Brussels Dining: The Magnum and The Grapevine


In our regular Brussels Dining articles James Drew samples two bar-restaurants for us this month.

The Grapevine
Takes me back, remembering how The Grapevine used to be, and considering how much better it is now.

Some 16 years ago, when I first experienced the delights of Brussels, I had already made Place du Luxembourg my social arena, but my visits to The Grapevine were occasionl. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t that I didn’t like it, per se, but as a good friend of the time (sadly no longer with us) said: “Every night is amateur night in here.”

The bar was pretty much the main stomping ground for Brussels’ many stagiaires and, with the exception of a few bar snacks, there was no food.

Fast forward to 2010, and there was a new boy on the block, Paul Vanderpass. A former policeman, he had big ideas for The Grapevine, and he quickly set about putting them into practice. Hand-picked, excellent staff, very pretty girls, all very friendly. A genuine bill of fare, with monthly suggestions, an all-you-can-eat Indian buffet and a plat du jour at the very reasonable price of €12.50, including soup, all provided by a first-rate chef.

Best bar in town? It comes pretty damn close to being.

Magnum was one of the key series of the eighties, in which Tom Selleck played a detective who was famous for his mustache, his floral shirts and Ferrari. For those who like their wine, a magnum is a ‘double’ bottle, coming in at a litre-and-a-half of the good stuff. And, now, Magnum is also the name of a brand new wine bar and restaurant in Uccle.

In replacing their restaurant that went before it in the same location, ‘Le Copeau’, brothers Mathias and Gaspard Vosswinkel, a gourmet duo, have taken their baby in quite a different direction.

I plumped for the scampis, which were absolutely delicious, with a cream and mustard sauce that was to die for and Catherine chose the tarte tatin endives, which she said was offset beautifully by its goat’s cheese sorbet combined with the sweetness of the caramelized endives. All complemented very well by the excellent cabernet sauvignon, chosen from the extensive (and completely bio) wine range, we were then all set for our main courses – and they did not disappoint, either.

Magnum has only limited covers, a quite deliberate move on the part of Mathias and Gaspard. Mathias explained: “We really wanted to make it a bar-restaurant that you would truly feel comfortable with.”