This cosy restaurant not far from La Bourse in the centre of Brussels takes its name from a French phrase meaning “end of the century”, often used to signal the beginning or end of an era. It’s a fitting name for this popular spot, which embraces old-fashioned values while remaining current for the latest generation of discerning diners.
Their old-school approach means they don’t take reservations and only accept payment by cash. They don’t have menus either – the regularly-changing selection of dishes are listed by hand on a giant chalkboard by the bar. The lack of a fixed menu ensures a focus on using the freshest produce and encourages return visits by patrons keen to sample the latest variations on Belgian classics such as carbonade à la flamande (Flemish beef and beer stew), stoemp et saucisses (sausage with mashed vegetable), lapin à la kriek (rabbit in cherry beer) and chicons farcies (stuffed endives in beer sauce). There are also several options for those not in the mood for traditional Belgian fare, including pasta, steak and ribs, as well as some more exotic choices like tandoori chicken and chile con carne. No matter what you choose, you can be assured of a wholesome, hearty meal with the chances pretty high it will be accompanied by a generous dose of beer sauce. I opted for the carbonade cooked in Chimay, a trappist beer, which was flavorful and filling.
Fin de Siecle’s no-frills approach extends also to its seating, with communal tables encouraging a friendly and convivial atmosphere. The only drawback is that it provides the optimal conditions for food envy – surrounded by so many seats in close proximity, it’s hard not to take in the sights and smells of the many mouth-watering dishes you could have/should have ordered. I spotted a giant ham hock making its way to a nearby table. I’ll definitely be back to give that a try.
Want your date to think you’re hip? Head to Fin De Siecle.
We’d heard the wait for a table can be very long, which is all part of the experience: waiting next to an old funky cash register and having your beer served by a bearded man while soaking up the atmosphere and watching the dining hipsters inhale their food. In my short time in Brussels, I have never seen so many good-looking people in the one place. We got lucky on a Sunday night and were seated in just a matter of minutes, next to a lovely British couple. The communal tables make it easy to start a conversation with those sitting around you, even if they’re complete strangers.
The menu changes regularly and is hand written on the chalkboard behind the bar. I ordered the stoemp saucisses de campagne (sausages served with mashed potatoes). The dish arrived and I was greeted by a mountain of food swimming in a pool of rich gravy, simply amazing! I soaked all the juices up with the supplied bread and remembered how much I loved simple food.
On a cold rainy night in Brussels, this restaurant with its wonderful atmosphere, simple delicious food, beautiful people and attentive staff is the place to be. The restaurant next door does a roaring trade from all the people who can’t be bothered waiting in line, but don’t make that mistake. Do yourself and your date a favour and grab a beer by the old cash register while you wait for a table – you can thank me later.
Fin de Siecle
Rue des Chartreux 9, 1000 Brussels