Were the members of Kool & the Gang thinking about a vanilla and strawberry ice cream cone when they sang, “she's fresh, fresh”? Who knows? But one thing's for sure: when the weather is good, decent ice cream is a must.
Le Framboisier Doré
Yves Deblaere does not go for the hard sell so don't expect him to sing his ice creams' praises to you. This modest man has, however, been working in the profession since 1989. He is said to have invented speculoos ice cream. There is no common base product; each flavour has its own recipe. No flavour enhancers, colourings, gelatine, powders of any kind, or texturisers are used. The result will exceed your wildest expectations. How delicate the vanilla, how perfect the consistency of the chocolate, and how subtle the pistachio, far from the fluorescent green we usually find in these parts. Some of the ice cream and sorbet flavours are a dream come true, such as pine nut, basil, elderberry, cardamom, and tarragon. In total, nearly 230 flavours (€2.40 a scoop) when the place is at full capacity.
Baljuwstraat 35 rue du Bailli, Elsene/Ixelles, 02-647.51.44, www.leframboisierdoré.be, ma/lu/Mo > zo/di/Su 13 > 20.00
The chocolatier Frederic Blondeel set up his establishment in a forgotten corner of the capital. Aside from ganaches (truffles) and “mini bars”, this peaceful joint also offers the opportunity to enjoy quality artisanal ice cream that's made on site. It is a great success, judging by the queue that forms there every time the weather is good. We love the friendly atmosphere generated by the clientele. We would describe Blondeel's style as traditional, since he makes his ice creams with crème anglaise. The flavours are also quite traditional. It will come as no surprise, of course, that the artisan's talent really shines through when it comes to the chocolate ice cream, which is made using cocoa beans. We must also mention the excellent ginger sorbet, a breath of fresh air. A cone with one scoop costs €2.50.
rue de Ganshorenstraat 39, Koekelberg, 0468-31.50.80,
www.frederic-blondeel.be, ma/lu/Mo > do/je/Th 9.30 > 19.00,
vr/ve/Fr & za/sa/Sa 9.30 > 20.30, zo/di/Su 13 > 18.00
A specialist establishment where you can find the best cheeses and cured meats, Saint Octave does not seem, at first glance, like the place to go to find a decent ice cream. Nonetheless, having scoured the most dairy-focused parts of Belgium, Octave Laloux and Tom Flon hit upon an exceptional product: Denis Kairet's frosted treats. This artisan's place in Anthée, Les Lutins, practices an approach with a strong emphasis on locally sourced products. He was awarded the title of best ice cream maker in Belgium (2017). The good news is that these beautifully creamy products are available in Brussels in two areas (Sint-Gillis/Saint-Gilles and the city centre) and in two sizes: 1 litre (from €16) and 125 ml (€3).
Alsembergsesteenweg 54 chaussée d'Alsemberg, Sint-Gillis/Saint-Gilles,
02-268.57.13, di/ma/Tu > vr/ve/Fr 10 > 18.30, za/sa/Sa 10 > 18.00
& Hoogstraat 254 rue Haute, Brussel/Bruxelles, do/je/Th > za/sa/Sa 10 > 18.30, zo/di/Su 11 > 17.00, www.saintoctave.be
Not a big fan of ice cream made the French way (using, paradoxically, crème anglaise as a base)? Your best option is to check out Bargello, a place that is faithful to the Florentine tradition. The result is 100% creamy and full of flavour thanks to a jealously guarded trade secret (first introduced long ago by Catherine de' Medici). That is especially true of some flavours, their combination of organic primary ingredients and Italian produce really hitting the mark; the hazelnuts from Piedmont, the pistachios from Bronte, and the bitter almonds from Sicily. The setting is perfect, with charming decor that combines bare wood, a white counter, and high tables. When it's possible once more to eat on the spot, you must try the espresso, freshly made to the highest Italian standards.
Vrijheidsplein 5 place de la Liberté, Brussel/Bruxelles, 02-345.39.26, www.bargello.eu,ma/lu/Mo > za/sa/Sa 12.30 > 20.00