Marcel Burger Bar in Brussels

Mr Draper and I had a catch up recently… and it just so happens that we got to natter away in the newly opened Marcel Burger Bar in Ixelles. Now, let me explain that I have been on a #burgerquest for sometime, and up until recently was convinced that Ellis burger was IT!

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A stones throw from the Chatelain Market, on Rue Américaine (sandwiched between La Pizzeria and La Trattoria and directly opposite Riccio Capriccio) – it meant that it was in easy walking distance for both us … and easily accessible via public transport for most!

With spring finally starting to settle in, a few tables were set up on the pavement outside the entrance & shop front window (in typical Ixelles style), but we opted to rather sit inside.

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Interior-wise, the décor is simple and unassuming with an unexpected (but happy) surprise of how much seating is actually available! (There is a big room at the back with the most gorgeous skylight streaming blue skies and sunshine in)

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Staff were super friendly and multi-lingual and couldn’t wait to explain the MARCEL concept to us when we arrived! Clearly a group of people that are proud of the establishment that they work in!! And of course – they loved telling us how they had found 7 beers that pair beautifully with their burgers!!

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Service was super swift, in fact – our burgers arrived within 5minutes of ordering… Mr Draper ordered the CHEESE BACON (Beef burger, with bacon, secret sauce, salad & tomato 11.50€) and the recommended pairing beer.

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While I opted for the SWEET LAMB (Lamb burger, gouda cheese, cumin, red onions, salad, tomato & coriander 12.50€). Which was really and truly amazing!!! In fact, I took one mouth… started MMmmm and almost shoved the burger into Mr Drapers face so that he too could experience the amazing-ness of it! The amount of coriander to lamb was perfect!

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Their 7 burger options range from normal (Marcel = Beef, onion, mint, parsley, salad & tomatoes) to vegan (Kale, quinoa, onions, avo, salad, parsley & tomato) … plus the obligatory chicken (with spinach & avo) as well as the ones that we ordered!

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Burgers are served on their own (without sides) so you need to order these as extras… we shared a portion of frites (3.50€) & a side of coleslaw (3.50€) – but they also offer home-made guacamole & nachos (4.50€) and sweet potato frites (4.50€)

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In total – our bill came to 40euros for 2 burgers, 2 sides, 1 beer & 2 cooldrinks. Not cheap but in no way expensive.

Would I return? Absolutely… From a location point of view it is perfect, staff were friendly and the food was tasty.

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MARCEL BURGER BAR

address: 87 Rue Américaine, Ixelles, 1050, Brussels, BELGIUM

telephone: +32 2 534 34 34

Opening hours: closed on Mondays, Tuesday to Friday: 12h00-14h30 & 19h00-22h30; Saturday: 12h30-15h30 & 19h00-22h30; Sunday Brunch: 12h30-15h30

Facebook & Instagram

Their website: http://www.marcelburgerbar.com doesn’t seem to be working yet

Chocolate Brownies

We recently held our 4th Brussels Food Friends blogger event on Saturday 28th March 2015 … and this one was just as awesome as the previous 3 (ok, I might be a little bias on this whole community… but trust me when I tell you that the attendees, goodie bag & workshop were all FANTASTIC!).

The workshop held on the day was given by Iris of SWONDERFUL – helping bloggers with food styling for Instagram & for their blogs using either cheese & breads, etc or chocolate brownies & berries… Composition was completely up to the blogger pairs during the practical portion of the day. If you are interested in seeing some of the pictures – just use the hashtag #BxlFF4 on Twitter & Instagram for some awesome shots!

And for this event – I baked a batch of (aforementioned) chocolate brownies…. which were devoured on site or taken home wrapped up in foil…something I am very proud of! They are deliciously squidgy – can be made in advance and last for at least 5days (if they are hovered up by friends and family). In fact – I would go as far as to say that they taste better on day 2 & day 3…..

I didn’t get a chance to take a picture or two on the day – as I was faffing around co-ordinating and chatting… but Alexia of Must be Yummie  very kindly shared her workshop image with us… pretty tasty looking, eh?

Chocolate Brownies

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 teaspoon bicarb of soda
250ml plain yoghurt
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup oil
1 cup water
125ml butter

Mixture 1 in a large bowl:  flour & sugar

Mixture 2 in a medium bowl: eggs, vanilla essence, bicarb of soda, yoghurt

Mixture 3 in a saucepan: cocoa, oil,  water and butter

  1. Bring mixture 3 to the boil on the stovetop
  2. Remove from heat & add mixture 3 to mixture 1
  3. Then add mixture 2 & gently incorporate together
  4. Bake for 30min at 200C

ICING:

1/2 cup butter,
1/2 cup icing sugar
2 Tablespoons cocoa
2 Tablespoons yoghurt

  1. Using the same saucepan as Mixture 3 and bring all ingredients to the boil
  2. pour over brownies after they have been removed from the oven and have a cooled a bit

Red Velvet Cookie Bars (SRC)

That is right – it is Secret Recipe Club time again!

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What is SRC, you ask? Well – a group of foodbloggers who get allocated anothers blog each month with the soul purpose of trying out one of their recipes, photographing it & blogging about it – with publishing all happening at the same time! The best part is that you don’t know who got your blog until the reveal!! (the bloggers version of secret santa!)

This month – I got Renee’s Kitchen Adventures:

A stay at home mom with 3 children, happily married for 20years (wow) – who was previously a nurse in the labour wards and now shares some delicious (and healthy) recipes that are sure to have you drooling and wishing you lived in Ohio so that you could be friends with her!

While I dreamily read through her blog, ooh-ing & aah-ing over her photos and recipes – I found myself torn between 2 specific recipes – a lemon loaf cake (because I really do adore lemon flavoured bakes) and her red velvet cookie bars. The latter won because I couldn’t stop looking at how gorgeous they looked (or stop thinking about how scrumptious they probably tasted).

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The texture is something between cookie dough and squidgy chocolate brownies… so more-ish! And although I loved the cream cheese icing, HIM preferred the cookie bars without… and we both agreed that it was super sweet – so a little piece goes a long way (meaning that there is more to share and the treats last longer!)

Would I make it again? Yes… this is to be a sure fire winner for parties!!!

Red Velvet Cookie Bars

3 cups of flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter (softened)
1 & 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used NOMU)
1 Tablespoon red food colouring

Frosting/Icing

1/4 cup butter (softened)
170g cream cheese (softened)
pinch of salt
2 cups of icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
candies to decorate (Renee’s used valentine M&M’s… but I used hundreds & thousands and a few raspberries)

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  • Combine dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt & cocoa powder
  • Cream sugar & butter together until light & fluffy (best to use an electric beater)
  • Add eggs, red food colouring & vanilla extract – mix until combined
  • Slowly add dry ingredients with mixer on the lowest speed – until all flour mixture is combined with butter mixture (should form a nice dough)

cookie dough

  • Press dough evenly into a greased & parchment lined baking pan
  • Bake for 15-20min at 180C
  • Cool in pan
  • to make the frosting/icing – combine butter & cream cheese until fluffy with electric beater – add icing sugar & vanilla extract –
  • Beat until spreading consistency
  • Frost/ice the cookies in the pan, decorate & cut into squares

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Madame Chapeau Opening

I was super excited to get the chance to attend one of the opening evening celebrations of Madame Chapeau – a new Stoemp & beer restaurant in the centre of Brussels.

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Madame Chapeau, in reference to the cult work of Brussels cultural heritage – whereby the role of Madame Chapeau in a famous drama Bossemans et Coppenolle is performed by a man dressed as a woman – there is even a statue of Madame Chapeau nearby.

But the really cool thing about this new restaurant establishment is that it combines the concept of traditional Belgian specialty food (i.e. Stoemp) in a trendy fun unpretentious environment. PLUS they also promise to offer entertainment in the future – such as one Man Shows, Fashion Brunch, Set Dj’s and concerts for music discovery through quality artistic performances of the actors little or well-known to the Belgian scene.

So it isn’t just about food and beer… there is a bit of culture thrown in as well :)

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The interior reflect clean lines – a similar trend seen in new restaurants that have opened up in Brussels recently… wooden tables (without table clothes) simple seating and some form of painted wall décor….

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The food concept is pretty cool – you can either order off the menu or the specials board – or you can use their formula concept:

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1. Pick your Stoemp (your mashed potato & vegetable combination)
2. Select your protein (either sausage, meat, chicken, fish or even Lobster… and there is even a vegetarian offering)
3. And finally… what sauce would you like to accompany your dish???

This means that the combinations are endless and everyone is catered for!!! And all for the pretty decent price of 13,90€.

During the opening evening – the venue was pumping with cool hipster looking folk (barring myself of course)… and space was a bit of a premium (although I did manage to secure a barstool in order to people watch)… The champagne flowed and tables were stacked with wooden boards offering cheese, bread and sliced meat. Waitron staff were constantly moving around re-filling glasses and offering tasty morsels (like cubes of fresh salmon & shot glasses filled with the most delicious tasting pumpkin soup).

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Although I only stayed an hour – it is definitely a spot that I would return to with HIM (obviously because HIM is a BIG BIG BIG (did I mention BIG) Fan of Stoemp and Sausage….) and because during the short time that I was there – I didn’t actually get to taste any stoemp!!!

Have you been???

MADAME CHAPEAU

address: 94 rue du Marché au Charbon – 1000 Bruxelles, BELGIUM

telephone: +32 2 514 40 44

Opening hours: Kitchen: 12h00-21h00; Bar: 12h00-00h00 during the week & 12h00-03h00 on the weekends. Closed on Mondays

No website at the moment

facebook page & twitter handle: @MmeChapeauBxl 

 

3 Cheese Tuna Pasta Bake

Throughout Lent – HIM and I both tried to stick to *Fish Fridays* (or meat-free Fridays)…and obviously Good Friday was no exception!

This means either abstaining from meat in totality (I.e. vegetarian meals) or eating a bit of fish.

In fact – I have memories of my childhood – of *Fish Fridays* happening every week, not just during Lent… and Mommabear stopping at “Mr Fish” (a Fish&Chip shop run by a Portuguese Family in Pinelands) to get a fish cake (for me), a piece of fish (for herself) and a packet of super-slap potato chips (frites). (For those who are not aware of the “slap chips” terminology – it means that the potatoes have been peeled, sliced, fried in oil and then are covered in salt (& vinegar if you like) and wrapped up in unprinted newsprint paper… and remain a “slap”/limp characteristic – probably because they continue to sweat in the newsprint paper on the way home… no hard crusted French frites here!)… BUT they are so good! (Especially as a hangover cure!)

Anyhoo – I digress….

Keeping our Friday low-key – I whipped up a tuna pasta bake but added in a whole lot of cheese – 3 types to be exact (Parmesan, Gruyère & Cheddar… all really strong flavours)

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This recipe is simple but heartily filling! Perfect for a rainy day or just for a bit of comfort…

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3 Cheese Tuna Pasta Bake

2 tins of tuna, drained (we used the tuna chunks in springwater)
240g of cheese (80g parmesan, 80g grated cheddar & 80g grated Gruyère)
400g dry pasta (we used the large macaroni type)
600ml milk
100g butter
2 Tablespoons of plain flour

  • Bring salted water to the boil – in order to cook the pasta (according to the packet instructions)
  • Melt butter in saucepan large enough to make the Béchamel sauce
  • Once butter has melted, stir in the flour to make roux and add a dash of milk to give it some liquid consistency.
  • Using a whisk add half of the milk to the roux and whisk until smooth
  • Leave over a low heat, whisking occasionally & adding dashes of milk when the mixture starts to thicken
  • Repeat whisking & adding milk until Béchamel sauce has the consistency of a custard & remove from heat
  • Once the pasta is cooked – remove from heat & drain (the cooking of the pasta & béchamel sauce should take the same amount of time – 10-20minutes)
  • Add the tuna to the Béchamel sauce
  • Layer the Pasta & tuna sauce in an oven proof dish
  • Top with cheese
  • Bake for 20-25minutes at 180C

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Coconut Macaroons

When I first starting reading all the Brussels blogs for Brussels Food Friends – I instantly started to associate certain bloggers with their blog posts….

So for the longest time – I always thought of Coconut Macaroons when I thought of Sarah’s Little Kitchen… she had made them a few months ago, I had shown the picture and recipe to HIM…and he had confessed to loving these coconut treats… so I promised to make them… I just lost time in actually getting around to making it!

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This past weekend – I finally got a little burst of energy (something that has been sorely lacking over the last 2 months – but that is a whole other story!)… and I decided to make up a batch.

There are 2 things that I did incorrectly… I didn’t add enough desiccated coconut… and I decided to use mini muffin trays instead of a grease-proof paper on a baking tray… this lead to one problem… the bottoms remains in the tray… which meant that I spent the better part of the afternoon eating the bottoms directly out of the muffin tray ….

BUT I can tell you that these are DELICIOUS and an absolute make-again kind of recipe!

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Coconut Macaroons

5 egg whites
225 g sugar
275 g dried desiccated coconut
1 teaspoon of orange blossom essence

  • Place egg whites & sugar into a saucepan
  • Place saucepan on the stovetop over a low heat, whisking until sugar is melted and the mixture is white & foamy
  • Remove from heat and add the coconut and orange blossom essence & combine well
  • Place dollops onto a greased baking tray
  • Bake at 180C for 15-20min until brown on top (and still soft in the centre)

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Ciabatta Bread

As some of you already know… I have done a few workshops at La Cucina Delle Zie in Brussels before (a cupcake decorating course & a pizza making course) and I have also attended one of Arianna of Un Altro Colore‘s focaccia making courses through Bookalokal as well.

So when I saw that Arianna & La Cucina Delle Zie had teamed up to provide a “natural baking” series – I was quick to convince HIM that we needed to attend one of them. Sadly – we couldn’t attend all 4 of them due to calendar clashes – but we did manage to find one Sunday that worked for us…. which happened to be the CIABATTA SOURDOUGH workshop.

We were in for a treat… in just over 2 hours – we made our sourdough ciabatta, watched a previously proofed ciabatta get slipped into the oven… and then stood back to nibble our way through 2 different types of freshly baked bread… *sigh*… before walking home with our own bowls of ciabatta dough proofing…

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Ciabatta

220g water
250g white strong flour
50g sourdough
6 g salt
Extra virgin olive oil

  • Mix water & sourdough together until sourdough has dissolved
  • Add wet mixture to flour and using a fork, gently stir until combined
  • Add the salt & using a fork, stir through
  • Add some olive oil around the edge of the bowl and make sure that the dough separates from the bowl with the help of this oil
  • Place a towel over the bowl and leave for half an hour
  • lightly oil your fingers & stretch/fold over the dough, turning the bowl 90 degrees after each fold
  • do this about 4 times

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  • Place the towel over the bowl & leave for half an hour
  • Repeat the stretch/fold action at least another 2 times (3-4times in total)
  • Leave the dough to rise – either in the fridge overnight (to slow down the process) or for an hour in a warm area
  • Well flour a work top – and gently stretch dough over it – you can then cut the dough into as many pieces of ciabatta that you wish (it can be left as is or can be folded over gently) and then placed onto a floured plastic film

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  • Leave for half an hour
  • Place on a baking tray
  • Bake at 250 degrees for 10minutes, then turn down the temperature to 200 degrees for a further 15-20minutes

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Eating at the New Terhills Hotel (Maasmechelen)

HIM & I were recently invited to spend an evening at the recently opened Terhills Hotel in Maasmechelen (right next door to the Outlet Village) as guests of the PR agency & the hotel.

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We arrived mid afternoon on a friday – with a few dark clouds threatening to break what promised to be a beautiful weather weekend – but never fear, a few dark clouds makes for some gorgeous pictures!

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With the presence of the former Eisden coal mine still ever-present in both the structures outside…

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As well in the artwork in the rooms – the essence of history & old-world feel of the neo-classical Baroque exterior in no way competes with the plush luxuriously decorated interior (done by Dôme Deco … even offering the opportunity that guests who fall in love with particular pieces can even enquire at reception about purchasing to take them home!!) – in fact the new & old merge so perfectly together that you couldn’t imagine it any other way.

check the artwork on the mirror above the bed... pretty cool, eh?
check the artwork on the mirror above the bed… pretty cool, eh?

The lights… oh the lights…

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And a reception area that isn’t like any other hotels… demure and unassuming while remaining CHIC in every way…. with staff working off ipads to complete check-in & check-out.

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One thing that really struck me was that this is a perfect getaway for EVERYONE… not just shoppers who love Maasmechelen… but also for Nature lovers with the Hoge Kempen National Park right next door… and active sports folk who can enjoy a day of wakeboarding or water ski-ing at the Cable Parc next door… PLUS the future brings plans of a wellness centre (“hello spa treatments”) and a restaurant/conference area. (Although it must be noted that if you are interested in Spa treatments such as facials, manicure and relaxing or deep-tissue massages – these can already be offered by the hotel either in their mini spa or in your own room!!!)

After the tour (and a good portion of the afternoon doing retail therapy at Maasmechelen Village) – we settled down at the Bar for an evening of drinks & bar food – from Chef Danny Vanderhoven with their DNY, very personal, food & drinks concept.

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Although we sat in the bar lounge area – patrons could make use of the breakfast area for a more traditional table & chair eating experience – if they so wished.

The food concept revolves around street food – with small tapas style sharing dishes being on offer ranging in price from 8 to 12euros per dish. The idea is to order a few & share. We started with an Asian fish/seafood soup (which was probably my least favourite dish of the evening), then some shrimp croquettes & a charcuterie board.

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Once these dishes were cleared – we moved onto the next round – hand cut Belgian Frites, vegetable bitterballen, vegetable tempura & rabbit skewers.

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In terms of food – it was perfect as bar food nibbles – but I am not sure it would be sufficient as a full meal if you were staying for longer than an evening.

We spent the rest of the evening in our Comfort Room – just one of the 60 stylishly decorated & spacious hotel rooms available.

The next morning… we sauntered down to the Breakfast area… (whose lights I have fallen head over heels in love with) and enjoyed a shot of fresh fruit juice smoothies along with cups of freshly brewed coffee.

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The buffet selection is compact but fully comprehensive – offering a selection of different breads (including gluten-free!!); cheeses, meats, salmon, spreads; fresh fruit (whole or already sliced); cakes and of course boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, bacon & sausage.

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I actually couldn’t eat everything that I wanted to… but I can say that it was a great way to start the day … and an even more wonderful way to end this little getaway experience.

Price wise – you are looking at 4star exquisite accommodation from 139€ per room (but they also have a whole host of amazing specials… including their introductory price of 83.50€).

Disclosure: I feel it is very important to disclose that we did not pay for our experience there – but I do promise that this a 100% accurate review of our experience.

Terhills Hotel

Address: Zetellaan 68, 3630 Maasmechelen, BELGIUM

http://www.terhillshotel.com

Homemade Hot Chocolate (SRC)

It is Secret Recipe Club time again – when bloggers from all over, participate in a recipe swap of sorts. Each of us get given another bloggers site in order to re-make and blog about one recipe… we get given a months notice and the idea is to recreate & share. It is also a great opportunity to explore another blog and get some ideas!

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And this month – I got the opportunity to read through The PinterTest Kitchen blog… full of easy and hasslefree recipes.

This blog is run by 3 ladies – Sharon & her 2 daughters, Alison & Jessica – who pin their favourite recipes & then make them!! Some are successful and some are not – but they are always honest & provide some future tips for the ones to “make again”.

I um-ed & ah-ed about what to make – either their microwave potato crisps (because we all know that I am a sucker for savoury nibbles) or their one pot Italian dinner… the joys of limited cleaning up while enjoying tasty food.

And finally decided on their homemade hot chocolate – rich, creamy and oh so sinful – it was a pleasure to make (took only 15minutes) and even more pleasurable to consume!!! A perfect ending to a weekend!

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Hot Chocolate

100g milk chocolate (broken into chunks)
400ml milk
1 vanilla pod (scrapped)
marshmallows (optional)

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  • Place the pieces of broken chocolate & milk into a saucepan along with inside of vanilla pod
  • Bring to a gentle boil – stirring continuously until all the chocolate has melted
  • Pour into 2 mugs
  • top with marshmallows (I love marshmallows – but HIM doesn’t so… we had one with & one without)
  • ENJOY

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If you want to know more about The Secret Recipe club – details can be found here: http://secret-recipe-club.blogspot.com/

Chez Fleur (Vietnamese-Thai Restaurant) – Brussels

Chez Fleur on Chaussee Boondael is probably one of the most well-known Vietnamese (or some say Viet-Thai) restaurants in Brussels – and for good reason!

I got the pleasure of enjoying an evening here earlier in the week to celebrate a friend’s birthday (American Angela – who will be quite chuffed to see her name in print …again :)) along with a few others.

Decor wise – Imagine that the Palace of Versailles boudoir merged with the Louvre Museum while taking hallucinogenic drugs… yupp – fabulous with light red table lights,

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and red walls with chandeliers

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over-the-top (but fabulous) painted artwork…. in big gilt frames

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mirrors, statues and more chandeliers ….

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Did I love it? absolutely…

But the real highlight of the evening was the food. There wasn’t a single fork of food that passed my lips that wasn’t amazing! It was all tasty and had me wishing that I had worn stretchy pants!

As there were 7 of us – we decided to order 6 main plates and share – an excellent idea! And more than sufficient to go around (even for latecomers :)) – we opted for Poulet à la sauce aigre-douce (Sweet & Sour Chicken 9€); Canard de Pékin parfumé à l’Orange (Peking Duck 11,25€); Les Fruits de l’Océan Curry Vert (Green Seafood Curry 11.40€), Porc au Caramel et Poivre (Carmalized Pork with peppers 9€), Riz sautés aux Légumes (Rice with Vegetables 9.20€) and a beef dish (can’t remember… sorry… but it was delicious!)

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A few ordered desserts afterwards – and although somewhat “interestingly” presented – they all murmured happiness while diving into them before I could get out my camera fast enough.

The attention to detail is excellent – even down to the pyramids of sugar cubes served with each coffee.

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Would I return? DEFINITELY! The food was amazingly delicious, reasonably priced – staff were attentive and efficient (I wouldn’t go as far as to say “friendly” but more than sufficient) – and of course the decor is something to be seen! AND even better still – they do deliveries… which is excellent news as I could definitely see myself making use of this in the future!

CHEZ FLEUR

address:  Chaussée de Boondael 326, 1050, Ixelles, Brussels, BELGIUM

telephone: +32 02 640 0469

website: http://www.chezfleur.be

Opening hours: Monday-Sunday: 12h00-14h30 & 18h00-23h30