Hi! My name is Stephanie Zonis, and welcome to the June, 2001
edition of "For Chocolate Lovers Only". Each month,
you'll find recipes, tips, and recommendations on chocolate
specialties. Happy Father's Day to all of you Dads out there!
Where to Stay and Eat in Luxembourg and Belgium:
First off, I cannot reproduce any French punctuation marks on
my computer, so please forgive their omission! Some notes on
restaurants in Luxembourg and Belgium: many close Sunday and/or
Monday, for at least part of the day. Additionally, many are
open only for specific periods for lunch and dinner, but are
closed for the remainder of the day; where this is the case,
opening time for dinner is often 7 pm or later. Portions tend
to be vast, even for something like a salad, and "low fat"
is emphatically not the Belgian way! It is incredibly helpful
to be able to speak even a little bit of French in Luxembourg
and in many Belgian cities, especially if your vocabulary extends
to food. If you have a serious problem with cigarette smoke,
make certain you ask in advance about a non-smoking section.
Some places don't have them at all; in others, the "section"
is merely a row of tables directly adjacent to the smoking area.
Service is usually more leisurely than in American restaurants;
many Europeans tend to linger over their meals. Not all places
accept credit cards, so be prepared.
(all establishments are in Luxembourg City):
--Le Chatelet (aka Auberge le Chatelet). Boulevard de
la Petrusse 2. Phone: 352 40 21 01. A pleasant 10 to 15 minute
walk from both the old city center and the train station, this
hotel is along a residential street. My room was the largest
single I have ever seen (I have been in smaller studio apartments
in New York City). Very comfortable and quiet, with a nice staff.
Breakfasts, included in the room rate, are buffet-style, extremely
generous, and very good.
Rue du nord 15. Phone: 352 22 99 36. I ate in the downstairs
bar/café here, as the restaurant was closed for lunch
on Saturday. My Tartiflette de Reblochon was an enormous portion
of a gratinee of onions, potatoes, cream, and Reblochon (an
excellent cheese), so hot it was still bubbling when it arrived
at my table. Several kinds of cured, sliced meats and whole
grain bread were served with the dish, which was incredibly
rich but very tasty.
Nobody warned me before I went to Luxembourg that the country
is very famous for pastry. A large number of patisseries are
here; many have branches that can be easily found by strolling
through the various streets that make up the place d'Armes.
The best shops I found were Namur and Oberweis.
An der Bakens was also good, as was Cam. Grandjean.
I thought much less of Kaempff-Kohler and Arens Scheer.
I was unable to try both Wenge and Table du Pain.
Note also that it is not uncommon for these patisseries to also
have their own lines of chocolates.
Belgium (all establishments are in Brussels):
--Arlequin. Rue de la Fourche 17-19; phone: 02 514 16
15. I stayed here for only one night, as a result of a 24 hour
work stoppage by train employees that meant I couldn't get to
Luxembourg for a day after landing at the Brussels Airport.
The location, just a short walk off the Grand-Place, is terrific,
and the staff is attentive and helpful. My single was quite
modest, but fine for a one-night stay, and this hotel is far
less expensive than many in the area.
Welcome. Rue du Peuplier 5; phone: 02 219 95 46. This tiny
hotel is written up in most guidebooks. I am quite likely the
only person who has ever had a problem with this place, but
the problem was serious enough that I only stayed for one night.
When I arrived, my room was not ready. This was not the fault
of the proprietors in the least; the electricians and phone
company workers supposed to show up that day had not done so.
As a result, I was put into an annex across the street, half
of a duplex. This arrangement was only to be for one night,
as the place had no phone. The annex was beautiful and quite
large, but the hot water had quit by 10:30 pm (the pilot light
for the water heater had gone out, and one of the proprietors
had to come over to re-light it). Worse still, when I tried
to sleep that night, street noise kept me awake until after
3 am. I was promised another room in the main hotel the next
day, but that room faced a similar sidestreet off the same plaza,
and I wasn't about to wait around to see if the overdue workers
were going to show up so that the new room would have electricity
and a working phone. To her credit, the desk clerk that morning
helped me find another hotel and promised that my bags would
be sent over to the new place. Unhappily, it took Hotel Welcome
over 4-1/2 hours (and three requests from me) to get my bags
to my new room, which was all of a 7 minute walk away from them.
Rue du Vieux Marche-aux-Grains 30; phone: 02 502 60 06. I was
immensely pleased with this hotel. For starters, they took me
with no notice at all when I had a problem at Hotel Welcome.
The front-desk staff answered my innumerable questions patiently
and politely, and they were always genial. The location is wonderful:
less than a 10 minute walk to the Grand-Place, about a 7 minute
walk from the nearest metro stop, and close to many restaurants.
My room, which faced an inner courtyard, was very quiet and
comfortable. Though a single, it was large enough for a double
or queen bed (not sure which), a minibar with television on
top, two nightstands, two plush chairs, a desk, and a small
separate area with a bathroom on one side and a closet on the
other. Breakfasts, included in the room rate, were good and
plentiful. In addition, I was given a substantially discounted
room rate for a long stay, even though I had not reserved in
Here I must apologize to you. I had meant to try as many good-sounding
restaurants in Brussels as was possible. But I made so many
day trips to other cities; after a long day of sightseeing (and
trying chocolate), it was usually all I could do to go out to
dinner in the immediate area of the Atlas Hotel. Anyway, here's
what I found
Truite d'Argent. Quai au Bois a Bruler 23; phone: 02 219
95 46. A small but rather elegant establishment; I would recommend
advance reservations during tourist season or on a weekend.
The food ranges from good to excellent. I particularly enjoyed
the delicious magret du canard fumee and the assortment of red
fruits served with ice cream. Service can become increasingly
brusque as the place fills up.
The du Pekin. Rue de la Vierge Noire 16-24; phone: 02 513
46 42. Just on the outskirts of the Asian quarter of Brussels.
Brisk but not unpleasant service and a large menu from which
to choose. I can recommend the noodle soup with roasted duck--an
large bowl of broth containing good-sized chunks of duck, thin
noodles, and greens.
Paon Royale. Rue du Vieux Marche-aux-grains 6; phone 02
513 08 68. A terrific little neighborhood café. Unlike
many more formal restaurants, this place is open many hours
daily from Tuesday through Saturday (closed Sunday and Monday).
The interior can be smoky, but the food is solidly good and
portions are large. The salade du marche was a huge plate of
several kinds of lettuce, endive, tomatoes, cucumbers, hard-boiled
egg sections, carrots, olives, and sprouts that looked as if
it had been put together mere moments before it came to my table.
Decent frites, too. If you're in luck and it's not too crowded,
maybe the house dog will come out to meet you. In nice weather,
tables are often put up on the adjoining Place Ste. Catherine.
Clara. Rue Antoine Dansaert 22; phone: 02 502 09 90. This
establishment served the best food I had in Brussels, period.
A generous nonsmoking section with adequate ventilation, and
the fact that the place is open every day for lunch and dinner,
are real pluses. Definitely more expensive than some, and probably
not the best place for kids. The interior is sleek and modern,
but not jarringly so. What to order? Croquettes aux legumes
et herbes (vegetable croquettes with very creamy interiors),
ravioli de canard et Parme consomme aux champignons des bois
(a broth of wild mushrooms with three duck-and-prosciutto filled
ravioli), or langoustines aux poireaux au beurre de l'orange
et la vanille (langoustines in clever leek "bundles"
in a delicious orange and vanilla butter sauce with crisp fried
leeks or shallots atop) are all good bets. For dessert, try
the mango and coconut mousse. Portions are actually human-sized
here. Textural contrast, creativity, and presentation are important
to the chef, but seldom at the expense of taste. Good service,
too. Reservations would be a good idea if you go during high
tourist season or on a weekend.
de Linkebeek. Rue du Vieux Marche-aux-grains 4; phone: 02
512 35 10, between the Eglise Ste. Catherine and the Atlas Hotel.
Stand with your back facing the opening of the church, and this
place will be up the street on your left. This isn't really
a restaurant at all. It's a cheese/sandwich shop, though you
can also buy wine and a few other dairy products there. The
outstanding sandwiches are sold to go; select one already made
up or create your own. Inexpensive and a perfect lunch or take-along
food if you're out seeing the sights. As of this writing, open
Monday through Saturday--but only until 6 pm.
Pain Quotidien. Rue Antoine Dansaert 16 and other locations.
More of a tearoom than a restaurant, this chain nonetheless
features breads, pastries, beverages, etc. of good quality and
a few tables at which to enjoy your purchases (or, you can take
them out). Open daily.
Rue au Beurre 31; phone: 02 511 81 76. OK, it's not a restaurant,
but a bakery/tearoom/patisserie. It's in a very touristy area,
too--just off the Grand-Place. But the gaufres, or sweetened
waffles with many choices of topping, are the best I had in
the country--and I tried them almost everywhere I went. Dynamite
speculaas cookies, and beautiful-looking ice creams, too, and
you can buy all three to take out. I never got to the tearoom
I Most Wanted to Get to but Couldn't:
La Domaine d'Lhintillac. Rue de Flandres 25; phone: 02 511
51 23. All duck, all the time. With the exception of desserts
and drinks, everything served here contains some form of duck.
This is a small restaurant, closed Sunday and Monday. It opens
for dinner at 7:30 pm. An appealing, if limited, menu. No credit
Recommended: La Rose Blanche/De Witte Roos, I Latini and
Le Petit Chou de Bruxelles. With so many choices in Brussels,
you can find better food elsewhere.
Here's where things become dangerous. For fun, I looked in the
Brussels phone book under "Chocolatiers"; 81 different
names were listed. This country is obsessed with chocolate.
I couldn't get to every chocolatier in the country by a long
shot, but I did the best I could. It is difficult to find really
bad chocolate anywhere in Belgium, but some places are better
Where to start? First of all, I'd suggest scratching any large
chains off your list. Their chocolate isn't terrible, but you
can do better, and I prefer supporting small, artisanal producers.
Their products are almost always fresher and more interesting,
and, without concerns about extended shelf-life, they can create
chocolates impossible for the big companies to reproduce. The
biggest three chains in Belgium are Godiva, Neuhaus, and Leonidas.
Others include Corne Port-Royal, Corne Toison D'Or, Ovidias,
and Moeder Babelutte. Even smaller chains, such as Temmerman,
Daskalides, and the like, have better chocolates in my opinion.
I enjoy fresh cream chocolates more than any other kind (in
stores, they are labelled as "fresh cream" or with
the words "avec la crème fraiche" (crème
fraiche has a different meaning in the US)). Be advised that
these must be refrigerated and they do not keep for more than
a few days. Most manufacturers carry a few fresh cream chocolates
at any given time, but the greater part of their wares will
not contain fresh cream and therefore can be kept for a couple
of weeks. When you go to buy chocolates, unless you want a box,
most shops do not have minimum weight requirements; you can
buy as little as one or two pieces. This is a great system,
because it enables you to try the products of many different
chocolate "houses" to find out what you like best.
If you are buying by the box, you needn't take something prepackaged.
You can pick out whatever you like to fill it. If you prefer
all dark chocolates, or don't like marzipan centers, specify
this; clerks are very good about these requests. Don't be afraid
to ask what's in the centers of chocolates. Some boutiques do
not label their chocolates, so you won't know what's inside
if you don't inquire.
Prices are less expensive for fine chocolates in Belgium than
they are in the US. The most expensive chocolates I saw were
about $35.00 per pound; you could pay a lot more than that here.
Chocolates make a great gift to bring home, but you ought to
purchase them as close to your departure as possible and keep
them in a cool, dry place until you leave. I also recommend
packing them into your carry-on bag, as they are less likely
to be squashed, melted, or otherwise damaged if you do.
Speed, long shelf-life, and mass-production are not the objectives
of reputable Belgian chocolatiers. Good chocolates require time
and top-quality ingredients, and these chocolates are meant
to be savored, perhaps with a cup of tea on a sunny afternoon
in the central plaza of the city you're visiting that day. Note
that many patisseries and tearooms also carry chocolates; some
are their own make, and some are not. Again, if you want to
try their chocolates, ask about this. Many, if not most, of
these chocolates are not available outside of Belgium. Some
companies supposedly have websites, and those are listed, but
I have not always found the sites where they're supposed to
be. Houses of which I am particularly fond are denoted with
an asterisk (*).
--Planete Chocolat. Rue du Lombard 24; phone: 02 511
07 55. Website: www.planetechocolat.be. The most original shapes
I saw in Belgium. This is a tearoom and a chocolaterie. The
pastries are OK, but not great, but the chocolates are quite
good. As you're choosing your chocolates, a large guide on the
wall to your right will help you determine the fillings in each
Chocolatier Manon. Chausee de Louvain 9A; phone: 02 217
64 09. Though not in a touristy area, this tiny boutique is
an easy stroll from the metro stop "Madou". There
is a good selection to choose from here. In my opinion, these
are some of the best chocolates I have ever tasted anywhere,
at any time.
Place du Grand Sablon 12-13; phone: 02 512 37 42. Another tearoom
and chocolaterie, but one of great fame. Often crowded. Good
chocolates; I haven't tried their pastry.
Marcolini. Place du Grand Sablon 39; phone: 02 514 12 06.
A tiny shop with ice cream treats, chocolates, and preserves,
but the real stars here are the individual, drop-dead-gorgeous
pastries that line the window every day. Decorating the shop
is a statement to the effect that Marcolini is the champion
pastry-maker of the world. I dismissed this claim as pretentious--
until I tried one of his miniature-artwork creations. Very good
chocolates, very good pastries.
Maison du Chocolat Artisanal. Rue Marche-aux-herbes 67;
phone: 02 513 78 92. A small shop with some good chocolates
just off the Grand-Place. If you go around Easter, look for
the little chocolate "rubber duckies"!
Rue Royale 73; phone: 02 217 45 00. If you have finished picking
out your selections at Manon (see above), this shop is no more
than a 10 minute walk away, even if you get lost. It's not far
from the Bruxelles Centrale station, either. A larger boutique
than many, and prices here are the most expensive I saw in Belgium,
but the chocolates are more than worth it. Many chocolates with
liqueur-based centers can be found here, too. Fabulous.
The Tourist Information Bureau printed up a list for me of chocolatiers
in this town; there were over 25. Listed below are the ones
I found walking around; I do not always have complete contact
information for them. Please don't ask me to pronounce any of
the Flemish names!
Walstraat 6, phone: 05 034 00 43. Website: www.chocolatierdumon.com.
Katelijnestraat 5, phone: 05 033 08 87. You must buy a minimum
of 100 grams of chocolate here, but it's well worth doing.
Stoofstraat 4, phone: 05 034 25 56.
Philipstockstraat 29, phone: 05 033 83 67. This turns out to
be a small chain, but I can recommend them unreservedly. Excellent
fresh cream chocolates.
Wollestraat 31B, phone: 05 034 83 83.
Clerck. Academiestraat 19. On a sidestreet a short walk
from the Markt. If you continue down Academiestraat, you come
to a canal with a number of pretty footbridges crossing it.
Buy some of the lovely chocolates here to sustain you as you
Chocolate Line. Simon Stevinplein 19; phone: 05 034 10 90.
Oost. Wollestraat 11, phone: 05 033 14 54. Excellent fresh
Wollestraat 15, phone: 05 034 02 50.
Vlamingstraat 12-14; phone: 05 661 42 50. I didn't try their
chocolates, but this is also a tearoom that serves decent pastry.
Wollestraat (street number not known, but across the street
and close by to both Van Oost and Chocoladehuisje). Again, while
I didn't try the chocolates here, this is another tearoom with
Girl. Katelijnestraat 44, phone: 05 034 06 17. This isn't
a chocolaterie or a tearoom, but if you're looking for a good,
fresh sandwich for lunch, head over here. They boast that their
sandwiches are the largest in Bruges, and it might just be true.
--Sinjoorke. Handschoenmarkt 8-10, phone:
Bastin. Blauwmoezelstraat 3, phone: 03 232 99 25. A tiny
boutique with very good chocolates and equally appealing small
Vinci. Grote Markt 17.
Rey. Appelmanstraat 5, phone: 03 233 29 37. Website: www.delrey.be.
Beautiful pastries, ice cream creations, and petits fours--and,
oh, yeah, they have some great chocolates, too! A short walk
from the Antwerp Centraal train station. Very well-known, and
deservedly so. Their flyer states that there's a tearoom next
door, which I didn't see.
At least 2 small stores in Antwerp. One is just off the Grote
Markt; the other may be on Hoogstraat.
Burie. Korte Gasthuisstraat 3, phone: 03 232 36 88. This
is the only chocolaterie in all of Belgium in which I experienced
any "attitude" from the staff. Nonetheless, they sell
some very fine chocolates.
On Hoogstraat or Oude Koornmarkt (not sure of the exact address).
Oude Koornmarkt 18, phone: 03 232 00 38. This is a tiny café
that serves a decent, if not spectacular, lunch. There were
some very nice looking pastries here, too, which I was unable
to try because I had eaten so much chocolate that day. Ambachtelijke
is very close by.
My timing was not great for seeing Ghent. As I was there on
a Sunday, many chocolateries/patisseries were closed.
Jacqlin. Mageleinstraat 3.
Hoorbeke L. On the plaza of St. Bavo's Cathedral, very near
the Tourist Information Bureau for the city. Stand with your
back toward the entrance/exit of the Bureau, and you'll see
the place just to your right. I was unable to find out an address,
as the staff was somewhat giddy; I visited on only the second
day they'd been open, and some of them were still drinking celebratory
champagne. Very good chocolates.
Nederkouter 139. This shop had the best pastry I tasted in Belgium,
and that's really saying something. They also have their own
line of chocolates, but I think the pastry is better.
--Le Saint Germain. Grand Place. A café/patisserie/chocolaterie.
They sell excellently-reputed chocolate bars from Bonnat, as
well as good fresh cream (and other) chocolates and good pastry.
--*Van Hove. Place de Lille 1. Very good chocolates.
Jardins du Chocolat. Place de Lille 10.
Do you have a comment, question or suggestion? I'd like your input
into this column. You can reach me at: firstname.lastname@example.org;
please specify that you're writing regarding "For Chocolate Lovers
Only." Thank you!