What’s not to love about a country with a national bread? France may have the baguette, but Belgium has the pistolet! A small crusty roll with a light and airy centre and a slit across the top, the pistolet is perfect for encasing just about any filling. This humble staple takes pride of place at Pistolet Original, a casual eatery in the Sablon serving tasty rolls in a bright, contemporary space that doubles as an épicerie, selling a range of condiments, spreads and sweets.
The menu pairs the pistolet with a range of classic Belgian flavours, including traditional sandwich fillings such as américain (beef tartare), boulettes (meatballs) and crevettes grises (grey shrimp), as well as “hot” options which include bloempanch (a Belgian blood sausage), crumbed fish, and even a pistolet hot dog. After much deliberation I opted for a recent addition to the menu, a shrimp croquette pistolet with lettuce, fried parsley and lemon. This took quite a while to reach the table, but once it did arrive it didn’t last long, it was too delicious to eat slowly!
With products sourced from top notch local suppliers, and endorsed by the likes of Michelin star chefs and a raft of Belgian personalities whose faces can be seen adorning the eatery’s walls, Pistolet Original has managed to turn a simple sandwich into a gourmet treat while maintaining a relaxed and family-run feel, making this a lovely spot for a quick and delicious lunch.
When it comes to choosing a lunchtime meal, sandwiches are usually at the bottom of my list. I find them to be a little too boring, lacking in flavour and just not filling enough for my liking. So when Bec suggested we try a sandwich shop in the middle of the Sablon, I was already thinking about which fritecot I was going to visit afterwards.
When I took a look at the huge menu written on the wall behind the counter, my eyes were instantly drawn to the boulette (meatball) sandwich, with lettuce and mayonnaise. We placed our order and sat down at the tiled communal table and in seconds it had arrived in a small wooden crate. This sandwich wasn’t your typical two-slices-of-square-bread-sandwich, or even a baguette sandwich which I’ve seen more commonly here. Instead I was given a crusty hamburger-size bun – apparently this is what a pistolet is! I took a bite and was surprised by the fluffy centre hiding inside the crispy crust. It was incredible!
With my appetite whetted and no sign yet of Bec’s order, I decided to go for seconds and ordered a tuna roll. I watched as two large scoops of the tuna salad (tuna mixed with mayonnaise and capers) were piled onto the small bun and when it arrived at the table there was so much filling inside I thought it might topple over. It was the best tuna sandwich I’ve ever had! Pistolet Original has definitely changed my mind about sandwiches. I can’t wait to come back and work my way through each of the items on the menu. Next on my list: bacon and egg, and the French toast pistolet!
Rue Joseph Stevens 24–26, 1000 Brussels