This is in Ieper and is a homey country style pub, the kind of place warm and welcoming on a cold, damp dreary day. It is set back from the street by a narrow alleyway that opens into a nice size courtyard that makes you feel as if you really are out in the country. The place seems crammed with bric-a-brac a bit like an English pub. There’s even a cuddly cat to warm up your lap!
Favorite Dish: We opted for the special of the day as it happened to be the perfect warming dish of Stooverij, a stew made of beef in a thick gravy generally infused with beer and in this case prunes. It was served in a large pot from which you could take as much as you liked. On the side was an equally large portion of frites, Belgium’s notoriously crispy fries or chips depending on which side of the Atlantic you reside. Having downed quite a few heavy beers the night before in Bruges and with Westvletteren ahead of us later that day, we opted for a refreshing Boon Oude Kriek, a fantastically tart pink beer made with 300 grams of cherries per bottle! We followed it up with Cantillon’s acidic 100% Gueuze. They were a perfect accompaniment to the delicately sweet but gamey meal.
This is a very modern pub that would not normally grab my attention and in fact was the location of an old pub that went by the same name but had been long since closed. Roeselare is not exactly a big tourist stop and only the intrepid beer enthusiast is likely to make his way here. It is home to the Rodenbach Brewery which makes perhaps the most authentic of Flemish Red Ales, their marvelously tart Grand Cru. It is not designated the brewery’s flagstaff pub but they have a very special beer called Oud Belegen Foederbier, an even rawer un-carbonated version of the acidic Grand Cru served via hand pump.
Favorite Dish: Needless to say, there was very little that could have possibly followed an excursion to Westvletteren but if there was an icing for that cake, the stage was set. I ordered two of the rare Foederbiers and was quite relieved when the waitress went off to get them since I had imagined many times that I’d be told that the beer was no longer being brewed. Well, it was and was even being served earlier that day but had run out before we got there. We had to settle for a regular Grand Cru (3.50 Euros) which on any other occasion would have been a perfect ending just the same. As it turned out, it was a very refreshing end just the same and went well with a smoked salmon over salad combo (9 Euros).
This is not the most atmospheric of monastic restaurants and in fact looks a bit like a German Autobahn rest stop but it is quite large and serviceable. Surely, they get their fair share of buses and it’s probably well thought out in that respect. With high ceilings and ample seating it is certainly a pleasant enough place to sample the wares of the most traditional of the Trappist order.
Favorite Dish: What the place lacks in distinction it surely does not in quality with regard to beer and food. We started off with a pairing of their most simple cheese with the Blond, an unfiltered golden beauty with a hoppy bouquet. Its initial sweetness disappears immediately into an intensively bitter beer that finished supremely dry. We followed it up with some salami and their 8, a ruddy dark brew with a dense tan head. This dangerously drinkable beer started bitter but balanced nicely with dried fruit in the strong malt presence. Our last beer was the divine 12, a big barley wine with dried fruit and obvious alcohol in the forefront that finished nonetheless bittersweet in the drying finish. There is also a small shop where you can buy a limited amount of beer to go as well as cheeses including their Port Salute which unfortunately is not served in the pub. I think next time I’ll buy some of this and just eat it there as it would be an even better match to the contemplative brews. By the way, these beers are quite hard to come by in the rest of Belgium and you will pay a premium price if you do. By contrast, the Blond here is only 1.45 Euros and even the supreme 12 is a mere 2.15 Euros! It is even cheaper to go but you must call ahead to get cases and even then only two per license plate. You can get one six pack per person at the small shop as well.
In de Vedre is a great cafe located right accross the street from the Monastery. Here you can sit down and eat while you drink some of the Westvleteren three types of beer; the Blond (5.8 %), the Bruin 8 (8%) or the Bruin 12 (10.8%). There is a small museum called the "Claustrum" attached to the restaurant. Here you can see what the day to day life is like in the monastery.
In de Vrede is located across the road frokm the St Sixtus abbey. They sell the products of the abbey. Which are not many, but they are good. Do have something to eat with your beer, because some of them are strong.
After you tasted the beer you can also visit the claustrum, there you can see how the monks live. Entry is free.
Favorite Dish: The bread with pate goes very well with the beer. If you are not a meat person, the cheese is good, it has a strong taste.
Here they do not serve full meals, but only snacks. These mainly consist of local products, often from the abbey. One should at least have bread with abbey cheese or one of their specialty croques.