After the Waffle snack (or should I call it a meal?), I went walking about the sidestreets back to my hotel. I am liking Brussels more and more. Oh yeah, it drizzled the afternoon I was there but this is nothing to me because Vancouver at this time of the year rains like there’s no tomorrow anymore. Talking about rain, did you know what the record for continuous days of rain in Vancouver is? 28 days! Oh yeah … 28 days. So, this is like a sunny day to me. :-)
Let’s see … ah … Belgium is famous for it laces. I don’t care much for laces but they look very nice. I bet Suanne would love to have one of the nice lacy blouses. Know how much they cost? 150 Euros! Gosh! BTW, one need to be careful these days buying these lacey products … many of them are manufactured in China … caveat emptor.
Of course, the other famous product from Belgian is, what else, Belgian Chocolates. There are so many chocolate stores here. Some of the names I could recognize were Guylian, Godiva, and Neuhaus but they are so many others. Most of the chocs are so expensive … and some are so pretty that I will not be able to force myself to eat them.
There are also Chocolate Truffles. That little box costs about 9 Euros … $12USD / $14CAD.
Like the Latin Quarter in Paris, there is a street that has a huge concentration of restaurants. I just bumped into this place and oh yeah, perfect … this is where I am gonna have my dinner. Each of them have sign boards that describes their fix price menu. If you end up ordering what is on the board, you’ll be OK. Once inside, they have a “better” menu which could cost a lot more.
Competition is so tough here that they have people standing outside the door trying to get every passerby to go in. They are friendly and polite, don’t get me wrong and can take no for an answer. I like Belgians.
If I am not mistaken, this place is called the Beenhouwersstraat / Rue des Bouchers. This is the place where there is a female version of Manneken Pis. Can’t find it … shoot!
until I came across the Chez Leon. Oh wow … that is on the list of places I wanted to go and it is here right in front of me without me looking for it. I even stopped to double check against my travel guide to make sure this is the real McCoy. Yup, it is!
Mussels in Brussels … Brussels is also famous for their Mussels with Fries and this 110 year old restaurant is the place to have them; well, at least for tourists anyway. I was actually quite elated having found this place. The atmosphere is exactly what I find it so “relaxed” and “at home” — I can’t really explain it but I think you know what I mean.
The restaurant is bustling with customers and the waiters and all worked at such brisk pace. The walls are tiled, there are bright neon lights even indoors, and paper table cloth. It has such an informal setting with great food. I was already drooling walking past the other tables.
I am not a fan of beer but hey, I am in Belgium and it’ll be a waste not to have Belgian Beer. In this small country, there are 150 breweries producing about 500 standard beers. With so much beer, is it normal for a Belgian to go without water in a day and drink only beer? I am just curious.
I ordered the house beer — the la Leon. It is pale, full-bodied and specially concocted to go with Chez Leon’s Mussels. This beer is not served anywhere else, only in Chez Leon. This is great, I like this beer. 3.50 Euros.
Chez Leon is a large restaurant with many different dining rooms. In each of the dining rooms, there is a central table where they cut up FRESHLY BAKED baguettes. Oh wow, and it is just right in front of me. I asked them for extra baguettes … not exactly sure what it is but I sure love baguettes since I got to Europe.
Yes siree, it sure was good. The thin crust splinters all over the table and myself as I break them. It was a mess but to me, it’s a sign of a great bread. I had three baskets of bread in all … and it’s all you can eat baguettes too.
Although their signature dish is the Mussels and Fries, they do have a lot of other seafood dishes. Check out their mouth watering dishes here.
There were so many ways they serve the mussels — there is even a version with curry! I asked the waiter which is the most popular and he told me it is the Moules Meridionnales (Meridional Mussels) which costs 23.85 Euros. So, “Moo Me-ri-dio-na-lay” was what I ordered (is the pronunciation correct?). This is described on the menu as Mussels in onion, tomato, garlic, parsley, herbs from Provence and … fries “at will”.
The pot of mussels is huge (well, all Belgian servings I find are huge). They even gave me two large plates to place the shells. I looked at it and told myself … gosh … this is a lot of work!
In Vancouver, I love the Mussels from Chambar (see my old blog entry here) where the mussels are bigger and fleshier. Hmmm … Brussel’s mussels are half the size we get in Vancouver. They are delicious though.
Like I said, there were a lot of mussels. I used my fingers to hold the shell and by the time I was done, my finger tip was all “wrinkly” … you know, just like what you get after swimming for a hour? It was that much mussels.
The best part is the soup. Oh man … I took my own sweet time finishing every drop of it. It was great dunking the baguette into it … absolutely delicious.
It was a great meal and I enjoyed it a lot. This is highly recommended for everyone who vacations in Brussels. The service was quick and polite which adds so much enjoyment to a great meal.