Now, then. Bxl30Days is on the horn of a dilemma here - the type of horn that will rise up more often than a Catholic cleric’s cock in a church full of choirboys.
The bar you’re about to read about is something of a well-kept secret - most expats certainly don’t know of it - but it’s the job of these pages to give you a bit of insider gen. Which makes it a secret that won’t be well-kept anymore.
Frankly, there’s only one word for this sort of situation. And the word is ‘bugger’.
Heigh-ho. Given that the editor has offered considerable recompense for writing about the great watering holes of this fair city, it seems there’s nothing to be done. After all, a five-ride STIB ticket and a jar of Marmite are not to be guffed at in these austere times.
The bar that is Het Goudeblommeke in Papier or La Fleur en Papier Doré sounds as though it houses the local origami troupe. It’s also on a really ugly street, just yards from the much better-known La Porte Noire bar and diagonally across from the monstrosity that is the Crosly Bowling building, plonked like a brick-shaped turd at the arse-end of the Sablon.
That, and the fact that it’s in no-man’s land, may explain why few Eurobrats go there. Phew. But you may be unlucky enough to meet a coach-load of disconcertingly enthused Germans or, less often, a gaggle of increasingly rude on-tour Orientals getting in the way with their latest 3G specially adapted, slanty-eye-lens digicamcorderwankmachines. Cough.
The cool thing about this bar is that it was once the meeting place of the figureheads of Brussels surrealism. René Magritte, Marcel Marien, Louis Scutenaire and, later, writers Hugo Claus, Pierre Alechinsky (plus others you’ve never heard of) would meet there to talk, argue, sup too much and fall off their seats.
The really cool thing about it is that the founder, an art dealer, poet and presumably serious drinker - Geert van Bruaene - built an interior covered in bric-a-brac, kitsch and some valuable items that qualify as both. The bar is also warm, friendly and quietly bonkers, with a big back room, a hidden rear terrace and mildly sarcastic barstaff.
The beer is broadly based and certainly well kept, the cheese plates are splendid and the atmosphere is one of chatter, chatter, chatter. (OK, I lied, some locals do get in there...and they never shut up.)
There’s something about the place that makes you feel as though you’re in a timewarp - going back 60 years or so - and makes you wish you’d met Mr van Bruaene. His bar will give you a naughty skive-like experience - which is no surprise, as he once wrote: ‘Every man has the right to 24 hours of liberty every day.’ Especially on the sly.
So avoid this bar. Please. Thanking you...
Rue des Alexiens, 55