What have Francois Hollande, Jean-Michel Jarre and Julio Eglesias in common?
Struggling? Well, if it helps Richard Branson, Bruce Springsteen, Kody and Eddy Merckx have all done the same.
The answer is that each have dined at L’Ecailler du Palais Royal, a lovely restaurant in the equally lovely Sablon quarter of Brussels.
A quick glance at the restaurant’s website will inform you of the glittering guest list it can boast, including all of the above and lots more besides. On the site, many are photographed in the delightful surroundings of this historic eatery.
It is easy to see why such a VIP line up was (and still is) attracted to this place. Both the cuisine and ambience are superb.
For the uninitiated, the speciality here is very much seafood.This ranges from a selection of fish, plus crustaceans and other seafood, including oysters, lobsters, langoustines, sea bass and wild turbot.
All normally feature on the a la carte and also the three fixed menus: a 3-course option at €49 (available only at lunchtime); one with four courses priced €85 and, if you want to push the boat out, a six-course offering called “Menu Surprise.” Both of the latter are served at lunch and dinner.
The main card is changed regularly while the fixed options are rotated every month or so.
The evening starts with a lovely appetiser (carrot soup and beetroot and apple) which nicely sets the scene for what’s to follow.The fish is seasonal and, of course, fresh but if sole,lobster, shrimps and St Jacques doesn’t happen to be your fancy there are also good meat choices (currently, venison and beef filet). The chef can also prepare veggie dishes on request.
You can wind things up with one of the lovely deserts on offer. There is also a fantastic selection of wines, quite moderately priced given the high quality.
For the last couple of years the head chef has been Cedric Cnudde with Brussels-born Antoine Cogels, his young number two. Cedric has created the menu and splits his time between this restaurant and a second one, the newly restored Maison du Cygne on Brussels’ Grand Place, which has the same owner.
Of course, behind every successful operation is a hard working team and, apart from the chefs, others here merit a mention for the standard of their service: Michel, who’s been here 15 years and his younger and very pleasant colleagues,Theo, from Brittany, and his partner Irene, who are newcomers, having worked here for only a couple of months or so.
The restaurant has been widely lauded including by Deltaweb which praises its “alluring wine list and stylish service.” One Trip Advisor comment says it serves “fish at its most delicate” and another says “treat yourself and maybe a very lucky companion”. Another notes, “This restaurant is a classic in Brussels.”
This old, but renewed, restaurant is ideally located at the heart of the city’s picturesque antique dealers district, at the foot of the Sablon Church, in a magnificent heritage listed house.
Opened in 1967, it quickly became an institution that, over the past 50 years, has welcomed royal family members, celebrities, international political figures and world renowned chefs.
It features cosy tables and a stylish bar on the ground floor, done out in unusual turquoise colours and said to have the ambiance of a private club. The upper floor (coral is the colour here) is arguably more intimate, and perfect for private events (up to 30 persons). The restaurant’s size is unchanged since its construction.
It was founded by a famous Belgian restaurateur, Marcel Kreusch, who drew his inspiration from a restaurant in London serving only fish, shellfish and crustaceans. It’s also close to prestigious institutions like the European Union, the Belgian Prime minister office, the Justice Palace and Belgian Parliament.
The building itself dates to the 17th century – it started out as a humble pub – and is located in a historic zone. Indeed, its story reflects the history of Sablon which, in the 1960s inspired the phrase “sablonisation” – a local word for gentrification.
Its historic, architectural and artistic value was recognized in 2005 when the building was given heritage listing status by the Belgian authorities. Without a doubt this is food at its most excellent, served in a very relaxing and historic location.
Given its VIP guest list, it’s also a must-visit if you like rubbing shoulders with the famous!