Museumbrasserie

2015 update – the restaurant changed hands and is now part of the Museum for Fine Arts. The reviews are no longer stellar, I am sorry to say.  

The Museumbrasserie. A restaurant everyone has been mentioning since it opened as the ‘new’ thing: TV, media, guides. Which can only mean one thing – we had to go.

The story so far
Behind the Museumbrasserie, is culinary star and one of the two 3 Michelin starred chef in Belgium, Peter Goossens. High expectations then for a museum brasserie, located in the Musee Royal des Beaux Arts and promising Belgian specialties and casual dining. Given that we probably won’t be going to Hof van Cleve anytime soon, this is as close as it gets to a three star Michelin chef.

First impressions
Cool (steel) design, some art on the walls, and indeed casual diners. Reservations are recommended, so we made ours online, and in we went. Given that the restaurant insists on reservations, I was expecting the restaurant to be fully booked. It wasn’t, so I assume going in, spur of the moment can work out just as well. All I can say is: book! Everyone and everything has now discovered the Museumbrasserie so it is constantly fully booked.

We were shown to our table, at the mezzanine, great view on the open kitchen down stairs. Only down side? The size of the tables. Small is an understatement. The tables are more than small and sitting comfortably without breaking anything is a challenge. Thus if going there, I would suggest asking for a table with the armchairs/ couches which did seem just a little bigger.

Our ‘giant’ menus arrived. Imagine hard covered A3 menus, which again are difficult to master in combination with the tiny tables. But we were there for the food …

The food
The menu offers a wide range of Belgian dishes which amazingly, is not that common in Brussels. There are traditional dishes, Belgian dishes with a twist and some classics I didn’t know about. Overall though a very well conceived menu. There is of course the option of a Menu Terroir Belge (Belgian Menu) at 32,00euro including Belgian classics such as shrimp croquettes, Flemish stew, or flan caramel. For anyone not familiar with Belgian food, a very good start.

We decided though to go deeper into the menu. Starters are from 8,00euro with langoustines at 24,00euro. Mains are from 16,00 to 28,00euro. We also asked for the wine menu, which again was a very pleasant surprise. Wines start at a very reasonable 17,00euro and are conveniently divided into whites, fruity reds, medium reds and powerful reds. The choice of wines (and prices!) is though incredible and there is something to suit every budget and taste. Again not common for Brussels restaurants which tend to put the wine prices through the roof. There is also a decent choice of Belgian beers on offer.

The choice being so varied, I stayed away from old favorites such as mussels soup or goose liver terrine, and ordered the pigs trotters with a gribiche sauce. Mr. O (as he would like to be known as) ordered the oxtail with poached duck egg.

Both starters arrived on time, unfortunately our wine didn’t. Finally though we managed to fit plates and wine on the tiny table, and dinner started. Delicious. There are some very talented people in the kitchen and that shows. Starters were flawless. The oxtail (on the left) as well as the pigs trotters (right) were melt in your mouth delicious. So was the sauce, up to the point where we even considered the salad to be useless. But a nice green touch.

museum brasserie

Mains. Again, off the beaten track orders: O. ordered anguilles aux herbes vertes (eel in green herb sauce) which is an ultimate Belgian dish. Having had a really bad anguilles aux vertes recently, I had my doubts about this dish.

mains

Personally, I ordered the pig cheeks in kriek sauce. The dishes arrived in small little pots, with Belgian frites on the side. We tried both dishes and besides going just a little easier on the herbs for the eel, again this was flawless cooking. Absolutely amazingly soft, tender meat, a great sauce, the eel was delicious (so I am glad to re-discover this dish!) and the frites were pure Belgian perfection.

frites

Sounds like a lot? The portions are well designed, and there is very little to keep one away from the desserts. Have I not been living in Belgium, I know I would order the Fromages Belges, a very tempting offer of 4 cheeses and their respective chutneys/ jams. Divine. Instead we ordered the creme brulee with raspberries, and the selection of fruit with whipped cream.

dessert

A small incident: my first bowl of fruit came, a disappointingly small bowl for 10,00euro. However it seems this was a mistake, so the real deal arrived – probably too much fruit now :). Great seasonal fruit, whipped cream and vanilla ice cream. A perfect end to a true culinary delightful dinner.

Service with a smile
Well, yes, smile was there. A little less efficient service though. At times the service was very slow or non-existent (the wine incident at the beginning), then just a little too fast (mains came immediately after starters). Overall though an attentive service and a very efficient (although non-smiling) maitre d’. And I’m sure he has it in him.

The verdict
Flawless cooking and real Belgian food. You rarely come across this well cooked food (and not Michelin starred!), and such an interesting choice of Belgian food. A must for Belgian food lovers, a must for tourists wanting to discover more about Belgian food. Probably not the cheapest place in town – our bill came to 125 euro, including 2 starters, 2 mains, 2 desserts, 2 glasses of white wine, 1 bottle of red wine, 1 bottle of water – but a winner. Definitely a restaurant I will recommend further, and probably go back to myself. The lunch could always be a cheaper option at 22,00euro.

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Museumbrasserie: website, Place Royale 3, 1000 Brussels

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