It’s a cliche really. As I write this post, I wonder if you as readers are aware of the totally calorie filled diet that’s possible as a visitor to Brussels. I presume you are but that’s one of the reasons I say – go there. The only surprise will be the skinny size of its citizens whom I was expecting to be massive presuming they lived off the intake of foods I ate on a day to day basis while wandering the chocolate covered streets. Let’s just say that heading home after five days was the best for the old waistline and for my ever-receding bank balance due to none other than food obsession.
Being intolerant to gluten meant that I held off on Belgian waffles for the first four days. I searched high and low for a gluten-free option however it was to no avail. This meant that when my boyfriend got a waffle from one of the street stands, I got the accompanying coffee from his order. The cost of a nutella waffle and a coffee was 6€ upwards. The streets were scattered with such stands which we made a point of comparing. Waffle stands and small cafes near to La Grand Place (the main square) were similar to the price of those further away so shopping around too much wasn’t necessary.
Following a recommendation from our Sandeman’s tour guide Fraser, we went to FritLand for our chips. With a clear warning not to call them French Fries for fear of insulting a Belgian and not being served, we ordered ‘Pommes frites’ for less than 4€. This was a massive cone of chips with a choice of standard sauces. They could be eaten in or out and were divine (especially with a Belgian beer).
Staying in a hotel that didn’t serve breakfast meant that googling Trip Advisor recommendations was vital. Heading out on our first day, we headed straight to a central street where Peck 47 lay. Its cute signage and short queue outside in the rain were more distracting than even the waffle and coffee scents wafting down the street.
Peck 47 was the only Trip Advisor place I went for. Having realised the outrageous cost compared to most cafes in Brussels and the fact I could get the food (tasty food) in several places in Dublin for less money – I followed my nose after that. Should you be a fan of a decent Eggs Benedict dish and high quality coffee, then definitely stop by. Their diet caters for vegetarians and vegans and they do breakfast, lunch and an evening diner menu. Other available treats are freshly squeezed lemonade and pulled pork in pesto (yes, really) in a sourdough sandwich.
Then there’s the chocolate. Oh yes, the chocolate. There are so many chocolate shops to choose from. You can buy pralines of all flavours, sizes and shapes throughout the city. Supermarkets and independent chocolate shops cater for a variety of budgets too. As I wanted to buy a gift and to splash out, we went to Pierre Marcolini. This is the creme de la creme of chocolate shops. The rough price point is 40€ for 30 chocolates. These cost more than the average chocolate shop due to their make-up. While most chocolate companies outsource the base of the chocolate and fill them. Marcolini sources everything from the cocoa bean to the final stage. This means they can guarantee the quality of each chocolate. I can also confirm – they are tasty.
As for the rest, you’ll see! There are so many options of foods that suit different tastes. There are typical Belgian cafes that look like they’ve been there for decades. Likewise, there are Starbucks cafes, Mc Donalds and all the usual haunts. Whatever you do, make sure you try the pommes frites.