So we had wanted to go to Le Bistro du Mail, but it was totally packed with no sign of clearing up anytime soon. (Note to self: call ahead next time!) Making our way through the neighborhood to check out the other restaurants nearby, we passed in front of Le Pavilion, which my boyfriend had always wanted to try. This is exactly the type of place my boyfriend loves: casual, cosy, with worn, unfinished wood benches and tables, and full of regulars, eating or drinking or just reading the paper. The menu reflects the atmosphere, as it offers classic homestyle dishes, no frills, for 7 - 14€ per dish. Appetizers and desserts run at about 5€, and they have the usual selection of wines and aperitifs in addition to the obligatory beers.
We arrived just as the downpour really started*, and ordered some of the Hoegaarden on tap to start with as well as a "mixed" platter of charcuterie and fromage. This ended up being a few slices of rosette de lyon served with cubes of cheddar and slices of ciabatta-shaped baguette. I was surprised to see cheddar, in cubes no less, described as a platter of cheese.
For my main dish, I had really hesitated between the fresh salmon and the fish n' dumplings they had, but in the end the waitress helped me settle on the gratin de poissons, a hearty mix of cod, salmon, potatoes, and mushrooms covered with bubbling cheese and sauce. It did not disappoint, though the mushrooms just didn't go that well with everything else.
The menu is full of all the types of meaty dishes that my boyfriend loves, so he had some hard choices to make before finally settling on the jambonneau, which was served in its own dish with mustard sauce and accompanied with steamed veggies and gratineed potatoes on a separate plate. The meat was so good that even I liked it, which is very unusual as I rarely like pork. The joint was tender and juicy, and the mustard sauce had just enough kick to be felt but not too much to be overpowering, though the boyfriend complained that it wasn't mustard-y enough. The veggies and potatoes were good as well, and while eating them the boyfriend (whose diet consists of one primary food group: meat) commented, "See, I like eating vegetables when they taste good." Profound.
Our waitress was awesome - so friendly and sweet, when clearing the unfinished cheese platter we had begun with she asked us if we didn't want to save it for after the meal. We declined, but really appreciated the thought, and she was cheerful and attentive throughout our meal. This is a cute, casual place to keep in mind if you are in Ixelles, and at the end of the meal my boyfriend concluded, "I think this is going to become my cantine."
64 rue Defacqz
Tel: 538 02 15
Open Monday - Friday
*In Brussels, dark storm clouds are always brewing, the dry periods are few and far between, and I find it even gloomier than London.