Ghent region. It can be cooked either with chicken or with fish. It usually has vegetables such as carrots, leeks, potatoes, eggs and cream. When it is cooked with chicken, it is called kippenwaterzooi.
Sausage with mashed potatoes: It is a mainly typical Brussels dish. The mash is usually accompanied by vegetables, usually carrots.
Mussels: Mussels in Brussels come from the North Sea, about 100km from the city. Cities like Oostende are more typical for mussels than the capital city. You will find them cooked in many different ways, but the best known are cooked with celery and white wine. They are served in a casserole and it is not a starter, it is a main plate. For our liking the above-mentioned dishes are more recommendable than mussels.
NAMES OF MEALS IN FRENCH AND DUTCH
We provide you with the name of all these dishes in the main languages of the country, so that you do not have problems in restaurants.
EN / FR / NL
Flemish Carbonade / Carbonade flamande / stoofvlees
Endive gratin / Chicons gratines / Witloofin of oven
Knuckle with mustard / Jamboneau / Hammetje
Cherry Rabbit / Lapin à la Kriek / Konijn meth Kriek
Belgian Stew / Waterzooi (fish) / Kippenwaterzooi (chicken)
Sausage / Saucisse / Stoemp
Mussels / Moules / Mosselen
There is always a beer next to a Belgian dish. It is normally cheaper than drinking water. Restaurants and bars typically have an average of 40 or 50 types of beer. The most interesting to try during your holidays are the Trappist beers. There are only ten beers in the world that have this title, of which six are Belgian (Chimay, Achel, Orval, Rochefort, Westmalle and Westvleteren). Draught beer is always better than bottled beer.
One of the most popular desserts is the waffle. You can find them in every corner of the city. Belgian confectionery is well known worldwide.
The average dinner or meal with a plate per person, dessert and drink is between 25 € and 30 € per person.
WHERE TO EAT IN BRUSSELS
Near the city centre the best places to eat are Sainte Catherine, Sablon, Saint Géry, and Saint Boniface Square. We do not recommend “rue de bouchers ". The restaurants in that street are very touristy, with a low quality. The best advice for eating well in Brussels is not to go to that street.
You will find the typical dishes in the “bistro” or “brasserie”. You can have dinner there, but you can also have just a beer. In restaurants you can only have lunch or dinner and prices are higher than in “bistro” or “brasserie”.
BELGIUM, A PARADISE OF CULINARY AND GOURMAND TOURISM
The small size of Belgium did not prevent it from being one of Europe's gastronomic powers, with over 120 restaurants bearing the prestigious Michelin Star. Belgian restaurants always have a place in the yearly list of these awards.
Beyond moules-frites, waffles and chocolate, there is a Belgian cuisine that the Michelin Guide 2014 stands out for its return to basics, focusing on the product and taste, with less well known, traditional dishes like Waterzooi (stew with abundant vegetable broth with fish or chicken), the Carbonade Flamande (beef cooked in beer sauce), shrimp or cheese croquettes, endives or asparagus.
Thus, Belgium has become an essential destination for food lovers. The gourmands who enjoy fine dining will find in this country 121 establishments awarded Michelin Stars, 132 in total between Belgium and Luxembourg, a record since the issue of the first Michelin Guide in 1904.
Belgium has three restaurants with three Michelin Stars (one in Bruges), 17 restaurants with two Michelin Stars (one in Antwerp and four in Brussels) and 101 restaurants with a Michelin Star (two in Bruges, three in Ghent, seven in Antwerp and fourteen in Brussels).
Belgian cuisine can be proud of shining for a long time in the sky of Michelin Stars. In 1972 the Brussels restaurant La Villa Lorraine, from Marcel Kreusch, became the first restaurant with three Michelin Stars outside France. However, today it is Flanders which seems to become the new gastronomic paradise at European level.
The previous generation of Brussels chefs has given way to a new Flemish school, in which cooks from the north of Belgium are the new kings, with names like Geert Van Hecke, chef from De Karmeliet restaurant in Bruges.
Here you will find a summary of the winning restaurants in the 2014 Michelin Guide, considering its star rating and location. Although not all are included in this list, it is useful in order to have an idea of these restaurants in cities like Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent and Bruges.
Restaurants with three Michelin Stars
- In Bruges, De Karmeliet
- In Bruges Sint-Michiels, Hertog Jan
- in Kruishoutem, Hof Van Cleve
Restaurants with two Michelin Stars
- In Brussels, Bon-Bon / Comme Chez Toi / Le Chalet de la Foret / Sea Grill Yves Mattage
- In Bruges-Sint-Kruis, De Jonkman
- In Antwerp, 'T Zilte
- In Knokke-Heist, Bartholomeus
Restaurants with a Michelin Star
- Brussels Area, Alexandre / La Truffe Noire / Va Doux Vent / La Villa Lorraine / WY / La Paix / Senza Nome / Le Passage / Kamo / Bruneau / San Daniele
- In Antwerp, Bij Lam & Yin / Dome / L'épicerie du Cirque / 'T Fornuis / Het Gebaar / The Glorious / Kommifoo
- In Bruges, Den Gouden Harynck / Sans Cravate
- In Ghent, Horseele / Jan Van den Bon / Vrijmoed
- In Malines, D'Hoog
- In Hasselt, JER / Vous vous le
BELGIUM RESTAURANTS OPENING HOURS
Lunch in Belgium is between 12:00h and 14:00h. Dining hours are between 20:00 and 21:30h. You should know that from 14:00h at lunchtime and from 21:30h at dinnertime, the kitchen is already closed in many restaurants