Eat & Drink

Published on March 4th, 2023 | by Brussels In View


Varinder: Vegetarianism big time

We hear a lot these days about the value of vegetarianism and how we should all consider going “meat free”.

It is all well intentioned and admirable but, in reality, how much is actually done to encourage or cultivate veggie eating when dining out?

Ask yourself this: how hard to you usually have to look to find the veggie options on a typical menu at your favourite (or any) restaurant?

The answer is that even when you do find the vegetarian dishes on the card they amount to no more than a choice of two or three things.

That is something at least one restaurant is trying to correct.

It is called Food With Varinder and it really is flying the flag for vegetarianism in this part of Belgium.

It serves only veggie dishes but the first to make clear is that if you are a meat-only eater you should still consider eating here.

The owners, Varinder and husband Siamack, are often pleasantly surprised at how often people (who may be usually meat eaters in the main) tell them that, after eating here, they have not missed meat being on the menu one bit.

One reason for that the quality of the veggie dishes Varinder serves at this delightful cosy restaurant in La Hulpe.

One might ask: why would you miss a steak or lamb chop when you can eat – very nutritious and healthy – veggie food that is this good?

That is why the restaurant has proved such a success despite opening at possibly the worst possible time for such a new venture – 7 weeks before the first coronavirus-enforced lockdown in Belgium.

It’s the sort of start that would have made even the most determined of businesses to think twice about such a new project but Varinder and her husband ploughed on regardless, offering a takeaway service during lockdown which, in fact, proved a hit with locals.

That was the springboard for what they now have: a highly successful restaurant where people have to book several weeks in advance to be sure of securing a table.

It is worth noting that there is also at least one other feature here that is quite different to most other restos you will come across.

It does not have any sort of menu but, rather, a choice of daily offerings, or “comfort food” as Varinder likes to call them, that she usually imagines that very morning.

She usually often has no idea what to cook until she wakes up on the day.

She really sees the resto as a natural “extension” of home where the family eat much the same kind of food as they serve to customers, which can also often be gluten-free and vegan.

Diners here are presented, instead of the rather tired old traditional fixed menu, with a list of about three “little bites” – starters if you will – and about half a dozen “bigger bites” (mains) that Varinder has been inspired to cook on the day.

The next day may well contain a totally different list of “bites”, again all the result of Varinder’s rich culinary imagination.

She slavishly works away behind an open kitchen preparing the home-made dishes, able supported by a small team, while her husband looks after things front of house. It is an excellent pairing, almost as impressive as the food.

Varinder is an Anglo-Indian lady while Siamack has a British-Iranian background and the tasty food is largely characterised largely by Indian and Iranian-influenced flavours. That is until you come to the lovely deserts which are usually decidedly British-led and includes carrot and cheesecake.

Neither had, prior to opening the resto, any kind of experience at all in the catering/culinary trade.Lifelong vegetarian Varinder, for instance, studied for a Master’s in Business Administration.

The couple, both in their 50s who have three children, first moved to Belgium in 2006 with the intention of staying just three months en route to further travels in Italy. But they “fell in love” with the country so much that they stayed which, today, is good news for lovers of nice veggie food.

But Siamack recalls that one day Varinder came home from walking the dog and told him she wanted to open a resto and had just found the perfect place for it.

The place in question was a rather rundown property which had been a dress shop in its former life. Despite his wariness, she insisted and they both threw all their energy and effort into what is now Food With Varinder.

The resto (which also offers cookery classes and caters for private events) is located outside Brussels Capital Region but is very easily accessed as it is very close to La Hulpe train station with direct and fast services to Brussels.

If you have not tried this delightful little resto (it seats about 18) yet, do so. And, as you will discover, you’re likely to enjoy it whether you are a veggie eater or not.

Food With Varinder
Place A Favresse 71, La Hulpe
T. +32 (0)456 205 000

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