Bier Circus has changed locations since my first visit and has lost a bit of its atmosphere in favor of now having a full restaurant in front of what seems a cramped and not overly cozy pub. Still, the night we were there it was bustling and fun, and certainly not full of tourists. We had an assorted cheese platter which featured a great selection but unfortunately was so small it deterred us from eating dinner there! Still, the beer menu was fantastic, one of the best in Belgium. I had spent two days looking for beers in Ghent and Bruges, only to find them easily on their extensive list. I had the excellent t Hofbrouwerijke Bospotter which drank all too easily for its 8.5% alcohol content with a marvelous hop bitterness. Reinaert Grand Cru kept us busy until I found De Dolle Brouwers Extra Export Stout, a black wonder with tan head which had a huge dried fruit profile mixed with chicory/chocolate bitterness. It had a very slightly dry bittersweet finish. We finished up with De Cam’s tart cherry treat, Oude Kriek which managed to be dry and refreshing all in one go. A truly unfiltered beauty. As you can imagine we were having a grand time by this point and there was a group of Portuguese expats enjoying themselves so we exchanged some stories and they snapped our photo for posterity.
2000 Beers. That’s right and not a misprint. This place has 2000 different beers! With that many choices they HAVE to have some good ones, and they do. It was packed to the gills with what in the old USA would be underage drinkers. Here they were just drunk teenagers who luckily didn’t have enough money to drink as much as they undoubtedly would have tried to. Good thing I didn’t have that problem myself as I made my way hastily through an extensive and surprisingly good beer menu. They also had a great selection of cheese which despite our kebabs on the way over I decided we just HAD to dry. Perhaps the most amazing thing was the barman, who miraculously managed to sling beers to the kiddies while treating beer snobs like myself like royalty, always having the right glass and delving into his cellar to find one rare bottle after another. This was one of the few times in Europe I tipped like I was bona fide American Tourist. He was THAT good, knew it, and still managed not to show it…well, at least not in a condescending way.
Dress Code: You could probably wear a toga and get away with it in this place!
Anyway, the details: Cuqui had the Floris Chocolat, Doreen the Saison Dupont, and I finally found the De Ryck Christmas. I was a bit embarrassed to order the girly choco beer but must admit the Christmas beer was a disappointing pumpkin pie affair that was too sweet and had me scurrying quickly for Doreen’s dry saison. All the beers were quite reasonably priced around 3 Euros. The Rochefort cheese plate was 10 Euros but so massive we couldn’t possibly finish it. I’m sure the kiddies descended on it like a pack of vultures after we left. Since we’d been drinking all day, had just come from Bier Circus, had a local that was working the next day in tow, and perhaps most importantly had a train to catch the next day, my voice of reason (read wife) told me one more and we call it a night. Of course, my other voice of reason (read selfish self) ordered a 750 ml bottle of Achel Bruin which I managed to finish despite piddling help from my comrades. Oh, Doreen claims she drank it all which might explain why it took so long to get back to our B & B that night. ;)
'Lambic' is a non-malted wheat beer
- a beer naturally fermented by contamination
of wort by airborne yeasts.
This is a little caffee behing the town hall
in 'Sint-Gillis' One of the parts
of big Brussels. Why do I mention this
place? Easy it has got 700 beers to try.
(some say 700 , some 400...
Belgianchocolate did see a lot of beers
but forgot to count them. )
I recommend not to try them all at ones. ;-)
This beautiful and spacious Art Nouveau building is the perfect place to dance salsa on Sundays from 6 pm to .... (entrance fee : 6 euros, one free cocktail if you arrive before 8 pm). A lot of space, good music and good dancers.
But "La Tentation" is more than just a salsa place. It also houses the center for traditional music and dance. They organize dance and music classes (check the website for the program), exhibitions, concerts, and all kinds of other events.
"La Tentation" is also a Spanish restaurant (never tried it yet ...) and a cafe where you can just have a drink while admiring the architecture.
The Opera in Brussels is a fine tribute to the city's investment in arts and culture. The company can attract some of the world's finest performers, choreographers, set designers and conductors to work with the highly competent team based in Brussels. The programme is always varied: the 2003-2004 season offers performances as varied as Don Giovanni and The Woman who Walked through Doors.
It may not be Covent Garden or La Scala, but it certainly ranks as a fine European Opera house.
Dress Code: La Monnaie is nowhere near as stuffy as its sister opera houses across Europe. I often used to get invited at the last minute to take the placeof season ticket holders who could not use their places... I've been there seriousy dressed down, and mingled with those who were seriously dressed up! That is just fine. In fact, the cheapest tickets in the house cost ony 9 euro, and students are often admitted at the last minute free of charge.
The other wonderful thing about this opera house is that you will notice, just before the lights go down, lots of people hanging around the doors of the stalls. They are waiting to take any empty seats among the best, and this too is fine! Latecomers beware!
The one that started the hype around Place St-Gery, the first gem of designer and entrepreneur Fred Nicolay. It’s cozy and warm, it has one of the best terrace in town and its small menu is good.
Just next to it is the Roi des Belges, paying tribute to the Belgian Monarchy, an old-fashion looking Belgian café but don’t be fooled, it’s another popular bar. The upstairs part is particularly funky-looking, throwing you back to the 60's-70's and is sort of the "lounge" part of the bar (you'll see more cocktails than beer) and during the week-end, a DJ is taking control.
The third of Nicolay’s, and perhaps the more extravagant, is the Mappa mundo, a cross-over between an Irish pub, Arabic bazaar and seamen tavern, the Mappa is huge, noisy, glitzy and has a list of beer coming from all over the world!
Dress Code: No dress code really... although fashionistas are all around.
We decided to have a late drink...
But where? Finding a nice place isn't that
easy. We just had been in the matong? area.
Feeling cold (it can be cold in April)..
A coffee would be nice. When we saw
'L'amour fou' we knew this was the place.
The interior is lager , spacious ,
I wondered what it was before.
L'amour fou is open every day since 1984.
They bring you quit a large menu and I
immediately forgot about the coffee.
'coctails' with names like
'Je t'aime mois non plus (ce?pirinha)'
'Tendre passion' (pina colada)
Sans alcool et 'criminel zat'. lol.
For those who understand. (price 4,70-7,50)
In the back there are even seats , very comfi.
Going to the toilets is quit funny , I felt like
nemo. You step down in an underwater world.
The people we were sitting next to even
ordered dinner. (over 22h)It looked fine.
'Lasagne , spaghetti , sandwich...salades'
But they also got some real classic Belgian
dishes on the menu.
Even the desserts were looking inviting. :-)
A very nice spot...for an tiresome day blowout.
Do you like champagne?
The 'pullman bar' is part of the Astoria hotel
and houses a champagne bar.
If you like this fluid it is the most perfect decor
enjoy you 'coupe'.
For a long time this has been the only
'champagne bar' in Belgium.
Oh , did I mention they got 40 sorts of champagne?
Dress Code: Guess?
The Munt as we know it today is not the same building where it all started.
On this spot there used to be the “Herberge van Oistervant” where money coins were made, in Flemish those are called “munt”, hence the name.
In 1700 the last governor of Spain had a theatre built here for opera, theatre and ballet performances.
When Napoleon invaded our region this building was almost turned into a ruin because of lack of maintenance. He ordered it should be restored on costs of the city of Brussels. Architect who designed this renewed building that got inaugurated in 1819, was the French architect Louis Damesme.
After Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, Willem I of Oranje, a Dutch king, succeeded him.
For a wile he forbid any play to be performed. In 1830 he allowed for the first time “La Muette de Portici” to be performed.
It is told now that this performance had a huge contribution to the fight for independence of Belgium. It was said that after the play people rushed on the street to protest and were confronted with the army at the Martelarenplein (Martyr’s square).
A fire in 1855 destroyed the whole building and it was, don’t be surprised!, our infamous architect Joseph Poelaert (again!) who was assigned to build a new one.
In 1963 this opera was announced to be the National Opera of Belgium.
A couple of more restaurations and enlargements were made in the 80ties and 90ties.
Panoramic picture! Click on it to enjoy the full view!
Dress Code: Nowadays you don't need to dress up like it was done not even such a long time ago.
Just dress clean and even jeans might be allowed.
One uses to say that culture is pricey. I would say “not always” since I discovered this website.
Arsène50 is a last minute services for performance shows, plays, concerts, festivals... many types of events.
You would be able to buy tickets at –50% (half the price)
I’ve never used it but seems interesting. To be honest, I was never tempted to attend a perf show, for them being a bit pricey. Plus, I am more of museum freak. Now, I don’t have any excuse.
So far, website is in French and Dutch. When in, choose the language between Fr and Nl
Then on Offre du jour or Aanbod van de dag to see the offer of the day (details of the shows, locations..). In the website, they say that the offer of a given day is online the eve (6 pm) of this day. That would be better to check before, no?.
To buy the ticket, you have to go to the entry hall of Bruxelles en scène (Tuesday- Saturday: 12.30 – 16.30). Cash, Bancontact, Proton, Visa, Eurocard, Mastercard accepted.
There, you would be given a voucher that you have to present at latest 30 minutes before the show begins. That’s the condition to have a reduced price (+1 euro of commission).
Now, if you just go to Bruxelles en scène without anything in mind, sales people are there to inform about possible shows that you may be interested in.
Click here to see which cultural companies, theatres, centres participate in the system…
Dress Code: Dress code for theater, opera, concerts of nowadays :)
www.salsaweb.be (in English)
www.salsabelgique.be (only in French)
On these websites, you'll find out everything about the salsa events in Belgium : the calender of the parties, special nights, concerts, festivals, congresses ; the latest salsa news ; dance classes and teachers information, music information and so on.
The Grande place and the surrounding streets are usually busy with people till fairly late - the Light and Sound show which shows each night after dark doesnt start till midsummer ie June for a few months - but even now in May with the streets around the centre well lit the place has been still busy till late with people out eating, drinking, walking around and sight and people watching as well, or sitting around the Grand Place socialising or enjoying the night effects.
The waffle sellers seem to do a roaring trade and the Mannekin Pis still gets a good number of visitors...
Mmmm.. I was there once (in 2001), appreciated my experience though aftrewards, I have never been lucky. Each time I wanted to go there, it's always closed.. I don't really understand. Would it be possible that I tend to go there at same moment of the week, at their very closed day? I don't know.
[Update on April 2004: Bigjones told me that Plan?te uses to close at 6.30 pm but recently launched night events to introduce new artists.]
It is the place for chocoaholics... Everything there is chocolate: chocolate drink, chocolate pieces, chocolate cake... Many stuffs to treat yourself with chocolate home...
Dress Code: Would update this tip when I have more info
I know there was a room for parties.. where you can hang out... but will have to return there to be precise. After all, last time I was there was in 2002.
Well, my experience in this place was...unique. I arrived in Brussels for a VT meeting and met up with one of my VT friends of a couple of months, or so (the lovely Bigjones). Being quite late already, we decided we would like to go out for a beer, but didn't have an idea of where, and ended up at this place. She didn't know of it, although it is near her place, and I doubt she'll be back, but it made for an interesting time. While it was nice to talk and get to know each other in person after some time of chatting online, there was something distracting about the place. Was it the 100 or so witch dolls hanging from the ceiling? No. Was it the music? Not really. It was the staring guy (who later fell asleep near the door...picture to come soon). It was the guy who needed a better belt (see below under dress code...and sorry, no picture to come soon). And, it was especially the aging, self-proclaimed "rock and roller", who plays a mean air guitar, air drums, but sings horribly, and interrupted our conversation so often, we finally gave up so we could concentrate on laughing at our surroundings (hey, you can't take these things too seriously). While I would have preferred a nice, quiet place to get to know a new friend over a beer, this place gave us many experiences in such a short time that I'm sure we will remember throughout our friendship and beyond. Usually it takes weeks or months to have inside jokes with a friend...we had several in under an hour. While Bridget insists many bars in that area are the same (and they likely are) I am sure that our experience would go unmatched. If you're up for disturbing atmosphere, inexpensive drinks, and locals who will make you glad you are just visiting, don't miss the chance to check this place out!!
Dress Code: Ha ha ha...yeah, right! One old man who had to weigh over 200 kg dropped is pants at the bar...does that tell you anything? (Bridget, be glad you missed that! I wish I had!!) :-)
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