We thought it only fitting on Belgian National Day to treat ourselves to some traditional Belgain cuisine for lunch. After enjoying some of the day’s morning activites at the Place Royale, the Place de Palais and the Sablon, we made our way to the quieter streets of the Marolles for a leisurely lunch at Brasserie Ploegmans (Dutch for “ploughman”).
We were greeted by the friendliest of waiters who offered to seat the two of us at one of his last remaining tables, a four-seater, on the condition that we ate enough for four people! I must have looked worried because this got a few chuckles from surrounding tables before the waiter assured us he was only joking. Ah, obviously (!).
We were seated at a table by the open window which turned out to to be perfect for people watching and catching passers-by slow down as they looked at our dishes with obvious envy. I would have done the same in their shoes – the dishes were very generous in size and looked amazing on the plate. I ordered the Belgian classic boulettes (meatballs in tomato sauce) which were homemade and topped with a delicious herby sauce and served with a side of salad and crunchy fries. Yum!
As we walked along Rue Haute in search of a place to eat, we came across a restaurant full of locals eating large pots of mussels and fries. We’d arrived at Brasserie Ploegmans, and I swiftly ordered my first trappist beer of the day. The moules-frites were a tempting option given the fact that most the diners around us were eating this, but I had my heart set on ordering the carbonnade flamande (Flemish beef stew) which has become my go-to dish in Belgian restaurants.
My dish arrived looking very appetising in a ceramic pot with frites served on the side. The carbonnade was made with Faro beer, and looked a little lighter than previous versions I’ve tried but it smelled oh so good! Now, my test for a good carbonnade is to dip a chip into the sauce to see if it’s up to scratch. This one did not disappoint. It was easily the best carbonnade I have tasted. The others I’ve tried have either been too bitter or too sweet (almost like eating beef candy!) but the balance in this one was just right. The frites were great too, nice and golden and crunchy, a perfect accompaniment to the beef stew.
Our meal at Ploegmans is one I couldn’t fault. The food was above average and the service was excellent. I can’t think of a better way to spend Belgian National Day than to eat frites, drink beer and enjoy a good beef stew!
Rue Haute 148, 1000 Brussels