Brunch In Brussels: where to go

brunch in brusselsBrunch is a portmanteau word which fuses ‘breakfast’ and ‘lunch’ and is basically a combination of a late breakfast with an early lunch, writes Daphne Wayne-Bough.

It’s eaten usually on a weekend, between 10:30 and 12:00, has a wider repertoire than simple breakfast and is eaten in a more leisurely fashion. One goes out for brunch, whereas it is merely a late breakfast when eaten at home.

 

Brunch is generally thought of as an American concept. New York Sun reporter Frank Ward O’Malley allegedly coined the phrase in the early 20th century, based on the typical mid-day eating habits of a newspaper reporter.

However, the Oxford English Dictionary says the term was coined in Britain by Guy Beringer as early as 1895 to describe a Sunday meal for “Saturday-night carousers”.

Standard brunch dishes should have overtones of luxury and indolence – smoked salmon, cream cheese, freshly squeezed orange juice, maybe a light shaving of truffles – and/or comfort food, such as porridge or scrambled eggs, to soothe the pounding head and jaded palate from a night of hard partying.

Cornflakes are way too noisy.

A divisive question on brunch is - alcohol or not? On a hungover Sunday morning, a hair of the dog is sometimes de rigueur. If you must, a Bloody Mary is perhaps acceptable. However, the French attitude to brunch, which starts with an aperitif, continues with wine, and finishes on a digestif, is sort of missing the point.

‘Champagne brunch’ is a standard Sunday treat in posh hotels, sometimes accompanied by jazz, deemed as musical Nurofen for serious partygoers. For a pleasant jazz-free Saturday chillout or Sunday brunch after a mooch around the flea market at Place Jeu de Balle or the antiques market at Sablons, the big hotels offer top-class brunches at top-class prices: Café Wiltcher’s at the Conrad will set you back a stonking €65, which won’t do your hangover any good at all. Here are a few more reasonable suggestions:

Le Pain Quotidien

Without a doubt the best bread shop in Brussels, if not Belgium. All-day breakfast is served at the big communal table or at smaller tables in its nine Brussels restaurants, several of which have an outside terrace. PQ brunches are healthy and organic, and their range of products to eat in or take away has now expanded to the point you could almost do your weekly shop in there. Trendy and slightly expensive, extremely popular with expats. Now gone global - I stumbled across a branch in Los Angeles.

Chez Rachel

A smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel is in my top five breakfast/brunch specials. Usually open most days until 16:00 and Thursday to Sunday until 22:00. Quiet gay-friendly place off the main tourist drag downtown.

Chez Franz

Popular local bar at the Uccle end of Saint-Gilles serving beer, home-made lemonade, cocktails and brunch Saturday and Sunday. Open every day 8:00 to midnight.

L’Orangerie du Parc d’Egmont

Behind The Hotel on Boulevard de Waterloo near Porte de Namur, on the edge of a lovely park with al fresco dining in fine weather. Posh brunch served between 11:00 and 15:30 on Saturday and Sunday. Impress the in-laws.

Les Halles des Tanneurs

Art deco cultural space near the Sablons, €25 all-in buffet brunch with wine on Sundays only. Handy for antique-hunters.

La Britannique

The posh catering co hosts a restricted brunch on Sundays in Forest. Join a handful of initiates and chef Alex. Restaurant opening soon.

Read more of Daphne’s gourmet gallivanting at her food blog Daphne’s Dinners

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