For my first night in Brussels, of course I wanted to have typical fare: mussels and fries. We went to Le Chou de Bruxelles, a cute little place not too far from the boyfriend's apartment, which offers around 30 varieties of mussels, all between 18 - 20€. My boyfriend opted for their menu, which is a good value: 25€ for 3 courses, which includes the entire menu, with only a handful of items that have a meager 2€ supplement.
He started with a casserole of seafood, which was gorgeous. Mussels, clams, shrimp, and a crawfish, with a good amount of delicious sauce at the bottom.
I ordered, of course, mussels and fries. The bib pictured at left is what the waiter tied onto me before serving us. I thought it was a joke, but it wasn't. I still took it off halfway through because I am not messy enough to justify (or suffer through) wearing a bib!
I just wanted some typical mussels, and I decided to go with the 7 herbs variety. As with the boyfriend's seafood, the quality was excellent and the mussels were really fresh. Unfortunately, I was disappointed, since the quantity of celery overpowered any of the herbs. The dish would've been better named as celery with a side of mussels. But I bet their other varieties of mussels are awesome - just stay away from the celery is all. The fries weren't that great either. While I normally wouldn't go into such much detail on a side, the fries are a crucial accompaniment to the mussels! Here, they were more comparable to doner-kebab variety fries (greasy, soft, and mushy) than the "frites" they serve at a neighborhood bistro back home (crispy and sprinkled with herbed salt - yum). Can you believe I'm saying that the brussels-style fries back home are better than the authentic brussels fries themselves? Well, it's true.
The boyfriend's main dish was the magret de canard, served with tiny bundles of endive, green beans and carrots, and ruffled potato slices. The duck was topped with cherries and looked very nice.
For dessert we shared some sorbet; after my glass of Hoegaarden and our shared bottle of Chinon, plus jet lag, this was the perfect light ending.
And now to the negatives. This was a bizarre moment when we were ordering, as my boyfriend pointed out a spelling mistake and the waiter tried to make a joke, "oh, it was an African that typed the menu." Sorry? We were both astonished. And then when we paid there was a mix up that never got resolved. To give some context, my boyfriend is somewhat disorganized and absentminded about money - he just carries a fistful of cash, credit cards, and assorted receipts and business cards in his pocket, which makes him prone to losing things. At restaurants, I scrutinize every item on the bill; he just glances at the total if he does even that. This time, he didn't, and just threw down the money he "felt" would be enough. Well, he was way off: the total was only 75€ but he put down 3 50€ bills. The waiter brings back change out of 100€, but of course there is no way to prove that my boyfriend put down 150€. I'm sure he's right - he went to the atm just before and withdrew 200€, and had only one 50€ bill left. But who would do such a thing on a 75€ bill? Stupid, stupid, stupid. Even assuming the waiter did just make an honest mistake, then that is a stupid mistake as well. Or maybe the boyfriend dropped the bill on the street after the ATM. I was more upset about it than he was - 50€ isn't something to laugh about - and I told him that I hope it taught him to 1) always check the bill and 2) use a freakin' wallet, or at least a money clip! We'll see if he ever learns...
Le Chou de Bruxelles
26, Rue Florencestraat
02/537 69 95
Closed Sunday, Saturday at lunch, and Monday at lunch