Au Bon Vieux Temps

BA SCORE
89
very good

38 Ratings
Au Bon Vieux TempsAu Bon Vieux Temps
PLACE INFO

Type: Bar

Impasse Saint-Nicolas 4
Brussels, 1000
Belgium

+32 2 217 26 26 | map

Notes:
No notes at this time.

Added by TheLongBeachBum

PLACE STATS
Score:
89
Ratings:
38
Reviews:
27
Avg:
3.98
pDev:
11.31%
 
 
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Ratings: 38 |  Reviews: 27
Photo of LoRezDave
4.34/5  rDev +9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 4

I was fortunate enough to travel through Brussels a couple times a back in 2004/5. I found my way to this tavern on a recommendation from someone at my hotel.

The atmosphere is above average because of it's lack of tourists and plenty of available seating. After a discussion with the manager behind the bar I found out the building was originally a Nunnery in the 1600's but has been a working bar since the 1800's!

Selection's on the beer list are good. Not a fat book, but a good selection of Belgian's nonetheless.

Service was off-the-charts and here's why...

This is a place for locals. On a return trip to Au Bon I recognized one of the guys at the bar from my last trip - who is a spot-on Sammy Davis Jr. The middle-aged woman behind the bar didn't know much English, but when you try your French (as my wife did) she opens up. My wife and I were just returning from Italy so we knew a few phrases, and my Italian cigarettes prompted the bar-woman to tell us her husband, who had just joined us at the bar, was Italian. What resulted was a fantastic discussion about beer and travel all via broken Italian, French, a small smattering of English, and some Flemish translations for Sammy. We were instantly "locals" and the bar-woman began plying us with different beers from behind the bar that they were eager for us to try and discuss!

Very fond memories of a great Brussles locals-bar.

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Photo of tsmo
2.7/5  rDev -32.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 3 | service: 2.5 | selection: 1.5

Think of this as a beer bar and you'll hate it; your options are trappist or a thin selection from InBev. Your waitress doesn't speak English, or much French.

On the other hand, think of it as a neighborhood pub and you might fall in love. It's largely free of tourists, completely free of the tourist atmosphere, and either a couple hundred years old or doing a damn good job of faking it. Among the more beautiful bars I've set foot in.

The way I see it, Au Bon Vieux Temps makes a good (perhaps optimistic) metaphor for Brussels at large: old wood, stained glass, cobblestones and a Hoegaarden.

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Photo of Estarrio
4.31/5  rDev +8.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5

I felt that most places in Brussels were far too packed and far too touristy. The old world charm that could be witnessed in other Belgian cities just wasn't there in Brussels...Until we entered Au Bon Vieux Temps.

This place will not dazzle you with the beer selection. It does have solid, well-priced offerings but you will find no hundred-page menu here. I enjoyed a couple of Rochefort 8's during my stay.

What you will find is a magnificent old bar with some the most charming atmosphere in Belgium. When you turn off the main road and traverse the ornate arches in the alleyway, it is like passing through time. From the ancient, stained glass windows to the aged wooden beams, this bar is a page out of history. Words cannot describe the old world charm of this bar. Best yet, we were the only tourists in the place. We chatted with the older, local crowd and had a wonderful experience.

Unless you are really into the throngs of tourists and hustle and bustle of Brussels, this is a MUST stop.

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Photo of Globetrotter
3.65/5  rDev -8.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5

This is a dark hole in the wall in an alley off of a main shopping street just north of the Grand Place. As you go in, there are tables on the right and in the back, while the bar squares off the corner on the left. Lots of dark wood - ceiling, walls, furniture. Cushioned vinyl on the chairs and benches. Plateware, jugs and clocks on the wail, a couple of stained glass windows and a big ceramic fireplace/heater against the back wall complete the ambience. The place was 3/4 full on a Saturday at about 3:00, and filling fast. I sat at a small table towards the back and waited. And waited. And waited. I finally gave up and went to the bar, where I was served fairly quickly. I'd have said that there was only bar service, but I then noticed one woman did seem to be working the tables. Obviously not very quickly, though.

There were 8 or 10 taps, one of which was an awful lager from Luxemburg. The rest were quite respectable, if neither unique nor intriguing. I counted 24 beers on the beer list. The beers were served well, in their appropriate logo glassware and at the right temperature. Great atmosphere, this is a nice place to duck into to avoid the tourist crowds outside. Great by no means, but certainly worthy of a visit.

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Photo of BlackHaddock
3.73/5  rDev -6.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3

I liked this place, solid, old, clean and almost empty on both visits during afternoons in October 2006. The beer list isn't huge or fantastic, or even interesting, but the place just fits my idea of what a small Brussels bar must have been like before the 20th century.

Lead glass windows and being in an alley, ensures it is dark, the ancient darkwood panelling and dim lighting compound the issue, it all adds to the atmostphere. This is old Brussels meets the tourist trade, it does it very nicely in my opinion. I shall be taking my parents here in December and update this review accordingly afterwards.

There was no need to update the first review, it was identicle to my other visits!

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Photo of GCBrewingCo
3.31/5  rDev -16.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 2.5

This place was very simple to find, but was a rather hot old bar inside. The place was dark and sweaty at the time of our visit with very low lighting.

Our waitress arrived, she was as old as the bar and spoke very little and very poor English. She made ordering off the small 23 beer menu a chore and extremely time consuming. Once she got the order she delivered most of the beers to the wrong people and then had to switch them around.

The place seemed like a tourist spot and it filled up very quickly. It was nearly empty when we arrived and was filled to the brim by the time we got the beers ordered.

If I was in the neighborhood I might drop in to wet my whistle, but more likely I would trudge on in search of some new, and certainly more exciting adventure. At the time of our visit the place was simply hot and noisy and as a result did not contain much charm.

Visited on September 16, 2006.

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Photo of Brewdogger
4.43/5  rDev +11.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

This is a hole in the wall, but a hidden gem a for those who are not regulars. This beer bar is right off the street from the craziness of Grand'Place and a perfect way to get away from the tourists and those looking for the Chocolate shop. The beer menu is not big, but you can go for the standard Chimay or Duvel or go for one of their specialties. I can't give away the secret, you have to go see it yourself. It is a great place to have a few after work or a place to take your tourist friends. Laissez les bons temps rouler, c'est incroyable!

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Photo of Bierschenker
4.45/5  rDev +11.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5

This is a great bar. So secluded from all the busy traffic and the dumb tourists a few steps away. You really need to know where it is if you want to find it. Located in an old alleyway dating from the middle ages. This is one of the last real Flemish bars in Brussels. Nowadays almost all the bars and shops and inhabitants of Brussels are French speaking. This is why I love this bar so much. The people behind the bar just speak Dutch! The decorations are not as old as the bar but old enough to give it that ancient cachet. They don’t really have that much beers, but every visitor has his own reasons for coming here. The tourists thinking they are smarter than the ones outside because they found this one. The Flemish because they get served in Dutch. And the romantics because the decorations are authentic and not glued on to attract tourists. Anyway, great bar and to al the BA’s visiting Brussels, you might meet me there some day.

Ut vivat, crescat, floreat!

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Photo of JohnW
3.93/5  rDev -1.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5

In full agreement with other reports here in BA, this is an amazing little bar, that is well worth a visit, especially if you are on a days visit, and centred near Grande Place, as only a couple minutes walk away. Very small inside, but wonderful atmosphere of calm from the hubbub of the outside. Friendly courteous service, though the beer list not as big as some more famous haunts, still always something worth trying. Not sure about food there, I think beer is the main thing - but worth the visit anyhow.

Incidently the 'beer museum' in the Grande Place is a place to avoid! Expensive entrance fee, not much to see when you get there, and the beer sample just a standard mass produced lager beer served by someone with no interest in the place at all!

John W visited Sept 2004

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Photo of Goldorak
3.79/5  rDev -4.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5

Another bar litterally in a hole in the wall, down a dark and dingy alleyway. The place seemed full of old regulars, and we were able to squezze ourselves in a corner, right next to the fireplace and the huge stained glass window. The place has an old, relaxed atmosphere to it. A great place for a romantic evening, with good Beer!

It seems to be the same nice lady working the bar as the previous reviewers mentionned. Funny, because when we ordered our Beers with our freaky French-Canadian accent, she didn't understand a word we said and tried to take our order in English, which she obviously knew very little of as well. So I just pointed at the menu. That seemed to be a recurring theme our whole trip. Next time I go there, I'll have a sign or a T-shirt made out with the inscription "Écoutez-moi attentivement, je parle francais" (pay close attention, I speak french)

Beer list wasn't too awesome by Belgian standards, but anywhere that serves Westmalle Dubbel on tap is allright with me!

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Photo of erica
4.13/5  rDev +3.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5

Went here twice last week with my boyfriend. It's a beautiful OLD place, with a nice little sign directing you through a little alleyway. If I didnt knwo it was a bar back there, I wouldn't venture in... but luckily I did, because the atmosphere was just amazing. Old detailed woodwork, stained glass windows that looked like from a church, old upholstered furniture, old people even. The selection was kind of general, but excellent compared to what i'm used to here in the US. The bartender was a nice old lady who I dont think spoke much, if any, English, but it didn't matter, we ordered and said our thank you's and all was well. Good service, yes. Good beer, yes. Great ambience, yes. Highly recommended for any trip to Brussels.

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Photo of francisweizen
3.99/5  rDev +0.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5

A nice little hidden gem of an old bar, in downtown Brussels. This place is down an old alleyway with just a neon sign and no mention of it even being a bar. Inside is dimly lit, with old timber everywhere you look. The crowd is usually old, Belgian, and local. The bartender we had was an old lady, who was nice enough at figuring out what we wanted (lol). I had a Vieux Temp (voo tom) whilst here as it seemed nice enough, and my friend had the excellent Bourgogne Des Flanders. A nice little place.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
3.79/5  rDev -4.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3

Right next door to one of Brussels hidden gems, the ‘A L'Imaige Nostre Dame’, is yet another – the ‘Au Bon Vieux Temps’. Very much like its neighbor, but with a slightly smaller beer list, nevertheless, it is still worth popping in here for a beer.

The alleyway is called ‘Impasse St.Nicholas’, and this too is also accessed from Rue Marché aux Herbes. A short 3 min. walk from the Grand Place, but just a 30 second stumble from, L'Imaige Nostre Dame.

Another genuine Old Brussels Café, dating from the 17th Century I believe. Once in the alleyway, windows covered in old-style ornate steel grids make you feel a little uneasy, but they are there to protect the ancient windows, rather than prevent Burglars. The entrance, itself an archway made from brick & stone, is to the right of a larger main stone archway. On a night-time, this area is lit by some fairy-lights which give it a rather Xmasy feel.

Once inside, it is dingy to say the least, and strong deep medieval wooden odors invade your nostrils. This Café has an incredible dark timber interior that has many exquisite wooden carvings. It is quite compact and only accommodates a few small groups before it gets full.

The beer range is around 30, and it has many solid Belgium classics worth trying. It is another one of those places that is worth visiting to absorb the real Bruxellois Café, as it used to be. A genuine interior makes up for the rather pedestrian beer list – but nonetheless, you will find a handful of Belgium Classic Ales that are worthy of at least an hour, or two, in here.

Whilst I would be the first to admit that you could miss this one out if you were really pushed for time, on a tight schedule and/or craving ‘rare’ beers; but it would be a desperate shame if you missed this Café. It would especially be a shame if you are already visiting the nearby and excellent La Bécasse for it’s Lambic Doux, and then the L'Imaige Nostre Dame, which is literally next door, for the unique Bourgogne des Flandres. If you do, then you should allow yourself the reward of re-acquainting yourself with one, or two, of the Belgium Classic Ales that you have no doubt had before, but in a high quality, genuine 17th Century Brussels Café atmosphere.

Last Visit: 30th Nov. 2003

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Au Bon Vieux Temps in Brussels, Belgium
3.98 out of 5 based on 38 ratings.
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