review

'La famille': A respectable family

© Saskia Vanderstichele
Onze score

Brussels has a new multi-faceted café, where you can have breakfast or lunch, or sip an aperitif. Neither model, nor dysfunctional, this family is still a bit rough around the edges.

Since the start of March, Baljuwstraat/rue du Bailli has a new bar/cafe. It’s one of those neighbourhood cafes of the kind we love (like their rival Supra Bailly just across the street). Going against the general trend on rue Simonisstraat towards places that are aimed at a general clientele, La Famille is more bourgeois and bohemian.

For one thing, great care has been taken over the decor. We could tell as soon as we saw the terrace with its attractive furniture in the style of Maison Gatti (the classic wicker chairs you find in Paris). The interior is beautiful. We loved the colours, a mix of white and pretty bottle green. A large wooden counter gives structure to the space. From above, the space is lit by seven globe-shaped lights placed in an arch. Furnished with school chairs, very simple wooden tables, and dark wooden floorboards, it’s a place that might not make you feel at home, but it will certainly make you feel at ease.

Arriving one lunchtime, eager to eat there, we were glad to find there was a vegetarian special for €12. It was quite well balanced, avocado tartare served with roast vegetables and a rocket salad. You could tell that real work had gone into the dish. The avocado was served with sesame seeds, coriander, Chioggia beetroot sticks, and lemon and lime zest. The root vegetables, a combination of carrots and parsnips, were also good. We washed it all down with a freshly made iced tea (€3.50) with a distinct flavour of jasmine. It was served in a pretty pitcher.

A quick glance at the menu revealed that there were only a few beers worth bothering with (Jambe de Bois for €4, for example) in a list made up of the usual mediocre mass-produced brews. As for the cocktails, the Mezcal Sour (€10) is worth a try.

Although La Famille left a fairly good impression, there were a few details, such as a menu that promises more than it delivers (many of the items were unavailable, such as the croque Mathilde and the Pistolet du jour), toilets where you can’t dry your hands, and slow service, that prevented us from getting too excited about it. But then again, they are just getting started.

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