The focus of our recent day trip to Antwerp was not sightseeing or diamonds, but rather where we should stop for lunch. When I stumbled upon the website for De Bomma Restaurant, inviting the visitor to “Come and sample Grandma’s cooking!” I was immediately drawn in.
We made our way to the Suikerrui, just off the Grand Place towards the River Scheldt, to find the outdoor terrace full of diners making the most of the sunshine. But I was keen to experience the cosy interior so we ventured inside for a seat in the main dining room which we practically had to ourselves. Featuring pale blue walls with white timber panelling and patterned wallpaper, the decor was fresh and fun with a homey feel.
Paying homage to traditional Flemish comfort food, De Bomma successfully pulls off the “eating at grandma’s” theme. The menu allows you to customise your meal by combining your choice of meat, seafood or stew with a selection of potato and vegetable sides, and sauces. I opted for a double hit of gratin goodness, with the gratinated fish stew and a side of gratin dauphinois (layered potatoes baked in cream, butter and cheese). The stew was generously packed with fish, prawns and scallops in a rich creamy sauce topped with stretchy melted cheese, matched perfectly by the creamy baked potatoes – comfort food at its best.
As we walked into De Bomma restaurant the first thing I noticed was all the framed photographs of women covering the walls – everywhere I looked there was a portrait of a grandma staring at me. The placement of the photos seemed very random and the frames were of different styles and sizes, there were even some huge black and white photos that looked over a hundred years old. This made me very curious about what to expect from this restaurant. But I needn’t have worried – I was pleasantly surprised.
The menu of hearty Belgian classics offered a selection of simple mains with a range of side dishes to accompany them. I chose my go-to Belgian dish, carbonnade (beef stew) made with Maredsous beer. This was the best carbonnade I’ve had yet. It was ridiculously good and it’s going to be hard to top. Presented in a large black casserole, the serving could easily feed two people. But a dish this good would be too hard to share! The potato gratin was delicious too – we quickly emptied the dish even though our waitress had insisted it was large enough for us to share. She obviously doesn’t know us very well! But this was easily rectified by an order of potato croquettes to accompany what was left of our mains.
I needed to stand up after that epic meal so I walked up to the bar and struck up a conversation with the barman. He told me that the photos on the wall are of the grandmothers of De Bomma’s customers. If you provide the restaurant with a photo of your grandmother, De Bomma will supply the frame and hang her up on the wall. In return you get a free cocktail from the bar. We’ll definitely be back here – not only is the food just too good, I’ll also have two free cocktails waiting for me when I bring in my grandmothers’ photos…
Restaurant De Bomma
Suikerrui 16, 2000 Antwerp