At a time when businesses in the food and hospitality sector are on the look-out for new and more ethical models, Café Winok is leading the way by demonstrating how to be inclusive and sustainable.
Winok loves to take a walk around the neighbourhood. His favourite pastimes include ransacking bins and stealing croissants that are left too close to his nose. But who is this black-furred little rascal? He is the mascot of a new place that opened in Schaarbeek/Schaerbeek on 2 July. The dog in question, who belongs to the proprietor, is a “Schipperke”, a type of miniature Belgian Shepherd, a breed that originated in Brussels. Fortunately, Nicolas Clarebout (36) keeps an eye on him and foils the four-legged scamp's antics most of the time. Clarebout has experience working in fair trade (Ethiquable). During the lockdown, he became inspired to start his own business. He has taken over the former premises of the popular café L'Espérance.
From the moment you enter, a ramp providing wheelchair access lets you know how the place has changed. The thirty-something-year-old has adopted an approach based on inclusivity, locally sourced produce, DIY, ethical values, good taste, and recycling. Recycling? The seats and the counter are made out of the shutters that once hung in the five large windows that light the space, which now contains Scandinavian furniture and pretty marble tables. Outside, there is a lovely terrasse. Local produce? The well thought-out selection of suppliers will inspire locavores, from the ginger kombucha by Smile, available on tap, to the beers from the Brasserie de la Lesse. Those who enjoy a pint will be glad to find that the place has shed its hipster café vibe: you can get a draught pils for €2.20.
DIY? Passionate about coffee, Nicolas Clarebout has been exploring the art of revealing the aromas of coffee, he roasts all the coffees on sale himself. Ethical values? He buys his coffees from This Side Up, a small outfit based in Amsterdam that is committed to paying a fair price to their suppliers all over the world. Good taste? As well as the coffees, which are made with a Dalla Corte machine, Café Winok offers fabulous snacks, including platters, tapas, and sweet treats. On our visit one lunchtime, we enjoyed a delicious soup (€6.50) served with excellent bread. It was a smooth and comforting broth with notes of carrot, butternut squash, and basil. We also very much enjoyed the quiche (€8.50), from Maison Noirhomme in Lambusart, which was made with plenty of spinach and beautifully offset by a delightfully fresh salad containing roast pepper and finely sliced cucumber.
avenue Louis Bertrandlaan 48, Schaarbeek/Schaerbeek, www.cafewinok.be
wo/me/We > vr/ve/Fr 8 > 23.00, za/sa/Sa 9 > 23.00, zo/di/Su 9 > 21.30