Published on October 11th, 2021 | by Brussels In View0
Pandemic-hit new Brussels resto hopes for much-needed change in fortunes
Imagine opening a new business only for it to be forced to close for a year soon afterwards. That is exactly what happened to the owner of a new restaurant in Brussels that must have had the unluckiest start ever to such a new venture.
LUX/BXL opened last year but, a mere couple of months later, it was forced to put the shutters up (along with all other such places) due to the crippling health pandemic.
Little could the owner have realised but it would be forced to remain shut for not less than 12 months.
It is little wonder, then, that when it was finally allowed to reopen that it celebrated in style, with a party being thrown for its customers. The party was also used to celebrate a return to the office for some of the people working nearby.
Yes, it has certainly been a rollercoaster start for this newly launched eatery, which stands in the shadow of the European Parliament.
As such, it does rely on business from the EU institution and, here again, LUX/BXL is not having the best of luck.
Many of the parliament’s workers are still homeworking which, while it might be nice for them, is not great news for those businesses that count on their custom.
It all adds up to something of a perfect storm, not least for a new venture like this restaurant.
Despite all that, the owner and his hard working team remain optimistic that it the venture will be a success.
The team includes Gianni, head waiter and in charge of front of house affairs, and Marc, the experienced chef.
Both were taken on board by Jo, the owner, when he was decided to take over what was already a well-established restaurant, albeit under a different name (Poivre & Sel).
Jo, who is a practicing lawyer, had previously eaten at the restaurant and decided to buy it when it came up for sale.
He knew Gianni and Marc from another Brussels restaurant where they then worked (in Marc’s case, for 11 years) and wanted them both to be part of his new culinary adventure.
So far, so good. Then the pandemic hit and everything was, effectively, put on hold for no less than a year.
Not being one to stand idle, Jo and his colleagues used to the unforeseen break to refresh and refurbish the restaurant which, along with others, was finally allowed to reopen in May.
It is located very close to an assortment of other eateries (including Italian and Greek) but the thing that sets it apart from the others is the fact that it puts the emphasis very much on Brussels and Belgian cuisine.
You will find some great local classics on the menu here, such as carbonades made with brown beer, vol au vent, stoemp aux saucisses (a customer favourite) and blanquette de veau (pieces of veal in a sauce and served with spring onion).
So good it is that Gianni says that lots of the restaurant’s clients come just for the stoemp alone!
All are displayed on a blackboard brought to your table but so too are a range of other, equally excellent dishes, which the owner wanted to keep due to popular demand.
That other great Belgian tradition, the frites, is well represented here where the chips are crispy but not fatty (the oil used to cook them is changed daily).
These include a delicious T bone steak, penne with truffle and chicken with tarragon. You can also expect to see some game dishes available soon now that autumn is here. Considering the quality, the prices are exceptionally reasonable (the stoemp is just €16 for example).
The restaurant, which also has an upstairs room for private functions, is close to the busy Gare du Luxembourg and this is reflected both in its name and also by a striking large wooden frame in front of the open plan kitchen that resembles the sort you might find in a train station.
Gianni, a particularly welcoming and friendly host, explains the ethos here, saying, “we try to do the simply things well. We use only the freshest of products and ingredients and try also to put the emphasis of Belgian cuisine.
“It has been a very difficult period for the whole industry of course, ourselves included, but we are hoping that more people will soon be working normally from their offices which will obviously help us a lot,” he said.
Given the quite awful set of circumstances that befell this restaurant, a lot of owners would have given up but, to his enormous credit, Jo (backed by his team) kept going. All three now deserve a bit of luck as they try to kick start their new venture. Open Mon-Fri.
2 rue du Parnasse, Brussels
02 503 4693