Monday, March 30, 2009

Check out Chickpea - CLOSED

We're reaching the end of Passover here, meaning a. life is slowly calming down again, and b. soon we'll be eating normal food once more! Although I haven't had time to write about it until now, we did sneak in a trip to Chickpea just before Passover. This was an exciting discovery that I'm happy to share with you.

Located at the chic intersection of Avenue Louis Lepoutre and Chaussee de Waterloo (leave your car at home), Chickpea is a mediterranean restaurant that opened about 3 or 4 months ago. It's Israeli-owned, but not kosher - so it can serve as a partial replacement for the now-closed PilPel, certainly on the vegetarian side. That said, it's a bit more upscale than PilPel ever was, with a modern, candlelit interior, so you may want to save it for a nicer night out.

Then again, the night we were there, a fairly tame bachelor party of Israelis and Italians had dressed up the groom-to-be in a bunny outfit and he went around the restaurant selling chocolate eggs to the other patrons. So they aren't too hung up on propriety.

Fortunately, they are hung up on good food. The menu features a selection of starters, many of which are vegetarian, and all of which sound delish. We opted for their salad selection - a tapas-style serving of a dozen or so different salads, served with a warm, soft lavash type of bread. Although we were 4 at dinner, the waiter (thankfully) suggested ordering only enough for 2, since we would all be having main dishes afterwards. It was a welcome suggestion since the salads quickly filled the table - hummus, tehina, cucumber/tomato, spicy tomato salsa, pickles, cauliflower, falafel, you name it. All of it seasoned with different combinations of lemon, mint, pepper, and all the things that make mediterranean food so fresh and scrumptious.

For our main dishes, there were a few orders of fish and one meat. These were a bit of a disappointment, particularly following the fantastic starters. The fish was fine but really nothing to write home about. I bet they could do up some sort of vegetarian main if you were really hankering for it, although nothing appears on the menu. I'd suggest going full-on tapas style, ordering the salad selection for the whole party, throwing in some of the warm starters as well. Or just tell them you're vegetarian and see what they suggest.

We got talking to our waiter (who may also be the owner?), and I asked a very important question: what is their limonana status? For those who don't know, limonana is an out-of-this-world lemonade with fresh mint - actually, that's really all there is to it, and you can make it at home, but it's absolutely the perfect summer beverage (or really at any time of year). The bad news is that they don't have it. The good news is that they don't have it - yet. A machine is on order so I can soon get my fix. Meanwhile, you can make do with their decent wine list, including some Israeli kosher wines - a pleasant surprise for us.


Chaussée de Waterloo 510
1050 Ixelles
Tel: 02/345.80.08
Open every day! 12h-15h & 18h-22h30 (Fri/Sat til 23h)

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