Brussels! What a lovely city - great architecture, great vibe and great food. We started our trip by trying chocolate. It had to be done. The birth place of praline and famous or it's dark and rich delicacies. Brussels is spoilt for choice for chocolate shops. Some are divine and others are a rip so it's best to watch out. We tried Neuhaus first. This was the inventor of praline so that is what we have to try. It was richer and more velvety smooth than any chocolate I've had before.
We also tried chocolate in Godiva and Passion Chocolate in the Sablon area (the passion fruit chocolate is the perfect balance of a sweet centre complimented by an encasing of dark luxurious chocolate. Pierre Marcolini do a very delicious macaroon in passion fruit also. Most of these are chains and can be found in several places but versions of them can be found around Royal Place. This is a cobbled square where flower stalls and street performers all come to create a lively atmosphere day and night. If the chocolate shops weren't enough, it is surrounded by grand buildings adorned in gold and lit up by night.
The waffles are another reason to visit Brussels. There are two main types: the Brussels wafle which is lighter and more rectangular; and the liege waffle which is richer and denser and made using an American panckae style batter. Simply delicious. We tried them with chocolate sauce and caramel. Both were a treat. There are a lot of waffle stalls / shops around but we really liked 'Dandoy'. There are a couple of them but the most popular was on a small cobbled street off of Grand Place.
The other dish we had to try was the unspoken national dish of 'moules frites'. Not traditionally something I would eat but when in brussels... The chips all seem to be similar - smaller than UK chip shops but bigger than fries. We went to La Bonne Faumeur which was a bit out of the centre and in a residential area. They came in a garlic brith with a lot of celery and overall were petty good.
The Sablon area was a small old style triangle with a church on one edge and an antiques market in the middle. It had all the favourite chocolate shops and a few cafes. A lovely place to be. There is a good flea market at Place Du Jeu Deballe and a few good parks to stumble across interspersed between the abundance of museums. I was also impressed by some of the graffiti. Being the home of the beloved comic 'Tin Tin', a lot of the artwork around the city was based on him. Walking down the narrow streets, your eye would catch on someone hanging out of a window or climbing down an escape route but on second glance you would see that it was artwork. It was clean and fresh and untouched by others.
One of lunch spots was near Sablon, on Rue de Namur, and called 'Jat'. It was full of baguettes, salads, milkshakes and coffee in a retro style mismatch of chairs and triangular tables. The kind of interior that makes me excited to be in a coffee shop. I was impressed. My baguette with raisin and nut fresh baked bread, goats cheese and rocket was delicious.
We also tried a bar / restaurant called cafe Belga in Place Eugine Flagey, a large interior full of locals with laptops, groups of friends chatting or tourists like us. I had an unusual but very tasty cauliflower cheese soup. It was off a square with another of the cities many markets.
Our second dinner was at a more lively restaurant in a quieter neighbourhood called 'L'ultime atome' on Rue St Boniface. It had another large interior and was the closest thing to a pub restaurant but with a reasonably priced menu. It had a lovely front terrace with lot sof seating.
Overall , Brussels was a hit and a great place to go for a couple of days.