At the beginning of this miserable year for the real-estate market, 18 new apartments were on offer at 103 rue de Flandre, and a billboard-sized banner offered a free Brompton bicycle to anybody who'd buy one. Sales were slow until one day, Royal Brasserie transformed the empty storefront below (seemingly
over a weekend – where did they find these contractors?) and opened its doors, after which the flats sold like hotcakes.
The building was fully occupied by Autumn, and most residents, realizing that a great meal is only an elevator ride away, have probably sold their bicycles on eBay.
Every rapidly-gentrifying neighborhood has an original hotspot that puts it on the map. At Place St-Boniface, for example, L'Ultime Atome lighted the path for a new, diverse generation of residents and restaurants. Now, in the canal district – an area previously discovered only by getting lost after a few too many drinks at the Christmas market – there is the Royal Brasserie.
"Royal" offers a classic Belgian menu – waterzooi, carbonnades, Américan, steaks – in an upscale, modern atmosphere (see their website for more pictures). The delicious beef, imported from Ireland, exemplifies owner Emiel van Landuyt's desire to raise the bar for these standard dishes.
As part of a restaurant group that includes nearby Place St-Catherine's popular outdoor Mer du Nord, seafood lovers won't be disappointed by their choices, which include shrimp, king crab (salad or rôti) eel and sole. However the beef is outstanding, making the rich sauces (available a la carte) unnecessary. Frites are optional, and an ever-changing assortment of buttery side dishes is also available: gratin de courgette, stoemp, etc.
Fully-heated outdoor seating is available for drinking or dining. Full bar indoors. House wines are well above-average; bottles on the one-page wine list are well-chosen and reasonably priced.
Surrounded by wood, leather and flattering light, when your well-groomed waiter or waitress arrives (in uniform, no less), you might at first feel you've sat down in the States, perhaps at a branch of Houston's. The service isn't quite at that level, of course, but for Brussels it is, like everything else at Royal, a step above the competition.
Starters: 2.50 to 20€
Mains: 8 to 22.50€