Friday, August 29, 2008

Luncho Mexicana

I work in the EU Quarter, where all the food costs twice as much as it should, and finding a non-sandwich, non-4-course lunch is nigh-impossible. After months of Pulp, Exki, and the occasional tuna sandwich, I sometimes want to throw myself out a window. Fortunately, I have one little reprieve when things get bad: El Vergel.

This Mexican resto is actually a spin-off from the London establishment of the same name. They have a fair trade policy, several vegetarian options, and a pricing scheme in line with the surrounding area, meaning that I generally restrict myself to one or two visits a month. But still. The soups and specials are often vegetarian or available in a vegetarian format. On the menu, I've had:
- vegetarian tacos (my favorite) done up with some lovely feta cheese
- vegetarian tostadas which are a bit too small to really fill you up, and
- vegetarian empanadas with spinach and feta.

They do a range of sandwiches and salads as well. I usually do take-away but if you eat in, watch out for their juices - very tasty but uber-expensive for the teeny cup.

Things I've never taken advantage of at El Vergel include their breakfasts and their late opening Thursdays, the latter including cocktails (I guess business is going well enough that they don't yet need to offer cocktails at breakfast). Both sound worth trying and one of these days you just might find me there at 8 for a little pre-work indulgence.

All in all a good option, but be aware that it does get very busy at lunchtime and after a meal your clothes will smell Mexicany for the rest of the day. But some people go for that sort of thing.

El Vergel
39 rue du Trone
1050 Brussels
Tel. 02 502 6930
Opening from 8.00 to 15.00 Mon-Fri, plus 18.00-22.30 on Thursdays

Friday, August 22, 2008

Those two dudes

Sorry for the radio silence - we've been off in Ireland on vacation, and wow can they cook! To all those people who wondered what we were thinking being excited ahead of time about the food, we can now say that indeed, we were right and they were wrong. That said, it was the fish that was spectacular, so I'll save my thoughts for another blog. To be fair, there were a good number of vegetarian options to keep us happy on that front too.

But back in Brussels, I was off to I Due Signori, a lovely Italian place near Square Montgomery. It was a business dinner, which was nice for me since the prices were a bit higher than I would normally spend, once you add up the many courses that you are expected to consume.

We started with an amuse gueule that was already 2/3 vegetarian - some aubergine and some courgette. If you don't like looking at the slice of meat that consistutes the remaining third, they will happily bring you a plate without it.

Then it was time to review the menu, at which time they plonked a dish of truffles onto the table worth about $10,000 - just to tempt us.

After that it was on to starters. I had a cream of tomato soup that was short on cream even though it was quite nice. There were other typical Italian starters that got good reviews around the table (tomato/mozzarella salad, minestrone soup). On to pasta: what I should have eaten was the linguine with truffles. They were onto something with that little temptation while ordering, and I wish I had succombed. The waiter (who is apparently formerly of Villa Lorraine) dresses all the dishes at the table, and on this dish the truffles get grated onto your pasta while you watch. Yum. However, I had opted for cannelloni which was tasty but not special. Dessert was a delicious heart-shaped fondant au chocolat that I would happily have again - not overly sweet and super-melty on the inside. Others at the table did the more typical Italian pasta-course-followed-by-fish-or-meat-course, which I would recommend to the fish/meat eaters out there since it all looked well prepared and I think would make the whole meal more filling.

All in all, a nice ambiance, helpful staff (a rarety in this town), and good food = a good place to add to my list.

I Due Signori
60 bd. Brand Whitlock
1200 Brussels
Tel: 02.733.5954
Mon-Sat 12-14.30 and 19-22.30
Reservations recommended - they filled up on the Wednesday night we were there.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Savor the Saveurs

Thursday night I needed a restaurant that was
a. veggie-friendly (obviously)
b. could easily accommodate a to-be-determined group of 6-10 people, and
c. open during the bloody summer vacations.

For these circumstances, I took a little trip back in time to Saveurs du Liban, a restaurant I had visited three years ago and had fond memories of. Last night confirmed that those memories were well founded.

Vegetarians will be eating tapas-style here out of the cold and warm starters, but don't fear - there are 15 veggie-friendly choices (we counted; in fact, we nearly ordered them all) and 4 of us were totally stuffed on the 10 that we split between us. The rest of the group ate meat and were apparently happy with it, but you don't care. What you want to know is what to order when you visit - or take away, since they also do that, even with delivery via RestoPresto. So don't miss:

- the hummus (need I say 'duh'?)
- the labneh with garlic and mint, which tastes like Boursin but fresher and better
- balila, which is warm chickpeas with maybe some lemon and other tastiness
- the eggplant dish that resembles babaghanoush but has a different name
- rkakat - cheese-filled fried cigars.... mmmm....
- we also ended up with a nicely dressed salad with pita chips on top that was excellent but I have no idea what you call it.

It was quiet there on a Thursday at 9pm but the last time I went it was a Saturday and earlier in evening, which meant, you guessed it: belly dancer. Goes on the above list of "don't miss."

Saveurs du Liban
Chaussee de Waterloo 599
1050 IxellesPhone: 02.347.79.39

Photo from RestoPresto

Thai time

It was thai time again on Wednesday night, this time at my tried-and-true favorite, Fanny Thai. You know that street near the Bourse with a million Asian restaurants? This is the best among them. And I can say that, having only tried three others... well, I can at least say that it's awesome.

This week, they even gave me a little surprise: they've expanded their vegetarian menu!! Boy, was I excited. For you, dear reader, I varied my usual orders to take advantage of these new offerings, so I can now recommend Fanny Thai's own:
- spring rolls (excellent sauce)
- tofu satay (equal portions of peanuts, coconut, and yumminess)
- tofu or seitan in yellow/red/green curry sauce, depending on how daring you feel (I take red)
- tofu or seitan with chili and garlic (among the new additions; nicely spiced)

Gidon had the tofu in ginger sauce, another new addition, and they have a tofu or seitan with thai basil that a friend had there once, which was also good. In short, there's a full page of vegetarian options, everything so far has been delicious, so you can't go wrong - with the exception of the very big head sculpture that decorates one wall and kind of scares me a little. So just get a seat with your back to that.

Fanny Thai
Rue Jules Van Praet 36
Brussels 1000
Phone: 02 502 6422
Open every day!

Muchas gracias vegancowgirl for the photo!