Published on January 21st, 2018 | by Tony Mallett0
La Becasse – just because…
In an industry notorious for its rapid staff turnover La Becasse in Ixelles must be a candidate for the Guinness Book of Records, writes Martin Banks.
Some of the employees at La Becasse have worked there since the 1980s which, surely, must rank as something of a record in the horeca sector in Belgium.
The reason, according to Italian-born Andrea, one of the traditionally-dressed waiters who himself has worked at the restaurant since 1989, is simple. “We love it here,” declares Andrea, who hails from Rome but came to Belgium with his parents when he was a teenager.
“You are made to feel as though it’s your own restaurant and that is why there is a real family-feel to the place.”
His cousins, Lorenzo and Raffael, have also worked here for many years. Indeed, Andrea estimates that some three quarters of the staff have worked at La Becasse for between 20-30 years.
Observing Andrea and his colleagues at work, and the sheer satisfaction they clearly get from their jobs, is a pleasure in itself.
They offer a warm welcome which is in perfect keeping with the atmosphere at this very friendly and informal brasserie which, having been on the scene for an eternity, is itself something of an institution, at least in this part of Brussels.
It has no gastronomic pretensions but more than satisfies its army of regular customers with good, old fashioned, honest cuisine.
They also start very early – and finish very late – at this place. Doors open from 8am when croissants and omelettes are available, not least for the thousands of students and staff arriving for work at the nearby l’Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
The very extensive, fixed menu is available from 11am onwards, right up to about 2am the next day.
In fact, the brasserie/bar stays open until about 3am during the week and even later, up to 5am, on Friday and Saturday.
With amazing opening hours like those there surely is no excuse for saying, at least in this particular Brussels suburb, that there is nothing to do after sunset!
If you come for a meal then you will not be disappointed. The portions are big and the prices, given the quality, are surprisingly modest.
Starters include great Belgian classics like les scampis sautes au beurre a l’ail and croquettes de crevettes, with the very big selection of mains dishes also paying homage to the best of Belgian-French cuisine.
The choice includes a very tasty (and filling) les rognons a la moutarde de Meaux served with pommes croquettes and veg and another which is ideal at this time of year, jambonneau roti a la moutarde a l’ancienne.
Other popular dishes include la brochette mixte boeuf et agneau et ses crudites and les cotes d’agneau while there is also an excellent selection of fishe, such as la sole de la mer du Nord facon Meuniere.
If the kitchen at La Becasse is well known for a speciality it is probably its steaks, including a wonderfully tasty chateaubriand and filet pur, both excellent.
For those who prefer something other than meat and fish there’s a splendid choice of salads and pasta to tickle your fancy while the kids are made very welcome here, not least by those friendly waiters but also with kid-sized portions.
The wine list is just as impressive as the main card, with some easy-on-the-palate French wines and others from the New World. Like the food, these are also very reasonably priced, not least when compared with other similar places in the centre of Brussels.
Little has been altered to the very large and atmospheric two-floor interior over the years, not least because (as one of the staff says): “Why should anyone want to change something that works so well?”
This brasserie, which is open 7/7, is situated at the heart of a major university campus – and the students naturally add to the colour of the area – but the clients come from far and wide to sample its wares.
If you haven’t discovered the La Becasse experience yet, do so – you will not be disappointed.
Chausse de Boondael, 476, Ixelles
02 649 0641