For many people, a worthwhile weekend isn’t complete without an indulgent brunch. Luckily, Brussels offers countless memorable brunch experiences. Writer and brunch expert Sarah Schug scoured the Belgian capital for the best, from traditional buffets and four-course feasts to a uniquely Japanese take on the meal.
Located right at Ixelles’s picturesque Place Albert Leemans, ÖTAP is the brainchild of chef wunderkind Paul-Antoine Bertin, who – at the tender age of 22 – runs one of Brussels’s most sought-after restaurants. While it’s all about sharing tapas-style meals on weekdays, each weekend a gigantic buffet awaits. “We create about 25 different dishes each time,” says Bertin, who prides himself on making bread. Everything is created in-house, with a focus on seasonal vegetables grown in permaculture gardens. The restrained but elegant Scandinavian-inspired interior is a stunner as well. Unfortunately, reservations aren’t accepted, but it’s well worth waiting for a table.
Robinet, easily recognisable by its industrial-style garage-like door that opens when the weather allows, breathes some much-needed fresh air in the culinarily deserted Porte de Hal area. Although it dubs itself a bar, its excellent food cooked up by chef Thomas Wagnez suggests otherwise. For the weekend brunch, he forgoes the classic buffet set-up, opting for a fixed four-course meal instead. At its centre is the Middle Eastern shakshuka (eggs in a red pepper sauce). “The secret is to cook the egg white but keep the yolk raw,” explains Wagnez. Worth a mention is the exceptionally creative offer of non-alcoholic drinks ranging from home-made kombucha to basil lemonade. And if you’re worried about your calorie intake (there are also pancakes topped with home-made salted caramel), there’s a ping-pong table in the back.
Interior-wise, L’Alchimiste is hipster heaven. A giant bookshelf graces a red-brick wall, and the furniture is vintage. The atmosphere is quiet and relaxed, and during the week, you’ll find young creatives working from their laptops. Once a month (keep your eyes open on social media), Perrine Vandenborre – owner, founder and chef – issues invitations to a reservation-only and entirely plant-based, organic and home-made brunch that will make your taste buds sing. Think hot oat porridge with caramelised pistachio nuts, lentil coconut dhal or baby spinach with herbs and yoghurt. Pro tip: Pair it with a sinful Oreo milkshake.
Chic, minimal, white – Martine looks exactly like what you’d expect from an eatery that’s in the same building as an art gallery. Together with Galerie Valérie Bach, it’s located in a former ice rink, and on its walls, you’ll find art pieces belonging to the gallery. Martine’s standout feature: the big tree-filled courtyard, which is the icing on the cake when brunching during the sunny season. Here, you’ll find the classic buffet concept, with recipes adapted to the seasons as well as the founder and cook Maroussia Nève’s inspirations. Her motto: healthy but savoury. The tasty offerings range from brownies, crepes and cereals to a Thai salad, roasted pineapple, cheeses and so much more. It’s especially perfect if combined with an exhibition visit.
Fourchette à Bicyclette | Courtesy of Fourchette à Bicyclette
What started as a food delivery service by bike (hence the name) has turned into a permanent little plant-based restaurant on a quiet street in the St Boniface district. Popular with vegans and meat eaters alike, Alexandra Roshardt’s cuisine is strikingly inventive and refined, with her brunch, new every weekend, reflecting that. The surprising, colourful combinations and creations are arranged on beautifully styled plates that carry goodies such as spirulina energy balls; ravioli filled with raw cabbage and topped with avocado cream; hummus served with home-made herb crackers; and banana bread with apple butter.
Located in the Sablon quarter, Crème offers the most popular, traditional Anglo-Saxon brunch dishes while adding a contemporary twist. The menu includes dishes such as eggs benedict with salmon and spinach on sourdough bread, lobster rolls, and stacks of fluffy American-style pancakes drenched in sauces like peanut butter or speculoos, the Belgians’ favourite flavour. Founded by four friends who got their inspirations from the Australian food scene, where they lived for a while, Crème offers rich and juicy brunch classics at their best and not only on weekends but every day, all day long. Come very hungry.
Campo’s substantial buffet boasts a selection so big that customers can choose two routes to go down: the traditional experience (eggs, pancakes, pastries, organic bacon, Label Rouge salmon and the likes) or the creative (healthy vegetable and fruit dishes). “We want people to be able to make the choice themselves,” says Campo’s Alexia Gosse. Another high point is the gorgeous interior design with meticulous attention to every detail – from the jungle-like wallpaper and green tiles to the matte gold cutlery. Plus, your furry friends are more than welcome to come along – they even have their own section on the menu.
Looking for something a bit less traditional? At Tokidoki, there’ll be no pancakes or croissants but rather a variety of Japanese dishes. “It’s just like having breakfast in a Japanese home,” explains Loic Sturani, an Italian-born filmmaker who lived five years in Japan where he learned the tricks of the trade. For weekend brunch, he selects four different dishes plus a dessert that all align with his general approach: Japanese home-cooking, grandma-style. This means no ramen or sushi but local vegetables and non-endangered fish prepared with Japanese techniques and seasonings. The background music provided by records featuring Japanese stars from the ’70s is a nice touch.