review

Le bain des dames: Marseilles comes to Brussels

© Saskia Vanderstichele
Onze score

Not ready to leave the summer behind? A place inspired by the food made in fishermen’s huts on the edge of the Mediterranean is resisting the rain and the wind. Le Bain des Dames is full of light.

Places that open the door to little-known culinary worlds are the stuff of dreams. Le Bain des Dames, a new place that is named after a Mediterranean beach known for its view of the port of Marseilles, does just that. We may as well start by saying that, in Brussels, neither the view nor the decor is on a par with the sights of Marseilles. Here, on chaussée de Vleurgat, we are a long way from the sea, although the little blue terrasse brings blue skies to mind. The decor in the long narrow space is free from embellishments. At its heart is a zinc counter that invites you to rest your elbows on it.

As soon as we walked in, we noticed the kitchen that opens onto the space, where two chefs create dishes that will transport you. Are they chefs? Yes and no. There is a definite modesty about the place, which describes itself as a regional snack bar. The menu consists of a board that lists dishes to be shared, which change week by week. When we paid it a visit late one night (11 pm) – places where you can eat well after 10 pm are rare in Brussels – there was a choice of about ten dishes. They were highly reminiscent of the south of France. There were the famous panisses (€5), a speciality made with chickpea flour. The dish was delicious, served in the form of little fried wedges served with garlic mayonnaise. Another more full-flavoured vegetable dish was the red kuri squash (€8) with hazelnuts and a smooth creamy Pecorino sauce. We were also pleased to see that they had “mange-tout” (€5), the delectable fried smelt. There was also a pissaladière (€9): served with rocket and thin slices of cold radish, the tart was beautifully crispy. Last but not least, we have to mention the dish with clams, smoked almonds, and celery sauce (€10), which proved that the two friends in the kitchen are indeed chefs who produce genuinely inventive creations.

As for the drinks, the emphasis is on natural labels, including excellent Spanish wines by Partida Creus, local beers (Cantillon, Nanobrasserie de l’Ermitage, etc.), and rare gems such as a Shiraz brandy in a demijohn made by the exceptional Laurent Cazottes distillery. The service was friendly, provided by a small team who must be thrilled to have made this dream a reality. We will be returning often to get our fix of smiles and light.

LE BAIN DES DAMES
chaussée de Vleurgatsesteenweg 186, Elsene/Ixelles, 02-512.67.26
wo/me/We > zo/di/Su 17 > 1.00

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