I’m going to start profiling our recent trip to Europe. This is an easy one to profile as we stopped in Brussels for 5 hours on our train trip from Amsterdam to London. It was a worthwhile trip as well… for the most part. Brussels is a beautiful city, nothing over the top, but still has some charm that a lot of European cities have. It has a mix of old architecture, and funky new buildings that blend in quite well.
Im not here to talk about buildings though!
So im going to get right into it. We finally found a restaurant, after walking past so many. Quin was getting hungry and a little frustrated. If we didnt find a restaurant she was probably going to eat a Belgian. We started walking down one of THOSE tourist lanes. This is the sort of lane that has pictures of the well-known dishes of the country and usually a special deal for tourists. Was it cheap? Not really, but the pictures make it look like you are going to get value for money. I knew this was a bad idea, but we ended up choosing a restaurant, there were a few people in there.
From the beginning this place was a shambles. I am not going to name the street (because I cant remember it), nor the restaurant (don’t remember that either). Just know if you find a street like this that i’ve warned you! So I had the so-called fish soup. This was like a bowl of Thai fish sauce with a twist of muck. Yep, it looked like river water with a red oil film on top. It was horrible. Quin had lobster soup. Lets think about this for a minute… lobster soup, on a lunch time special menu, for a bargain price. Is it really going to be lobster? Neither had a chunk in them, just cloudy rubbish. These were two of the worst soups I have ever tasted. The baguettes were rock hard. It was like chewing on a piece of wood. Horrible, horrible horrible!
NEXT COURSE (Photos below)
Quin ordered the Mussels. Well after frequenting the Belgian Beer Bars in Australia, we were expecting big things from Belgium. Unfortunately we were bitterly disappointed. The soup that the overcooked mussels were sitting in was again a twist of Thai fish sauce with a whale blubber reduction. Besides the saltiness and the fatty texture, there was nothing else. This was repulsive.
I ordered the “lamb ribs” with potato. If I had realised that I was going to be presented with a type of staple meal served on Australian tables back in the 1950’s,that was the only choice due to tough financial times, I certainly wouldn’t have bothered. This made 1950’s cheap Australian lamb chops and 3 vegetables look like a 3 Michelin star gourmet feast. Completely horrible? Yes… it was so horrible, it would have rated 0 out of 5 for me if it wasnt for the beautiful Belgium beers we were fortunate enough to wash our food down with. The worst part… we were starving and there is nothing worse than a horrible meal when you are starving. So here’s how the rest of the 5 hours played out. Enjoy the photos.
What do you do when you are starving hungry? You stop at every chocolate place you can. We were buying bags of Belgian chocolates for around 3 Euro a bag. This sort of chocolate will go for $2+ a piece in Australia. We felt like Christmas had come early AND this was perhaps some consolation for the horrible lunch we had. What else do you do when you are starving in Belgium? You find a bar! So we started ordering beers at the bar. Mind you, this bar had what seemed like 100’s of Belgian beers and they were delicious.
So we drank some more… and ate some chocolate.
And so we drank some more…
And then there were empty glasses. Quin and I were so excited about the cheap Belgian beer which is an absolute rip-off in Australia that we had at least 5 each… and some of them are around 14% alcohol. We started to feel rather off-balance. We ran out of time and headed for the train.
We were fortunate enough to catch up with a very good friend from Adelaide in London. He insisted we go to a place called Taayabs. I’m not really sure where it was. After carrying our backpacks through the subway system, developing some serious neck and back pain PLUS now battling an afternoon hangover the 30 minute bus ride was making me feel rather nauseous. We got there and had to line up for some time. We then ordered a massive feast of food from the sub-continent. I was looking forward to Indian food in London and this didn’t disappoint.
I’m sorry there are no other photos, we were not in a good state and pulling the camera out didn’t come to mind on that occasion.We certainly appreciate the hospitality from AJ in London. Its a pity we had run out of time on our trip.
All in all a great day traveling from Amsterdam to London, through Brussels. Despite the worst meal on the whole trip, the day was great.
My top 3 tips for eating in big cities and avoiding whale blubber mussels are…
- Avoid the tourist restaurant strips (unless of course you know well that the food is good)
- Avoid corny signs with pictures of food on them
- Dont always go to a restaurant because there are people in there. It might just mean that the restaurant staff are skilled at roping people in.
My next European food review will be very positive! Most of the food we ate was fantastic, im still hoping that a couple of restaurants will send their menus through to me.
Until the next post, signing off.