All posts filed under “Mid-range

comment 0

Greek delicacies at Ergon, Brussels


Grilled balsamic glazed octopus

Ergon is a very humble-looking Greek deli, but don’t let this fool you. Grab a seat inside the light, loud shop, and you can be served the most impressive delicacies. Their balsamic-glazed grilled octopus with fava bean puré and fried bean balls is a sweet, smoky bliss. If you’re feeling cold and want something densely filling, their beef ragu with orzo pasta and greek cheese is incredibly satisfying – like a rich, silky bolognese with big chunks of steak.

Greek ragu

They also serve a highly recommendable spread of dips, including aubergine tartar, spicy feta paste, squid ink tsatsiki and hummus. You can sample some Greek herbal teas, which are still foraged off cliff slopes around the country. In addition to all the great things above, Ergon is good value for money. I look forward to returning an evening with plentiful time, to sample all their meze snacks.

Dolmas

My friend Jenny who first spotted this place is an Ergon fan because they serve Greek food at its best. With five years in Athens, and a degree in classical archeology and ancient history, I trust her judgment on this, and eat there happily.

Ergon, Rue du Parnasse 1, 1050 Ixelles
comment 0

Healthy elegance at Kitchen 151

Fresh, personable mediterranean meze stop in handy distance from the EU institutions.

Fish kebab

Kitchen 151 serves up mediterranean meze-like dishes and fresh mains with outmost elegance. Their lovely waitor/chef readily tells his guests everything about the menu, and the house wine is sweet and deep. In the almost Scandinavian decoration of the light and wooden-decked restaurant, a Swede feels quite at home. This first time I visited I had their fresh fish kebab with a mild turmeric sauce. Most recently I enjoyed a gorgeous salad with tender asparagus,  grilled sweet cherry tomatoes and courgette, pine nuts, sun-dried tomato and thyme dressing.

Asparagus salad

But the starters are the real stars – you share a few (or many) meze, which comes with fresh Turkish bread and incredibly smooth, almost milky Tahini. Their raita is to die for, the lentil salad fresh and bursting with zingyness and coriander. I like my baba ganoush a bit smokier than their variety, but who cares when everything else is so enjoyable?

Storytelling

Johan telling stories in Kitchen 151

comments 2

Le Chat Touille, Brussels’ cat café

_DSC3498

I “was” a cat as a four-year-old. I made my own little bed where the cats slept, replied to questions with obnoxious cat noises, and pretended to eat cat food when people were looking. Fast-forward 23 years, and thankfully I’ve grown out of that. But many people, like me, have a special relationship with cats. Luckily for us, there are cat cafés – a Taiwanese invention, which is big in Japan (obviously). The basic idea is that you go to a café with some resident cats, have something to eat or drink, and play with the cats.

_DSC3491

Agneta with Leon.

Le Chat Touille is Brussels’ first cat café, with friendly cats from a local shelter. It has been covered by all kinds of media, including Swedish television. The shelter cats at Le Chat Touille want attention and cuddles, and can find a new owner at the café (they are available for adoption). The place is rather special, as you would expect from a cat café. It is very clean and nice, but small and popular which means it gets easily crammed. Consequently, there is some competition for the cats’ affection. As for the cats, they are very playful, and enjoy eating off customers’ plates. The owner is a little nervous about the cats’ behaviour, which is a shame, as “cat people” don’t tend to mind cats walking all over them. And I guess you don’t find many dog persons here.

The tea and cake served were according to my friend Agneta very good, and not terribly expensive. You may have to wait a little, since there is only one person serving. But this is a a good time to play with the cats. We did not sample the food, but it smelled nice.


_DSC3489

Le Chat Touille is an interesting place to say the least, and worth visiting if just for the novelty value of having tea with cats and their fans. I would suggest going after work, or arriving early on the weekends, as it fills up quickly. Enjoy your cat moment.

_DSC3502

Le Chat Touille, rue Tasson-Snel 11, 1060 Saint-Gilles, http://lechattouille.eu/

comment 0

Great little Italian – La bottega no. 3

La Bottega No. 3Tiny and busy, Bottega no. 3 is already a neighbourhood favourite in Chatelain. It’s the perfect alternative Italian, with slightly kitsch decor, personable service and good music  – not to mention great pasta. Despite the tiny kitchen, they also manage to cater for larger groups by serving three big antipasti platters to a company of twelve, and then a selection of the chef’s pasta – all to share on oddly matched china.

Antipasti platterThe scrumptious antipasti platter is packed with all kinds of delicacies, like truffle infused salami, mustardy ham, broccoli soufflé and several kinds of cheese – the nutty, tangy kind that almost stings a bit. Matched with good wine, and nice music streaming out from the huge speakers in the window, it’s a snug place to see an evening away.

Truffle pastaThe pasta we were served came in three formats: one for the veggies with truffle and mushroom, some with salmon and capers, and some with duck and ginger, all served on three huge platters to us to scoop from. They were all of perfect consistency, and the sauces well-paired. The unconventional duck was my favourite, but the vegetarians were also satisfied with their slightly more limited selection. The final of the evening, tiramisu and apple cake, set the comfort tone high. Bottega No. 3 is a little pricey, but serve reliably tasty pasta, and everything surrounding the eating experience is very pleasant. We left satisfied and in high spirits. 

comment 0

Ambient elegance and Wallonian meatballs at Cowfish

Boulettes

Cowfish is a great place for many reasons. For me, their strongest pull is that they serve gorgeous Boulettes Liegeoise. Juicy, tender boulettes smothered in sweet, onion-packed sauce with a perfect level of thyme and allspice, and good fries on the side. It takes me back to Liège, the city of exaggerated infrastructure and enormous tower blocs whose only (although very sturdy) forgiving feature is meatballs. I suppose nothing can beat the real thing, but this is a very close second, and you don’t even have to set a foot in the Primark city of Belgium.

Cowfish

Cowfish, instead, is located in the chic quarter opposite Porte de Namur. It’s ambient, cosy and plays post-rock while serving up an abundance of well-cooked, neatly presented, and varied food. You must arrive hungry, as the smallest food option is two starters + one main.

Sashimi burger

We tried their baked aubergines, Chilean ceviche, shrimp croquettes and grilled camembert for starters, all of which were excellent – especially the savoury, almost dry aubergine and the intensely limey ceviche. My main of boulette leigeiose are, as you have read, incredibly satisfying. Unfortunately the salmon sashimi burger was less so, with a clear fishy smell about it. But all was forgiven for the good service, and surprisingly decent price tag – 29 euros per person. Cowfish is a great choice for a hungry stomach, and it balances lots of food with elegance in an unusual way. Highly recommended.

Camembert