Eat & Drink

Published on May 31st, 2018 | by Tony Mallett

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La Becasse – just because…

Friendly restaurant features two sets of brothers in arms, as Martin Banks discovers…

Diners at La Becasse, a traditional Brussels brasserie in Ixelles, could be forgiven for thinking they’re seeing double.

Lorenzo and Raffael are possibly the longest-serving staff at this perennially popular restaurant.

They also happen to be twins which, for those unaware of the relationship, can certainly make you look twice if they are both serving in the restaurant at the same time.

The pair, who’ve worked here many years, are not the only brothers working at La Becasse. So too are Ibrahim and his older brother Momo (pictured), also waiters and Brussels-born.

The friendly and happy way the two sets of brothers go about their work is typical of everyone working here.

The pleasant ambience created by these family links fits in well with the ‘down-to-earth’ cuisine which is both very filling and very satisfying.

It isn’t for nothing that it started life as a ‘people’s café’. That was many years ago but the same philosophy still exists: no gastronomic pretensions but, rather, good, old fashioned, honest cuisine.

It’s been a fixture of this bustling neighbourhood, straddling two campuses belonging to ULB, for decades, and must be one of the few places in Brussels where you’re advised to make a reservation for a table at one o’clock in the morning!

Hard to imagine but it is not untypical for the place to be full at that time of the
night, especially if there’s an event going on at the nearby university.

It’s one of the few places around that is still fully operational at such a time. Indeed, during the week the kitchen remains open until 1am and until 2am on Friday and Saturday.

Time was when the kitchen stayed open ‘til 6am but even La Becasse has rowed back on that!

Even so, the doors still open for breakfast at 8am and remain open until 4am the next day.

Not to be confused with a restaurant of (almost) the same name, located in the centre of Brussels, this lovely brasserie won’t leave you disappointed.

There’s some fine and traditional Belgian classics, such as kidneys in mustard sauce, plus some fine steaks, like Chateaubriand ou cote a l’os and l’Americain et le tartare.

The main card is very good but is also supplemented by a suggestions list, which changes regularly (every 6-8 weeks) and features seasonal offerings such as asparagus, game and mussels.

Some of the dishes here are also the result of the “fantasies of the (Tunisian-born) chef” with the overall aim being to offer an “excellent rapport” between value for money and quality.

In this regard, the owners do not fail. Many items are homemade, such as the onion soup, croquettes and mushrooms on toast with garlic cream (another house speciality and something you are unlikely to find in many other eating places).

There’s also a nice choice of pasta such as tagliatelles ou les spaghettis, and fine seafood, including a very nice sole and also cod.

The restaurant, though, has built the good reputation is still enjoys today on the quality of its meat dishes – it is a real carnivores’ paradise – and, apart from the impressive steak, you will also find some nice veal, lamb and poultry.

Beware! The portions are very large, so try to leave a bit of room if you can for desert as it would be a shame to leave without sampling a pudding – these include more Belgian classics, such as waffles.

Apart from wholesome food, visitors are also spoilt for choice for drinks which include a “fun cocktail” of the month (with or without alcohol) plus a classic French and New World wine list which, considering the quality, is excellent value.

With summer approaching, it is good to know that there’s also a (heated) outside terrace. As intimate and traditional as the interior is (it’s also possible to book rooms for private events), it’s also good now and again to eat in the open air.

Unlike so many restaurants in the city centre, parking is not an issue here, with lots of available spaces nearby. It’s a sign of a solid establishment, especially in the horeca business, if there is a regular and stable ownership. That certainly applies here: there have been less than a handful of owners since the 1960s.

The various family connections all create a very welcoming family feel to this place which (the food aside) is possibly the best recommendation one can provide.

More info

La Becasse
476 chaussee de Boondael
Ixelles
02 649 0641

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