11-27-2012, 12:03 AM
I was over in Belgium for the BKS knife show in Gembloux and got to eat a couple of what i, as a rank amateur, considered to be nice meals. Yeah, I went a bit touristy on one, but I had a good time. There is a street in downtown Brussels called the Rue de Bouchers where most of the tourist trap places are located. With that said, there are still a couple of old school tradtional places that are fairly well respected, but perhaps considered a tad overpriced by the locals. i went to one, Armes Du Bruxelles. I had an appetizer of about 18 little mussels done up with "snail butter" which is to say butter, enough galric to stop a charging rhino, parsley, etc. They rocked even though this is the end of the season. For the main course, I had pheasant with a sauce that I can only describe as nutty and amazing. With some wine, dessert, etc, this little adventure set me back around 70 Euros. In contrast, I had a lovely pre fix lunch a couple of days later at the brasserie at my hotel in Gembloux than consisted of a VERY green potage of peas, a nice fish dish with a creamy sauce with onions and dessert for 8 euros plus beverage. The BEST bang for the buck that I got over there was, interesingly enough, a killer Hong Kong style seafood meal at a restaurant in Lille, France owned by my knifemaker buddy Remy Boulin's in-laws. His father in law is a classicaly trained chef who worked in both Chinese and hihg end Euro sytle joints in Hong Kong before the family bugged out before the handover. He worked in similar places in France before striking out on his own. My friend says that his place has never made much money because Chinese is still considered to be cheap, filling student fare in much of France and Papa refuses to cut corners on ingredients. I had an amazing shrimp dumpling soup, a mixed dish of about 5 different top notch aquatic critters (this from a guy from South Florida), noodles and coffee for 15 euros. I tell you, EVERYONE still has to try harder in the French speaking areas no matter what market segment you are in because you will not survive otherwise. The big eye opener was coming back through JFK and paying close to $50 for the CHEAP steak and accoutrements at the Todd English place in Terminal 2 and finding it wanting to say the least.