Eat & Drink

Published on September 1st, 2021 | by Martin Banks


Brussels restaurants help lead recovery for city’s horeca trade

The first shoots of recovery for Belgium’s battered horeca trade are now being seen. From 1 September, the country will ease the rules on cafes and restaurants, writes Martin Banks.

Also, a new scheme has just been launched to revive the Brussels hospitality sector with cab company Taxis Verts and the Federation Horeca Brussels offering customers €10 vouchers so that they can travel to restaurants and bars by taxi.

Elsewhere, “1040″, the lovely restaurant of the Sofitel Brussels Europe (on Place Jourdan), has recorded one of its busiest ever Augusts, a clear sign that business is –finally- getting back on its feet after the never-ending health pandemic.

This restaurant, which has an open kitchen, partly showcases the talents of top Belgian chef Philippe Watteyne who burst the screen on the Top Chef tv show a few years ago. He’s since written cook books and made numerous tv appearances. He actually started cooking at the age of just two (!) with his mother and grandmother and some of the dishes here at named after him.

“Jean-Phi”, as he is nicknamed, likes to highlight products from local artisans and producers and the name of this modern brasserie is a nod to the postal code of the Brussels municipality of Etterbeek, where it has been established since May 2019.

It was at this time that the hotel decided to call on the very media chef Jean-Philippe, already known by gourmets through the Top Chef show and his restaurants in Mons, to completely rethink the restaurant’s concept and the result was a new, refined design.

It is Jean-Phi who signs the restaurant menu and comes over from Mons to personally supervise the brasserie several times each week.

The most popular choice here, and it is easy to see why, is a 3-course menu is available for just €37, a real snip if ever there was. It contains five suggestions per service, such as fish waterzooi, beef sirloin and croquette,and suggestions that can be taken à la carte.

There are starters from €12, main courses from €18 and desserts (such as Brussels waffles and Belgian cheese) from €9.Compared with many other restaurants in the city of equal standard this is remarkably cheap. There’s also a terrific wine card.

As many of the products come, as far as possible, from the Belgian producers and a garden has even been installed on the roof of the hotel where the many aromatic herbs used in the kitchen here are grown. Beehives that provide honey for desserts and breakfasts have even been installed.

Normally the restaurant can seat about 80 but that has been halved by the current health requirement to space tables.

The interior of the resto is tastefully furnished with works by the Belgian artist Francis Méan, who was inspired by personalities born in Etterbeek who include footballers and singers.

There is no terrace but the hotel has a superb rooftop on the 7th floor with a breath taking view of the surroundings, including the nearby European Parliament and Commission.

But, probably, the best thing about this fine resto (which attracts its fair share of locals as well as hotel guests) is the chance to have a taste of Watteyne’s excellent cuisine.

And here’s something else to look out for: a brand new menu is being launched from September. Recommended.

Place Jourdan 1, Brussels
T. +32 (0)2 235 5123


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