Sunday, January 11, 2009

Kosher Brussels: PilPel - CLOSED

First of all, Happy new year! I hope 2009 will bring peace, health and happiness to the world. It certainly promises to be an interesting year, starting with a fairly momentous event on January 20th...

But back to the real important things in life: vegetarian food in Belgium. While searching for a sardine recipe (apparently they are one of the 11 healthy foods you aren't eating), I stumbled on Written by a woman who is half-Trinidadian, half-Jamaican, and Jewish, I figured I could not go wrong (I was right, her sardine pate was delicious). We got in touch and she asked whether there was much of a kosher restaurant scene in Brussels, so I figured I would post something in reply.

Brussels is indeed shy on kosher options, while Antwerp has no shortage of kosher eateries (for a few highlights, see the article I wrote for Flanders Today magazine). That's what an active, ultra-Orthodox community will do for you. But of the teeny bit Brussels has to offer, my resto of choice is PilPel.

Kosher food comes in three varieties: dairy, meat, and pareve (neither milk nor meat). The fourth category, treyf, covers all the non-kosher stuff. What's good about kosher establishments is that you have certain guarantees walking in; for example, a dairy restaurant will never have any meat products whatsoever. This can be a handy thing to know as a vegetarian. Moreover, if you're vegan, ordering something vegetarian in a meat restaurant is a pretty safe bet since there will be no dairy products for miles (but do watch out for eggs, which are pareve, and can appear in both meat and dairy restaurants).

But you didn't come here for a lecture on the laws of kosher eating.

PilPel (Hebrew for "pepper") is a meat restaurant, but a vegetarian can get by quite happily. For one, they have falafel. For two, they have a whole slew of salads that you can order one by one, or as a mixed assortment. This includes delicious hummus, as well as different combinations of eggplant, tomato, cucumber, carrot, beet, and more. Everything comes with warm, thin, happy pita bread. And of course the meat options open up many more doors, so it's a good choice for a simple meal when you're heading out with non-veggie friends.

Nothing fancy, but definitely yum, and although you're sitting in a mini-mall, the decor is actually quite pleasant (hint: make sure to check out the shape of the ceiling lights when you visit). They also have a shop in case you feel inspired to pick up some kosher food.

A word to the wise: non-Jews do not often realize the quantities associated with Jewish eating. The general thought process is "the Russians are coming!" In short, we have a deep-seated fear of expulsion, to be followed by starvation. You have been warned.

Avenue De Fre 82 (De Fre Shopping Center)
Uccle 1180
Tel: 02-374-5300
Open: Mon-Thurs lunch & dinner; Fri lunch; Sunday from 12pm-10pm


moisdois said...


Sharon said...

It's true. Sadly Pilpel closed just a couple of weeks ago. But we're all still hoping it will reopen!

moisdois said...

Just heard that it might reopen again in the next few weeks...

Yaniv said...

Pilpel is closed down but there are other kosher shops in Brussels:

Gel Tov
Vanderkindere 497, 1180 Uccle

Chaussée d'Alsemberg 381, 1180 Uccle
Tel: 02 346 81 61

Rue Henri Wafelaerts 12, 1060 Brussels
Tel: 02 343 18 48

Sharon said...

Thanks for the listing! Shoresh is now serving food in a small restaurant area, but my understanding is it's mostly meat. I'm sure they offer something for vegetarians, though. I'll have to add that to my list to explore...