In the spirit of spending my hoarde of Hilton points and enjoying cheap train fares, we headed to Brussels for a quick visit of about 36 hours. Unfortunately, when big day arrived, Darren was suffering with a cold, and I was well on my way to doing so. Even so, we did our best!
After checking in at The Conrad, we headed towards the Le Grand Place, a UNESCO Hertitage site and most famous square in Brussels, in search of lunch. We stopped off at nearby Chez Leon for some moules frites. Chez Leon is large, with a capacity of 900. On my last visit to Brussels in August 2008, it proved a
far better culinary offering than many of the restaurants around it, and the very efficient service didn’t hurt either.
Full of lunch, a hat purchase, and a bit of a wander later, we headed up the hill to the Museum of Musical Instruments. I particularly liked this museum because one is given a wireless headset through which you can hear the instruments in the cases in front of you being played. I thought this was a really nice complement to seeing the instruments themselves. It’s a good sized collection of 7,000 pieces.
After seeing all those instruments, we were ready for anap and more Lemsip, but a bit of pleading allowed for a stop at the Musee Magritte, part of the Royal Museums of Fine Art. This is more of an art collection, with supporting biography, where as the more biographical Rene Magritte Museum remains at Magritte’s home in Laeken.
As we were both suffering from colds, we headed back to the hotel for a bit of a rest before dinner around the corner at Bosquet 58, which we found in our guidebook. Bosquet 58 (58 Rue Bosquet) is a tiny, family-run restaurant, which serves simple dishes done well. Darren had steak frites while I had chicken and couscous before headng home to rest up.
The next morning, we partook in hotel brunch and had a late start , checking out at one, full of cold medicine. We headed back to Le Grand Place in search of the behemoth Christmas fair mentioned in our guidebook, but had somehow managed to miss the prior day. This time, we found it, only it was much smaller than expected, just a
set of stalls around the Bourse; however, there may have been more near the skating rink at Ste. Catherine. We also stumbled into J. Dandoy, famed for its cookies, of which we bought many plus a ginger cake that was very reminiscent of a ontbijtkoek.
Having acquired the all important Christmas decoration from the fair and gingerbread from , we enjoyed an excellent lunch at the lovely Le Brasserie de la Roue d’Or (Rue des Chapeliers 26 Ilôt). We really enjoyed our food here, and it’s just a pretty place to eat; the ceiling is painted with a sky,
clouds, and birds of paradise. I had more moules frites (right)
After lunch we found ourselves with a few hours until our 2030 Eurostar, and no desire to visit the museums of beer or chocolate. Thus, I took Darren to what ended up being one of my brother’s and my favorite places on my last visit here, Au Bon Vieux Temps. This tavern feels like a local spot, despite being smack in the middle of a touristy area, possibly because it is down a small corridor from the street. The panelled interior and the stained glass windows make this a very cozy bar, and the patrons are a mix of old and young. The beer list is short but good.
A few rounds later, we wrapped up, collected our bag from the hotel, and headed back to London.
You can view all of these places on our Brussels Google Map.