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Mussels in Brussels

Discussion in 'Benelux' started by jeffthecheff, Jun 25, 2013.

  1. Hello,

    I'm planning a weekend trip to Brussels on July 5th. Obviously I'm looking to drink a lot of great beer, but that's been covered pretty well on the forums. I'm looking for recommendations on places to eat mussels, especially if it's a place that also has lambic. I read that they are out of season right now, but I was also told they could still be found year-round. Where should I go? Are the best places still serving them while they are out of season locally? Also, any other personal travel recommendations are welcome. Or, if you are local to the area and want to get a beer with me I'd be open to that. Thanks!
  2. LambicKing

    LambicKing Advocate (650) Florida Apr 13, 2011

    Skip Brussels. Have mussels and geuze (1997 vintage, no less) at 3 Fonteinen's restaurant.

    Delish.
  3. Lambicking makes an excellent recommendation above. However, Brussels is a great city to visit. Out of season for moules in July, but plenty of places to still get them. Spinnekopke is a reasonable priced place with good food. Great beer and places to drink abound. Poechenellekelder right by Mannekin is a good place to have a beer in the evening after dinner, last time there had a very good waiter that various members in the group described what they would like and he would bring out beers that closely matched what they were looking for. I always enjoy a vertical tasting where places have cellars to get a chance to taste how aging impacts the beers. Best place for vertical tasting was up in Antwerp , the Kulminator (sp?). A la Bécasse is in Brussels business district, and like many of the better places to eat or drink is down a narrow alley and easy to miss. Enjoy your visit.
    LambicKing likes this.
  4. Plus 1's on Spinnekopke and Drie Fonteinen. I would also add the Bier Circus to the list of good lambic/food places. Since mussels are out of season try to find waterzooi as an alternative if the place you are visiting aren't selling them.
  5. Mussels are local in months that end in "r". just keep that in mind.
    DougOLis likes this.
  6. LambicKing

    LambicKing Advocate (650) Florida Apr 13, 2011

    Yes...a La Becasse is great too.
  7. Might be pedestrian, but Leon's has awesome mussels. Beer selection isn't incredible, but the food is righteous.
  8. tinypyramids

    tinypyramids Savant (445) Illinois Jul 19, 2012

    pedestrian is right, but i thought their mussels were very good and also very well priced. honestly it's probably the only restaurant on tourist trap row that i encountered that isn't a complete ripoff.
  9. The website for the authority in Zeeland (where the mussels come from) bears out the R-month thing. I'd always doubted a bit, since restaurants all over Brussels plaster their tables with special mussels menus in warmer months of the year, and I've had ones that weren't that great in winter in restaurants that I really like. That said, it's not uncommon to have them (possibly frozen!) in the seafood-themed places in the center all year around. Leon is OK but Aux Armes de Bruxelles, across the street, is locally the best regarded place on that restaurant row, and they only serve mussels when they think they're good. (It's not uncommon to hear, and I've probably said it myself, that it's the ONLY place on the strip, although you'll have a decent meal anywhere, and seafood isn't cheap anywhere.) The best seafood dining is a bit further away in the St. Catherine neighborhood, where there are still fish wholesalers. I've had good ones at La Villette (excellent beer choices too), Pre-Salé, Bij den Boer, probably other placdes around there if I thought of it. If you get to the part of Ixelles around Beer Mania or Ultime Atome (places reviewed on this site), I've had more than my share at Belgo Belge.
  10. in the end, my comment is this:

    I live in Toronto.
    we aren't near the ocean.
    it is July.
    I had mussels for dinner 2 nights ago.

    so i'm not sure why it matters where the mussels come from. they always are shipped to inland locations on ice, where they are still alive and still very fresh.
    taking that thought, i'm also not sure why having mussels in Belgium is key. everyone pretty much does mussels Belgian style. so if someone wants mussels in July in Belgium, then sure. if they want Belgian mussels in toronto in July? sure as well.
    it all is cool.

    as a further aside, Belgium has a pretty poor environmental track record. looking at the polluted canals and deforested countryside in the north, i'd question if i really want mussels from Belgium. so that's something to take into consideration.
  11. Smurf2055

    Smurf2055 Savant (485) Washington Nov 12, 2011

    Took this from a travel book on Belgium and Amsterdam by Rick Steves:

    "When the mollusks are in season, from about mid-July through April, you'll get the big Dutch mussels (most are from the coastal area called Zeeland, just north of Belgium). Locals take a break from mussels in May and June, when only the puny Danish kind are available."
  12. Good points, atomeyes. Zeeland is actually not near Brussels, and is in fact in the Netherlands (which may be a good thing if Belgium's environmental record weighs on your dinner order. They're shipped, and may be frozen. The Belgian "thing" about mussels is not proximity but that they're very into them and consume by the ton, so 1. it shouldn't be just an afterthought on a menu but something the kitchen can really crank out; 2. they pay up for "good" ones -- which might just mean they're big (I often prefer French ones, myself); 3. they have a lot of ways of doing them; and 4. there are always fries, which is the point about half the time I order 'em myself. It's like chocolate -- it comes from other continents, and most of what you can buy in Belgium comes from the same wholesaler, but there are high standards, a mix of tradition and inventiveness, and high throughput. I did mention the fries, right?
  13. Tut

    Tut Savant (390) New York Sep 23, 2004

    A little late, but wanted to respond. I live in western New York, and the type of mussels available in the eastern US and Canada are nowhere near as good as the ones in Belgium. They may be prepared Belgian style, but they are a different variety, smaller, and not as succulent. Also, the mussels served in Belgium come from the Netherlands.
  14. Back on topic, Restobieres is a great restaurant that, as you can tell, also focuses on beer, both for drinking and cooking with it. Highly recommend this place, and it's an interesting part of Brussels.
  15. Tut

    Tut Savant (390) New York Sep 23, 2004

    Restobieres has moved to larger quarters across the street and just down from the former location.
    Was there last night.
  16. What did you think of it? I loved it while I lived there. The former location was pretty cramped, so I'm glad to hear they've upgraded.
  17. Update in case anyone still interested... R-less month notwithstanding, I'm seeing a profusion of Brussels restaurants hanging up their moules banners. Game on. Anyone who has 'em, please report. BTW, as good lambic not always around, a Hoegaarden or decent wit/blanche will usually do well, creamy and citrusy pairs up fine. Since someone mentioned Restobieres, the new location is bigger but with more tables so still feels cramped, and just as quirky, but it's supposed to (on both fronts).

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