What do famous Belgians Amélie Nothomb, Franquin, Stromae and Marouane Fellaini all have in common?
Well, novelist Nothomb, comic artist Franquin, Stomae, the singer, and footballer Fellaini were all born in the Brussels district of Etterbeek.
A newly re-opened restaurant in the commune now hopes to join that illustrious list of famous locals and become well known in its own right, in its case for the quality of its cuisine.
The “1040” is a modern brasserie that takes its name from the post code for the locality.
The pleasantly decorated interior is delicately punctuated with works by the Belgian artist Francis Méan, who was inspired to create his sculptures by the aforementioned Belgian personalities born in Etterbeek.
The restaurant is situated adjacent to the Sofitel Brussels Europe hotel on Place Jourdan, one of the most bustling squares in the city and in the shadow of both the European Parliament and Commission.
The crippling health pandemic dealt a serious blow to trade here, as everywhere, and business is only now slowing picking up after the Government recently gave the green light to restaurants to once again fully open up to customers.
Even so, with so many people in this area, including at the EU institutions, still homeworking, it is still a struggle.
That is not the case on Friday and Saturday nights, though, when there’s a constant flow of customers.
The trick now is to boost trade during the week, including at lunchtimes. But, given the quality of the cuisine and also the service at 1040, this really should not be a problem.
The menu is relatively short but oozes quality with possibly the best option being a three course option (starter,mains and desert) which is a snip at just €37.
Favourite starters include the shrimp and tomato while the best selling mains is the Belgian style Limousin sirloin. It is not hard to see why as both are delicious as is another customer favourites, a mouth-watering meringue.
These all feature on the a la carte list which is very well priced with starters from just €12 and mains from €18.
Some of the ingredients and aromatic herbs used in the dishes are locally sourced and cultivated. They are so local, in fact, that they journey just the seven floors down from the garden on the hotel’s rooftop, which also has a couple of honey-producing bee hives.
The rooftop also currently seats about 30 people and it’s from here that you can also avail yourself of some pleasant cocktails, oysters and/or finger food: just the job with summer upon us (and the views of Etterbeek and beyond are great too).
The ground floor restaurant, which first opened a couple of years ago, currently seats about 40 which, due to current coronavirus-related restrictions still in place, is roughly half the normal figure.
It’s from here that you can observe the lovely work of the Italian-born executive chef and his team, all operating from an open kitchen that overlooks the whole restaurant.
The food is always the main thing at any restaurant – and the cuisine here is top class – but it could also be argued that it is the quality of the service that is equally important.
The good news is that, if you pay a visit to The 1040, you won’t be disappointed by that either. Special mention should to Jasmine, Floreal, the assistant head waiter, and Giovanni who all go out of their way to give guests the best possible welcome.
All operate under the expert stewardship of the restaurant’s consultant Jean-Philippe Watteyne who will is well known through the Top Chef tv show.
The restaurant has benefitted from a new design, new refined decor and, above all, a new menu which also features waterzooi, vol au vent, American, mussels and fries and Brussels waffles.
Its elegant bar is also a lovely place to have an aperitif. Alongside classic cocktails and spirits,there is an impressive selection of Belgian beers.
You’re greeted by shimmering colours of deep blue and orange-red, the tables are well spaced and some spaces can even be privatized.
After the terrible impact caused by the pandemic, the staff here are delighted to be, once again, actually serving customers.
As one says, “It is so good to have customers back – they make us happy.”
Hours: Thursdays and Fridays: service from 5.30 p.m. to 8.30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays: services from 3.30 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. and from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Hotel Sofitel, Place Jourdan