Published on October 15th, 2018 | by James Drew0
Happy, happy, Happy’s!
There’s more to eating well in Belgium than what is on offer in the country’s capital and Happy’s near Wavre is ample proof of that, writes Martin Banks.
A short car ride from Brussels and just off the ring, this is the place to head, not only for Shushi, the house speciality prepared by Bo Yang, its long-serving Japanese-born chef, but for a genuinely delicious a la carte.
There is, in fact, a combination of two great world cuisines here: Asian and French.
The first comes in the form of the said Sushi which is available on the ground floor from Tuesday to Saturday (also available as a takeaway during this period).
When the restaurant first opened some 12 years ago it was the only place in the immediate area offering sushi. That may have changed with other restaurants now offering this but the general consensus is that there’s none better to be had than at Happy’s.
A small Asian influence is also found on the main card, with the appetizers featuring fried Thai “bits” including nems, scampi and samosa.
This menu, though, mostly features the second world cuisine available here with some classic Belgo-French dishes adorning the card.
Meat lovers will be in their element with a delicious Charolais-Limousin entrecote on the card along with another marvellous meat dish – Scottish Black Angus ‘cub roll’ – all 320 grams of it.
The burgers are the house speciality and the one cooked with Charolais beef and served with onions, smoked paprika and Happy’s sauce is one of the best sellers.
All meats are served with fries and salad with an accompanying very tasty sauce of your choice.
Another customer favourite is the cod and butternut with grey shrimps.
There’s also a good choice of pasta and salads if that’s more your thing.
The truth is that whatever you plump for here you are unlikely to be disappointed.
The kiddies are well catered for as well with items such as the ever-popular Happy´s burgers. If you happen to visit on Sunday, you can choose from the evening a la carte menu or a remarkably well-priced 3-course Sunday lunch (a mere €38, with wine extra). This offers a couple of choices of both starters and mains.
With several top companies nearby, there is also a very vibrant lunchtime trade and the special lunch menu – available Monday to Friday and priced just €16 – includes one of four dishes: beef, a sushi plate, dish of the day, such as filets de rougets or saute de boeuf, or a veggie option.
Deserts are equally wonderful as is the very impressive wine list, including a great range of French and New World wines, plus an equally vast range of cocktails in the trendy yet cosy bar.
Overseeing things in the kitchen is the French-born head chef, Olivier Bellaches who’s really made his mark since he arrived a couple of years ago. The menu is changes four times per year with the next rotation due in about 2-3 weeks (expect more game to feature from around November).
The prices, considering the excellent quality, are very affordable and probably several euros less than you would usually pay in Brussels (another good reason to venture of the city to this place).
The restaurant, just 10 minutes from Wavre centre, is divided into two parts, with the ground and upper floors seating about 100 plus a lovely 60-seat terrace area. There’s also an air conditioned, insulated room for private parties for up to 45 people.
The vast wooden beams and superb lighting make for a truly wonderful dining experience. The service is particularly friendly (Brussels restos please take note!) with the staff ever eager to explain things on the menu where necessary.
The owners here are never slow to innovate and the most recent development – a wine bar called Gecko, adjacent to the restaurant – has already proved a huge success.
Opened in January 2017 and boasting a lovely contemporary décor, it serves splendid cocktails and tapas and features jazz performances and a DJ on certain nights.
It is open until late from Tuesday-Saturday with a Latino evening on Wednesdays, plus a stand up comic once a month (see the excellent website for details).
If you fancy extending the evening after dinner – or just a good old night out this is the place to be.
Also worth mentioning is the fact that there is plenty of car parking spaces (yet another plus over many Brussels restos!).
With its top notch cuisine and service to match from welcoming staff like Eric and Walter, it is easy to see why Happy´s customers remain so loyal. Open daily, its customers travel from as far as Brussels and Namur.
It may be a cliche, but you really will feel ‘happy’ when you leave here!
Chaussee des Collines 106
T. +32 (0)10 222 240