I'd fancied a light lunch. The sun was shining, and because there was still a cool chill to the early-June breeze the relatively sheltered nook of De Akker, on the buzzy Vismarkt square, was my chosen spot. I grabbed a recently-vacated riverside table and got the benefits of both sun and wind-shelter - perfect!
The menu has a bit of something for everyone, but in a kindof non-descript way, and so nothing really stood out as a "must try". I opted for the Greek Salad; there being no Salade a la Mechelen on offer.
Service, I must admit, was a bit haphazard, as the young staff seemed more interested in chatting amongst themselves than actually serving their customers, but when it did arrive It was youthfully-friendly and my beer was promptly delivered - always a good thing! I don't mind a bit of a wait for food, so long as the necessities are taken care of.
By the time my salad was served I was ready for the next beer - that's why you get the photo of the virgin salad and the beer looking virginal in the main pic.
Not quite as light as I'd expected but plenty of things happening on the plate - loads of textures and flavours, all equally delish. The only thing missing was a basket of bread. But that wasn't a problem as I begged the unfinished basket from the next-door table.
Good lunch, pleasant setting and despite the lackadaisical staff well worth dropping by, if you need that sheltered nook.
Directions: The little square not far from the High Bridge
- Food and Dining
- Beer Tasting
- Hiking and Walking
My friend and I had dinner here on our free evening after the conference ended, and were very pleased with our choice. It isn’t the cheapest restaurant in the city but we found it very good value for the quality, and quantity!
There is no English menu but the waiter (who I suspect is also the owner) was very helpful and offered to translate anything we needed help with – which I confess would have been almost everything! To save him the bother, and because it looked good value, we both opted for one of the special menus, "Wild menu 2". This consisted of:
~ an aperitif of our choice; we both chose a champagne cocktail made with a local fruit liqueur
~ an excellent starter of smoked ham, venison pâté and melon on a salad with a delicious mango dressing; this was very fresh tasting and all the ingredients worked really well together
~ a main course of venison in a well-flavoured creamy sauce with croquette potatoes and an unusual and excellent little cake of celeriac puree (I think) topped with wild mushrooms and other vegetables
~ crème brulée, served very simply and much better than the one I’d had the previous evening in Puro
~ coffee, tea or herb tea, with a selection of little biscuits and chocolate squares which we were unable to force ourselves to eat (though being Belgian the chocolate was tucked away for the next day!)
This spread cost us €45 each, with nothing to add but the service as we found the cocktail and a jug of cold water were sufficient to wash it all down (especially after the several beers we’d drunk earlier in the day!). The friendly service and pleasant atmosphere added to our enjoyment of the evening and perhaps explain why the restaurant appeared to be popular with locals.
Favorite Dish: I would be hard-pressed to choose between the wonderful starter and the unusual vegetable dish.
The restaurant describes itself as featuring French-Belgian cooking, and takes pride on offering seasonal produce. So in the spring there is an emphasis on asparagus while in autumn and winter game dishes are offered. It is open for lunch and dinner on Friday, Saturday and Sunday only, otherwise just for pre-booked groups of 15-30 people.
Address: Steenweg 8, 2800 Mechelen
Directions: Just off the Grote Markt, opposite the cathedral
Phone: 015 210245
- Food and Dining
Nightlife Spot: Zorba
In the center of this lovely city, right behind Saint Rombuldus cathededral, this most wonderful restaurant is to be found. Cosely tucked away in an inner courtyard along "Nieuwwerk", it welcomes its customers in an agreeable atmosphere, along with three other establishments. Upon entering one is immediately greeted courtiously by the friendly staff and led to one's reserved table within this very beautifully decorated establishment. Because mind you, reserving your table is advisable as this restaurant draws a large crowd of customers despite its location. During summer one can sit down on the large terrace in front of the restaurant, in view of the Saint Rombuldus tower. In short spending the evening here is sure to be a pleasant experience due to the location, the friendly service and the atmosphere in general, to which the live music attributes in no small way.
Address: Nieuwwerk 10, 2800 Mechelen
Directions: From Grand Square, keeping City Hall behind you, go towards Saint Rombuldus cathedral and turn right in front of it. About 100 yards down this street on the right is the restaurant's location.
- Food and Dining
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We had lunch here again. The salads were still tasty and fresh but the place was so dirty! There were crumbles under all of the tables and in general on the restaurant floor. And these crumbles were certainly not from one morning! I couldn't even put my bags on the floor.
Favorite Dish: The salad was good but I'm not going there again.
Trendy restaurant in the heart of the city. It's huge, all glass and very airy. With a bit of luck you're given a table with view on the river Dijle. There's also a lovely summer terrace outside, along the river.
Favorite Dish: There were four of us (VT friends!). Three of us ordered different salads, which all looked very attractive and tasted delicious. Gonnie ordered a veggie burrito and seemed very pleased, too!
Of course there were lots of other items on the menu.
Address: Van Beethovenstraat 8-10, 2800 Mechelen
Phone: +32 15 209530
- Road Trip
Many of the historic buildings which surround the beautiful open space of the Grote Markt house bars and cafes, and these make a great place for people watching both in the day time and evening. During our brief visit we found time to sample two of them. A sunny afternoon saw us slipping out of the conference for a couple of hours to do a bit of shopping and enjoy a cold beer at Den Amitié in the north-east corner, where we found a good selection and prompt friendly service. From our table we had a great view of the square and could soak up the autumn sun.
Later that evening we were back for a night-cap at Mechelse Mangerie in the south-east corner (see other photos). This was possibly our favourite of the various bars and restaurants we sampled. It had a welcoming cosy atmosphere, interesting decor (e.g. some of the seating consisted of old train seats, complete with luggage racks), and our seat in the window provided a good view out to the floodlit buildings of the Grote Markt. The local oud jenever was the perfect end to a lovely evening out.
Directions: You can’t miss the Grote Markt, and once here there are plenty of options. Those on the northern side are of course the best bet for a sunny table.
A dinner at this restaurant was included as part of the conference I was attending, and I was very impressed with the quality and by how well they coped with our large group (c. 50 people I think).
The restaurant is located in one of Mechelen’s main shopping streets, a little away from the historic centre, so seemed to attract more locals than tourists. The décor is very stylish and modern – I loved the red chandeliers and black taps in the ladies!
We were welcomed with a champagne cocktail with redcurrants in (which looked great but was a little sweet for my taste) and juicy capers and radishes to nibble on. My starter, carpaccio. was excellent, and my main dish of chicken wrapped in parma ham and filled with a tomato-based stuffing also good; however I was a bit disappointed with the crème brulée – this is usually one of my favourite desserts but although well-flavoured this one wasn’t crisp on the top, though the fresh berries that accompanied it were a nice touch. However, overall I would have to say the food was of a very good standard for a group meal of this nature, and the service, though slow at times, was friendly and organised – for instance, all the dishes came out more or less at the same time.
We didn’t have to pay for our meal as it was included in the conference fee but I think from the website that you’d pay about €45-55 for a similar 3 course meal, depending on what drink you chose to accompany it.
Favorite Dish: Has to be the carpaccio - very fresh and attractively presented
Address: Guldenstraat 20, 2800 Mechelen
Directions: In one of the main shopping streets near the Novotel
Phone: 015 336822
There are plenty of places on Grote Markt to eat and enjoy the scenery.
On one side there are fast food places like Pizza Hut, and on the other - traditional Flemish restaurants. They are good value, where you can get a good meal and drink for well under E20.
You may try a well-priced dag menu - with three courses. Just be aware that in my experience while service in Begian restaurants is generally friendly and courteous, it is usually slow since most places have only one or two waiters and they don't work for tips (which would have motivated them to move customers quickly), so if you order a three course meal, it may take you like 1.5 hours to complete it, pay and leave. I would not recommend a dag menu because of that unless the restaurant is empty, for lunch at least, or you will spend more time eating than sightseeing.
Local Flemish specialties are Waterzooi and Carbonade. Carbonade is beef stewed in beer; the result is a pleasant, slightly acidic flavor and plentiful gravy. This usually comes with fries that the Belgians dip in mayonnaise instead of ketchup - and it tastes quite good actually. Waterzooi is a thick soup with chicken, but I understand that sometimes in can be fish.
Favorite Dish: carbonade
Directions: Grote MarktAdd to your Trip Planner
We spotted this bar close to the Nekkerspoel railway station and made it our stop on the way to the football match later in the day.
Good selection of local beers on the menu and plenty of tasty food to tempt us with too.
Food tasty, friendly atmosphere, well worth a visit, we enjoyed.
Address: 23 Keizerstraat
Restaurant attached to the Het Anker brewery, they produce the Gouden Carolus beers, really enjoyed the Ambrio, food also excellent, a huge plateful of tasty ribs for me and plenty of veggie options for Mrs Bonio.
It's split into three areas, a restaurant, a drinking area and close to the bar either seemed to be ok, close to the bar for us then!
Friendly welcome and help with the menu for us, our Flemish is not good, improving slowly though.
Address: Guido Gezellelaan 49
Phone: 32 15 287 144
We left the hotel around 9 on a sunday night, after a long walk around the town centre we kind of left it too late for most places. So we found this lovely little chinese open and we had a great meal.
We had a nice revolving table so could swap food around with ease to try several different dished that we each had choosen. The meals was fantastic, the servce was great and we was pleased that we had stopped off for food.
Directions: Need the big town centre with the underground parking and huge stunning buildings
Most of the dishes are prepared with one of the local brewed beers. They call it a beercuisine.
In the restaurant you find many historic beer stuff, old machines, old merchandising and so on.
The downside is, that the restaurant is getting too populair, and they can't really deal with that amount of custumers. When we visited here in 2006, with Dannie and Rudy, the restaurant was filled up to its limits. They forgot to cook our maincourse and we had to wait for a long time. That is not very difficult in good company and with the beers, but it was not good. And when we got the bill there were several drinks from other tables (5 in total) on it. We knew for sure, because we didn't order coke or other soda (this is a brewery......)
Ofcourse we didn't have to pay for it, but if we hadn't pay attention to the bill it would have cost us over 10 Euro.
Favorite Dish: Try a vispannetje, a dish with different kinds of fish prepared in a Gouden Carolus Triple sauce.
Address: Guido Gezellelaan 49 , 2800 Mechelen
Phone: 015 287 144
This restaurant might not look appealing when you passe by...I just want to say , give it a shot.
The place has been here for years and looks a bit old fashioned. So is the food and that is what I like. No fusion things , no modern foetsy tootsy...just honest plain good food.
This restaurant has two parts . Where you enter is an ordinary 'frituur' , a tipical belgian place where they sell fries , sauces and tipical belgian snacks.
In the back on the left is the door to the restaurant part... a large spacious room with wooden pannels on the wall.
The service is a bit shy and intimate , the audience not the best mannered , but the food is absolutely great...
Favorite Dish: They got a really cheap menu : often 4 courses for less then 17 euro , dessert included.
-Mechelse koekoek with glaceed succory
I chose the suggestion...back of a hare with applesauce , peppersauce , fries and cranberrysauce (15,50 euro)
Address: onder den toren 4 , 2800 Mechelen
Directions: Near the 'sint-romboutstoren' , not far from the 'grote markt' , almost in front of the postoffice
Phone: 015 20 23 93
- Food and Dining
It has over 400 Speciality Beers. The place is long and dark with pleasant, ethnic (Celtic, Folk) background music. It backs onto the river Dijle. Den Stillen Genieter is open from 8pm until "last customer" each day; food is available throughout this time.
Address: Nauwstraat 9 (Vismarkt)
The food in this restaurant was great but the fact that they don't have a non smoking area, and we had to sit outside to escape the other guests smoke, was not good.
Luckely it was not very cold when we were there.
So be sure it is good weather and then book a table outside, or sit inside and smoke away......
Address: Nieuwwerk 11, Mechelen
Directions: Behind the St Romboutscathedral
Phone: 015 345340