Chez Léon has been in the Vanlancker family since 1893. Grainy old photos show the original restaurant with a sign declaring ‘Friture’, but the place is famous mainly for its moules, those mussels that are accompanied so perfectly by Belgian fries. The place really took off in 1958 (the year the World Expo landed in Brussels), and Léon International has taken the moules and frites concept abroad, setting up dozens of restaurants across France, including one on the Champs Elysées.
This is a veritable institution, located on the bustling rue des Bouchers, a street jam-packed with gastronomic choices. But you can hardly miss the colourful Chez Léon exterior – it is made up of four houses knocked together.
Of course, this is Belgium, so it’s not just about the food. It’s a full-blown Belgian taverne, but not an old-fashioned ‘brown café’ – it’s bright and colourful and thoroughly modern. It offers a very wide of other traditional Belgian food, such as rabbit stewed in kriek (cherry) beer to stoemp (bubble and squeak). All of this can be washed down with Belgian beers, including their own pale and full-bodied ‘La Léon’.