Since Christmas 2020 will undoubtedly be unlike any other, let's make the best of the situation by putting together a takeaway meal made up of what Brussels does best.
Fed up of the never-ending smoked salmon? We advise you to go and take a look around Noordzee/Mer du Nord, which offers many alternatives (from €2 to €3 per serving): little jars of smoked eel mousse, mini skewers of curried monkfish, mini shrimp croquettes, etc. Our firm favourite without a doubt is the cubes of tuna marinated in sesame and soy sauce.
If you are not a fan of fish, don't worry; you can make a detour via Dierendonck, which offers a range of boxes of appetisers with plenty of meat (€35). The menu includes New York-style pastrami, duck and pork rillettes, traditional potjevlees, dried coppa, boudin blanc (white pudding) with herbs, etc. You do not want to miss out on the jambon persillé (€24 per kilo). It is, in our opinion, the best in the capital.
When it comes to vegetarian food, there is one place that stands out: Orientalia. Available for collection, it offers small portions of outstanding Asian food that contains no animal protein: falafels, tabbouleh, houmous, salads seasoned with coriander, garlic, and onion confit, and so on. Prices range between €5 and €10 per person.
The best foie gras can be found for €12.50 for 100g at Carné. We recommend accompanying it with tomato chutney (€5.50) and pain d'épices (€3.50 for 120g). A popular place with foodies, Rob has managed to change with the times. The place has proved as much with its dishes created for the festive period, which are available for a reasonable price. The chef Alain Bergen has created a mouth-watering portion of scallops with Belgian endive (€15.50) and a starter that combines chicken and scampi (€15.45).
On the subject of vegetables, although we do not yet know at the time of writing this exactly what the chef Richard Schaffer of the 203 will be cooking up, it is highly advisable to keep an eye on his website. He continues to shine with his creative vegetable-based starters. We can still taste his incredible crunchy polenta with gorgonzola, rocket and pecan pesto, red Belgian endive, and cep powder (€13.90).
MAIN COURSES & COMPLETE MEALS
Hands down, it is the excellent restaurant Humphrey that has had the most original idea for a festive meal. Glen Ramaekers has drawn on his Philippine roots to create a “Kamayan” style selection, in other words to be eaten with your hands, without plates or cutlery. This feast (€55 per person), served on large banana leaves, includes grilled chicken, fish, seafood, pork, sauces made with vinegar, soy, and spices, and, of course, rice with which to soak up the ingredients. It is guaranteed to take you on a journey.
If your tastes are more traditional, head in the direction of La Villa Lorraine, which has three outlets in the south of Brussels. The best news of all is that Mathieu Jacri, the Michelin-star chef, has taken over the kitchen. Known for the sense of harmony he demonstrated at the restaurant Villa Emily, this chef has created a selection of dishes that are creative and light. Take, for example, his beautifully delicate monkfish curry with coconut, spinach, and potatoes (€24).
Why not devote an entire evening to Austrian wines? Brussels is home to an expert on the subject: Kurt Ryslavy. Under the name De Wijn-Le Vin, he offers high-quality wines from a variety of excellent vineyards, such as Schloss Gobelsburg sparkling wine (€23) and an organic pinot noir by Weingut Daniel Bauer-Pöltl (€19).
Another possibility is to choose from the vast European selection, which includes the United Kingdom, Spain, and Belgium, of ciders offered by Joran. The “Condroz Brut” (€13.50), a gem that is aged in an oak barrel, deserves a place at many festive meals. Also available are some delightfully delicate pear ciders, such as those from Herefordshire (Oliver's), and ice ciders whose concentrated flavour will blow your socks off.
If the Christmas cake isn't cutting it any more, fortunately we can count on a wide range of frozen desserts to preserve the tradition. Our favourites, without a doubt, are those made by Capoue, a place that, for more than 70 years, has been offering a large range of artisanal gluten- and lactose-free ice creams. We particularly recommend the salted caramel log, which is to die for (€36 for six people).
You should also check out the bûche (“log”) from Humphrey (€34 for six people), an explosion of flavours that is proving extremely popular during this festive period, made with Don Papa rum, vanilla, pineapple, and passion fruit.
Instead of coffee, why not try something new? Chukwa is an infusion made with cocoa husks procured from bean-to-bar chocolatiers. Sidonie Descheemaeker has created a range that includes four products, each costing €8: Original, Coco, Chili, and Chai. A well-rounded and comforting beverage, it is similar to hot chocolate but much easier to digest.
Looking for other ways to warm up? With a wide range of flavours, tea can accompany many different dishes. You simply have to seek the advice of a specialist. Brussels can count on Olivier Nuttens of L'Heure Bleue, a place that is devoted to both jewellery and chai. A genuine master on the subject, he offers incredible teas from a variety of origins, such as the Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong (€19.50 for 50g) with its heart-warming notes of hazelnut.
NOORDZEE/ MER DU NORD
Sint-Katelijneplein 45 place Sainte-Catherine,
Sint-Katelijnestraat 24 rue Sainte-Catherine, Brussel/Bruxelles,
rue Vanderkinderestraat 409, Ukkel/Uccle,
chaussée de Charleroisesteenweg 277, Elsene/Ixelles,
chaussée de Waterloosesteenweg 1483, Ukkel/Uccle,
Woluwelaan 28 boulevard de la Woluwe,
chaussée de Waterloosesteenweg 203,
Sint-Laurensstraat 36-38 rue Saint-Laurent,
LA VILLA LORAINE
place Dumonplein 8, Sint-Pieters-Woluwe/Woluwe-Saint-Pierre,
chaussée de Waterloosesteenweg 1095, Ukkel/Uccle,
DE WIJN-LE VIN
place Van Hoegaerdeplein 22, Koekelberg (by appointment only),
rue Jacques Jansenstraat 3, Schaarbeek/Schaerbeek,
Various locations, www.capoue.com
Order online, www.chukwa.be
Kunstlaan 12 avenue des Arts,