It’s hard not to miss Le Poechenellekelder. Across the way from Brussels’ (in)famous statue of a urinating boy, the Mannekin Pis, this bar’s pretty façade and extensive beer menu numbering over 150 varieties present an inviting escape from the picture-taking tourist crowds.
Roughly translated as “puppet cellar”, Le Poechenellekleder certainly lives up to its hard-to-pronounce name. With dozens of large marionettes hanging from the ceilings, the cluttered yet cosy space spans two floors of weird and wacky paraphernalia, including masks, glasses, pots and pans, and several mannekin pis figurines of various sizes and colours wearing an assortment of outfits.
We found the last two remaining seats in the crowded bar, at a tiny wooden table that was already occupied by a life-sized frill-neck mannequin adorned with medals. A little disconcerting at first, the beers quickly came to our aid to ease our discomfort, and we were soon laughing about stepping on our drinking companion’s shoes whenever we shifted in our chairs.
This popular bar with its treasure trove of bric-a-brac is Belgian quirkiness at its finest. It didn’t take long at all for the cluttered, eclectic surrounds to start feeling homely, a surprisingly fitting and enjoyable setting for a late afternoon beer.
I noticed this bar across from the famous Mannekin Pis and decided to pop in for a drink or three. I’m glad we walked in as this is the weirdest bar I’ve ever seen in my life. The place was packed and as we navigated our way through the main section we found a seat next to two mannequins – a faceless military veteran and Richard Nixon’s doppelganger.
Every corner of the bar, every nook and cranny, was covered in ornaments and trinkets that you would find in a souvenir shop. There were dolls hanging from the roof, beer glasses, old bottles, horse figurines, and musical instruments including a small saxophone. There didn’t seem to be a theme for the collection but everything felt like it belonged there – I loved it!
They had a wide range of Belgian beers so I started with my first trappist beer, the Westmalle Triple – at 9.5% alcohol it definitely hit the spot! We paired this with a plate of meats and cheeses that came with some small pickles and celery salt.
We stayed for a few hours drinking more beer and when I looked around I noticed that the tourists taking photos of the walls and the sounds of English-speakers had given way to groups of locals settling in for an early evening meal. It felt comforting to know that this was not just another tourist trap, but a spot that even the locals still enjoying visiting.
Rue du Chêne, 5, 1000 Brussels