review

'Ma Jolie': à la Française

© Saskia Vanderstichele
Onze score

Are you a fan of Paris-style brasseries? Ma Jolie is designed for you. A beautiful place with a terrasse where you can savour the last of the summer.

With the tram wearing through it like the blade of an ice-skate cutting through ice, the Charleroisesteenweg/chaussée de Charleroi is probably not the most idyllic spot in Brussels. Though this busy road is home to a place called Ma Campagne, unfortunately, it doesn’t live up to its promising rustic-sounding name.

It is, therefore, not the most obvious place to open an establishment that can offer a respite from the city’s sound and fury. Charles and Ludivine de Magnanville have, nonetheless, succeeded in doing just that. This French couple had an upmarket brasserie in Paris. Having arrived in Belgium, the duo decided to adapt the formula to Brussels, with a focus on conviviality and simplicity.

The approach is that of a comptoir de quartier (neighbourhood deli) with an intimate, well-designed decor and very pleasant service. Enthusiasts will be delighted by the urban terrasse with its neat rows of bottle-green chairs matching the pretty canvas canopy.

The menu is varied, family-friendly (children are fussed over here) and, in many cases, sourced from local suppliers: organic egg with mayonnaise (€3.50), carpaccio of sea bream with lemon and ginger (€12), cheeseburger (€17), and Thai beef salad (€17).

As a starter, we opted for a delightful confit of aubergine served with mozzarella. Costing just €10, the dish was beautifully decorated with basil, Thai basil, and sun-dried tomatoes. We ate every morsel, the soft, sumptuously creamy aubergine literally melting on the tongue. Our main course was veal Milanese (€19) just like you might eat in Italy, in other words, garnished with thin slivers of parmesan, a half-lemon, tomato quarters, and rocket. As light and cheerful as a summer’s evening.

For the desserts, the duo had the good idea of building contacts in the neighbourhood: excellent pastéis de nata from Forcado (€6) or pistachio Frisco supplied by Nanouk (€5.50), which can be doused in melted chocolate.

Lovers of wine will be blown away to find bottles from producers such as Hervé Villemade, René Mosse, and even Domaine Jolly Ferriol. For everyone else, we recommend you order a cocktail such as their fabulous take on the Negroni.

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