Cafe Botteltje should have been a paradise for me. I do enjoy a beer, or two, and if served in a characterful pub, at reasonable prices, I'm in heaven. I can appreciate little backstreet single-bar pubs just as much as I enjoy the glitzy grand-cafe places.
Botteltje was a disappointment though. It prides itself on stocking over 300 beers, with 13 on draft, and the pub itself with its gleaming brasses, polished woodwork and beer paraphernalia is easy-on-the-eye.
However immediately I walked through the door it didn't feel right. It wasn't particularly busy but there was a total lack of buzz, a bit like walking into a church funeral service between prayers. As I approached the bar an overkeen young barman asked if I was ready to order. I asked him to give me a couple of minutes whilst I worked out what I fancied.
I found the beer menu, all 30 or 40 pages of it, and started scanning through it. The barman was in my face again before I'd even gotten to page 2 and so I ordered something fairly common, probably a Leffe Blonde, which arrived promptly and was duly paid for, whilst I further investigated the menu.
I do like my beer, though I'm certainly not an expert, but the beer that I had in front of me wasn't right. It was cloudy, with a slight vinegary smell, and tasted musty. I caught the barman's eye and indicated that I wasn't happy with the beer. His curt reply was, "It's Belgian." as he turned his back on me.
I wasn't in the mood for an argument, and certainly not one in a foreign language. I had another sip of the beer just to make sure it wasn't just my first impression that was at fault, but nope it was pretty much undrinkable and so I left on the bar and took my custom elsewhere.
Pity because it is an attractive pub.
I'm not usually a big fan of hotel bars but on the couple of times I've stayed here at the Hotel Empire I've found myself having a quick beer in its cosy little ground floor lounge on my way out into town for the evening and then enjoying a little nightcap on my return.
This is one of the cheapest bars in Oostende and so attracts its little band of local regulars who are always chatty and welcoming. Because whoever is tending bar is also the hotel's duty receptionist the bar never shuts as such and so no matter what time in the morning I've gotten back there's always been customers.
On my last visit there were a couple of youngish French woman staying who treated us to an impromptu, post-midnight, pole-dancing demonstration which turned my little nightcap into a couple. The rather attractive blond receptionist joined the show, admonishing me with a sexy wink, "You can look, but this is girl's night."
"Best we all have another drink then." I replied.
Cosy Corner is definitely not my sort of pub. When I'm in Europe I expect my pubs to be European. I'm even a bit fussy about so-called "Irish Pubs" outside of Ireland and I certainly don't travel to Oostende to get an "English Pub" experience.
I've only been in once when it was rammed with drunken Brits with the big screen televisions showing the English Premiere league football highlights. Lots of shouting and amateur drinking aren't my cuppa when travelling and I didn't find the place at all welcoming. Not only that but it stank.
One to avoid IMO.
...is what the sign above the bar says and it seems to me to be adhered to. Manuscript is a friendly, buzzy, traditional bar with a good selection of beers, interesting locals and a chatty barman. It's very rock music orientated with a computer controlled juke box (for want of a better term) which the barman plays tunes on and takes requests.
I only popped in for a couple of chill-out beers early evening but it was pleasantly busy then and by all accounts they have regular live music by local performers which are popular and fun.
The Spanish Inn is an interesting building, reputedly Oostende's oldest house which was built in the 16th century and restored in 1729. As pubs go it's not my personal cup of tea, although nothing wrong with the beer, nor the friendliness of the service, I should add. I'm just not a karaoke person.
On my brief visit the place was absolutely heaving and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. The organist was particularly talented, even if some of the contributors were less so.
But if you're looking for a lively pub that's open until late then don't let me put you off.
The pub doesn't open until 8.00 pm (closed Mondays) with music starting about 9 (ish).
This is a proper little drinking pub with friendly service, a mostly local trade and relatively cheap beer. Although de Zeegeuzen (as the name might suggest) has a maritime theme the knick-knacks are more of a collection of curios and memorabilia than the kitschy stuff which you'd get from a less individualistically-run place and overall it has a pleasantly laid-back ambience.
I've only caught it once for a couple of beers when the Halloween Fair was on and so it was probably uncharacteristically busy but it's definitely on my list for a full-scale investigation during a future visit.
It doesn't open until 5 pm but it doesn't have a set closing time (tho' it is closed Tuesdays) and rumour has it that it doesn't shut until the landlord decides. It also has occasion live jazz.
THE HOSTS MIRO AND FRAN ARE THE BEST EVER. YOURE SURE OF A GREAT NIGHT OUT HERE. DONT MISS GOING TO THE COSY, OR U WILL REGRET IT. ITS A FANTASTIC FRIENDLY ATMOSPHERE WHERE YOU ALL WILL BE MADE WELCOME.
Dress Code: COME AS YOU ARE.
Dating back to the Spanish inquisition the building was founded in a unique style, remisent of the Spanish Occupation. Nowadays people come for a laugh, a drink, dancing and a singsong to live music. Starts 9pm.
Dress Code: As you like.
This a very friendly Ostend pub , plenty of Brits and locals as customers. This pub has 2 large tv screens, mainly sport with English Premier League shown. If you smoke you must go outside has Belguim has a inside smoking ban.
Dress Code: Anything . just enjoy.
The little bottle has a bewildering amount of beers and genevers to choose from, the menu is massive. This excellent bar was deservedly busy both times we visited.
Mrs Bonio pleased to find several kreik beers to enjoy and me a little like a child in a sweetie shop I guess!
Full meals on offer and very tasty snacks, cheese and mustard a favourite.
Good café, but too small and the dj's could easily be replaced, the music begins to bore lots of people and they go elsewhere.
We heard jamiroquai 4 times in 2 hours...
This café is visited by people from an age group between 16-45 years old.
You are advised to go around 22:00 because later on, there isn't much space...
Great choice of cocktails at +- €5 decorated with fresh fruit.
Lots of tourists also, english people, people from holland, ...
Crowded Friday,Saturday,Sunday,Wednesday,Thursday. It's open every day.
The 'Tex Mex' restaurant is from the same owners (left to this café). There you can eat some delicious Mexican food or pastas,...
A well known place, visited often by English people, because of the cosy atomospere, and especially because of the wide choice of beers (+300 different beers with lots of flavours - lots of them fresh from the barrel, 40 types of jenever,...). I don't like beer myself, but this is really something different, sweet fruit flavoured beers...excellent!
Open the list, you won't believe your eyes !
I like the Lambik Abricot, Lambik Banaan, Lambik Aardbij, Lambik Mirabelles beer and the 'Kriek' fresh from the barrel,but there are so much different ones, that you really have to try some more!
Dress Code: No dress code, just casual
Nice trendy cocktail bar. Stylish modern interior with light effects. Good music. Wide seats. Quick service. My cocktail was good, the other one only so-so. Prices comparable to other cocktail bars (but cocktails are overpriced everywhere). Still worth seeing.
DJ Paco plays some psychedelic combinations of reggae - french chanson - latin - ...
Can be very crowdy, one of the most popular café's in Ostend.
Places to sit inside and terrace. Somewhat older public 30-50
DJ Crazy Ray just re-opened this new pub, he mixes psychedelic alternative tunes from birdnoises to dead metal and all between. Small but alternative non-commercial place.
Also regular dj performances by DJ Sa Va & De Dju, Bricolette, ...