Every country has a food scene, and these vary from one location to the next. The food scene is often a reflection of a country's history and culture and the produce that is naturally available to them. However, the food scene in a country is never about just one location, as travel and multicultural societies have a huge influence on food trends. Therefore, some of the top restaurants in a country showcase various cuisines from around the world or focus on fusion food with various cultural influences. When dining out in Belgium, you will find a vast array of outstanding restaurants, with some creating menus around local and seasonal produce and others with menus featuring international cuisines. To help you decide where to dine during a visit to this country, here are the 20 best restaurants in Belgium.
20. La Paix, Brussels
La Paix has a long and interesting history, dating back to 1892. Ever since the restaurant opened, the chefs have procured their meat from Anderlecht's abattoirs. The current chef is award-winning chef David Martin, who took over the establishment in 2006. In the past, the restaurant was known for its brasserie-style dishes, such as steak and frites. However, Martin has given both the menu and the dining room an overhaul to bring them bang up to date. It now has a modern dining room with origami cranes fluttering above diners' heads, and the food is multicultural, as Martin has taken inspiration from Japanese, Belgian, and French cuisines.
19. La Source, Lanaken
If you are visiting Lanaken or the surrounding area, one of the best restaurants to dine at is La Source. It is a destination restaurant that is set within Domain La Butte aux Boi, which is a country estate in Lanaken. The restaurant's dining room has chateaux-style seating and huge windows that overlook the pretty gardens. Chef Ralf Berendsen has devised an haute cuisine menu that focuses on creating balance and harmony between opposing flavors. There are many international influences, so you can sample flavors from across the globe.
18. Comme Chez Soi, Brussels
Founded in 1926, Comme Chez Soi is one of the most established fine dining restaurants in Brussels. It is set in a smart townhouse that has an art nouveau interior. Originally, the restaurant was opened by a former coal miner who dreamed of pursuing a culinary career. The current head chef is Lionel Rigolet, who has been at this restaurant's helm since 2006. He has followed the restaurant's tradition to create a menu of home-style cuisine made using European ingredients. This restaurant's unique feature is a window between the dining room and the kitchen, which allows diners to watch the meal preparation.
17. Hof van Cleve, Kruisem
From the outside, Hof van Cleve is a rustic farmhouse. Once you step inside, there is a different vibe as you enter an elegant dining room. The restaurant opened in 1987, and chef-patron Peter Goossens runs this venue., Although he uses Belgian produce to create the dishes, the menu has various international influences. Seafood features highly on the menu, although it is not specifically a seafood restaurant. Hof van Cleve has become famous for its cheese board, and there is a wide selection of desserts to enjoy after your main meal.
16. Restaurant Slagmolen, Opglabbeek
Many people describe this fine-dining venue's setting as like a fairy-tale, as it is housed in an old watermill. Inside the restaurant, some of the machinery is still visible. There is also the option to dine alfresco on the terrace that leads to a leafy venue. Diners can also spend the night at this venue, as there are chic guestrooms in an adjacent villa. The restaurant was opened in 1994 by husband and wife team chef Bert Meewis and Karlijn Libbrecht. They have developed a menu of classic Belgian dishes that are presented in a modern and sophisticated way. Two of the highlights of the menu are the beef tartare and the dame blanche desert.
15. T'Hommelhof, Watou
Belgium King lists T'Hommelhof as one of the best restaurants in Belgium. One of the reasons this is such a fantastic restaurant is that diners are welcomed like family. Another reason is that chef Stefaan likes to create unusual dishes that are often based around beer. The chef has a homely and rustic style of cooking, so expect warming and delicious food rather than elegantly plated dishes.
14. Willem Hiele, Koksijde
Many aspects of Belgian cuisine are based around the produce from the North Sea, and that is the focus of the menu at Willem Hiele, which is one of the best restaurants in Koksijde, Brussels. As the name of the restaurant suggests, the chef-owner of this restaurant is Willem Hiele. He first began his culinary career by serving food from his parents' fisherman's cottage. He now has his own restaurant with his wife, Shannah. At lunch service, there is a three-course set menu available. Those who dine at the restaurant in the evening can choose between either a five-course or a seven-course menu. While the seafood is central to the dishes, they are complemented by seasonal ingredients.
13. De Jonkman, Bruges
De Jonkman is one of the top restaurants in Bruges. It is set in a former hunting lodge at Male Castle, and it has its own kitchen garden from which many of the ingredients used on the menu are selected. Filip Claeys runs the restaurant, and the menu consists of modern Flemish dishes with sustainability at its heart. There is a seafood-centric menu, with fresh fish and seafood sourced from the North Sea fisherman of the Flemish fish and shellfish co-op. Although seafood is the highlight of the menu, there are also meat and vegetable dishes available. Diners can eat in the large modern dining room or out on the restaurant's terrace.
12. Graspoort, Mechelen
If you enjoy trying various international cuisines, then one of the best venues is Graspoort in Mechelen. Chef Greet is at the helm of this restaurant, and prior to becoming a chef, Greet traveled the globe, gaining experience in the flavors from around the world. The chef's travel experience is reflected in the fusion menu, which combines both Mediterranean and Asian flavors. All the dishes are freshly prepared, and vegetables feature highly on the menu, with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. Many people miss dining at this restaurant due to its location at the end of a residential alley. If you visit Graspoort during warm weather, you can enjoy alfresco dining on a terrace shaded by vines.
11. Bozar Restaurant, Brussels
Bozar Restaurant is located within the Centre for Fine Arts, which is an art deco building in Brussels that was the last structure designed by famous architect Victor Horta. Originally, it was called Bozar Brasserie, but Armenian chef Karen Torosyan changed the name after the venue won a Michelin-star and he bought out the venue. Although this is an award-winning restaurant, it is reasonably priced. The menu consists of modern Belgian fare with a twist. Save room for a dessert, as this restaurant is known for the perfection of its sweet dishes.
10. Bon Bon, Brussels
50 Best Discovery names Bon Bon as one of the top restaurants in Brussels and this restaurant has won multiple awards. Set in a building with traditional architecture but given a contemporary makeover, there is a fantastic vibe in the dining room. The award-winning restaurant was established in 2001 by chef Christophe Hardiquest with his wife, Stephanie. It has a selection of menus, and each features reimagined Belgian classics.
9. Cache de Cire, Turnhout
Attention to detail is one of the reasons that Cache de Cire in Turnhout is considered one of the top restaurants in Brussels. Every detail is taken care of, from the selection of fresh produce to the techniques used in cooking the food and from the customer service to the little touches, such as the luxury hand creams in the restaurant's bathrooms. Although it is a gourmet restaurant, they do not serve bite-size dishes, as Cachet de Cire's portions are generous.
8. Life Is Art, Antwerp
Life Is Art is a unique restaurant, as it has a quirky and eclectic style. There is a casual approach to the food, which is reflected in the dining room's casual vibe. Diners sit along benches adorned with loose cushions amidst unusual decorations, such as a suspended canoe-skeleton, an old piano, and ornate mirrors. The casual approach to the food means that not all the dishes on the menu are always available, and other dishes appear on the menu unexpectedly. It is one of the most affordable top restaurants in Belgium, there is live jazz music at the weekends, and there is an extensive wine and beer menu.
7. Hortense & Humus, Turnhout
For vegetarians, the top venue in Belgium is Hortense & Humus. This restaurant is devoted to serving inventive and delicious European-style vegetarian cuisine. While the food is the highlight of the visit, the setting also contributes to the overall dining experience as the restaurant's interior has a decorative chapel-style ceiling, and the furniture is gold-trimmed.
6. The Jane, Antwerp
The Jane is listed by Lonely Planet as one of the best restaurants in Brussels. It is so popular and famous for the dining experience on offer that diners must book a table at least three months in advance. Therefore, you cannot just expect to turn up at the door and for them to find you a table. The two Michelin-starred restaurant is set in a converted military hospital chapel.
5. L’Air du Temps, Liernu
A two Michelin-starred restaurant, L'Air du Temps in Liernu offers something different from the other Michelin-starred restaurants in Belgium. The diners are introduced to Korean cuisine at this restaurant, as the chef is Korean-born and Belgium-raised Sang-Hoon Degeimbre. Although the cuisine is Korean-inspired, the restaurant is set in a farmhouse, and the chef combines contemporary culinary techniques with a farm-to-table approach. The restaurant is divided into several dining rooms, and there is also the option to dine out on the terrace, which offers views across open fields.
4. d’Eugenie a Emilie, Saint-Ghislain
Regional dishes made using regional produce are what you can expect to find on the menu at this restaurant, which chef Fernez runs. Both meat and seafood dishes appear on the menu, but how they are combined with vegetables in creative ways is what makes them special. The creativity and precise delivery of the food are what have earned this restaurant its two Michelin stars.
3. La Duree, Izegem
La Duree is a two Michelin-starred restaurant in Izegen, West Flanders. Local ingredients are used creatively by chef Angelo Rosseel. He creates three-course, five-course, and seven-course menus that change daily to reflect the availability of ingredients. While he follows current culinary trends, the focus is always on creating balance in the food.
2. Hof van Cleve, Kruishoutem
You will find Hof van Cleve, a three Michelin-starred establishment, in a countryside location close to the town of Kruishoutem. Chef Peter Goossens uses a combination of local produce and international flavors to create dishes that taste divine and look like artwork on the plate. At this restaurant, diners can choose between various multi-course tasting menus.
1. Hertog Jan, Bruges
According to Elite Traveler, the best restaurant in Brussels is Hertog Jan in Bruges, which is a three Michelin-starred establishment with chefs Joachim Boudens and Gert De Mangeleer at the helm. They take a garden-to-kitchen approach to create food for the seasonally changing menu, and they offer a variety of tasting menus, each of which delivers a different culinary experience. Diners also have the option to order a la carte if set tasting menus are not their thing.
Written by Dana Hanson
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