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RESTAURANT OF THE WEEK
A PERSONAL REVIEW OF RESTAURANTS AROUND THE WORLD

L'AUBERGE DES CHAPELIERS
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM

We actually happened upon this place by accident and I'm glad it turned out that way.  We had intended to dine at a place called Brasserie de la Roue dOr because it is famous for Belgium's national dish -- stoemp.  However we were quickly turned away at the door of this jam packed restaurant by an extremely rude head waiter.  In fact he gestured us out of the place muttering something hostile in French.  So we continued to stroll around until we found a place that looked good. 

While I go to a restaurant mainly for the food and pay less attention to the "atmosphere," the tightly packed, three story L'Abuerge des Chapeliers restaurant was more than interesting.  The stairs leading up to the second level where we dined were tiny.  You could tell that this place was old.  Our server said the building that houses it was at least 150 years old.

The L'Auberge des Chapeliers is just off the Grand Square in Brussels, one of the finest squares in all of Europe.  And I was delighted to see stoemp on the menu.  Stoemp is a dish consisting of finely chopped vegetables, mashed potatoes and a meat of your choice. While I can't swear on this, I suspect my dish had chopped cabbage and perhaps cauliflower in it.  I had mine with Belgian sausage and it was pretty good.  My wife pronounced it "so so" but she's not as adventurous as I am.  While stoemp is the national dish, the people of Brussels absolutely die for mussels.  There is much talk about the upcoming seasonal batch and how nice, plump and juicy they will be.  So I had to try some fresh mussel soup before my stoemp and the soup and mussels were incredible.  The broth alone would have rated a perfect 10.  Ironically "Belgian" mussels don't even come from Belgian waters!  They're taken from the nearby Netherlands. 

In addition to steomp and mussels, Belgians love their frites.  French fries to us!  While they were certainly good, McDonald's doesn't have to worry about the competition, in my opinion.  And in Brussels you eat your French fries with mayonnaise and  not  catsup.

Cindy did notice one odd thing on the menu.  Odd to us, anyway.  Horse steak!  We were told that it's a very popular dish in that part of the world.  Taking the train through the Belgium countryside and seeing all the horse farms I couldn't help but wonder if they were for recreation or the table.

Belgium is famous for beer and having sampled a few local brews, I'll admit that it is some of the best in the world.

They don't have a web site but the restaurant is located at Rue des Chapeliers 1-3.  Their phone number is
02/513-73-38.  Reservations are recommended.  Prices are fair!

ADDITIONAL RESTAURANT REVIEW FROM BRUSSELS:

La Belle Maraichere


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