Steak and stoemp in Brussels


Rich & Classic Steakhouse

Not like me, to go two years without noticing an enticing steak house right on my doorstep, but that is exactly what I did with Rich & Classic Steakhouse. So, I was keen to make up for lost time.

Run with a tender, matronly touch by Greek-born Efi, the ambience is relaxed and informal, but with a decidedly chic air. For entrée, I plumped for calamars frits with tartare sauce (immaculately cooked, with a pleasingly light salad), while my better half chose tomato and mozzarella with pesto and rucola and was most impressed with its intriguing salad dressing.

Next up, it was America’s finest Black Angus beef all the way, an entrecote cooked to perfection, while my lady fair opted for the beef tenderloin filet pur. We both could not have been happier with our steaks, though it was noticeable that les frites had come from a freezer bag which, given the quality of the meat on offer, will hopefully be changed to home fries ‘ere long.

No matter – the delicious meal, accompanied by an excellent South African shiraz, was beautifully rounded off with profiteroles. Rich & Classic has been awarded the coveted certification from the US Department of Agriculture, and long may it continue as one of Brussels’ finest meat emporiums.

Chez Léon

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’. And the food is free for kids under the age of 12 accompanied by their parents.