It was, of course, at Waterloo that Napoleon Bonaparte fell to defeat at the hands of the Duke of Wellington.
That was back in June 1815 and, fast forward to 2021, very close to where one of the greatest military strategists in history met his Waterloo another fascinating thing is happening.
OK, this may not be on quite the same historical scale as then but, in its own way, it is a game changer.
A brasserie located adjacent to the famous battlefield has introduced a new concept for eating-out in Belgium.
Brasserie De Waterloo, Chaussée de Charleroi 591, 1410 Waterloo, has a policy of trying to match beers – not wines – with its food.
Its menu lists not only some wonderful dishes but, alongside them, a recommended beer to wash them down.
The policy, relatively new to a country where the norm is for wine matching with food, is going down a treat with the many diners who are flocking to this new restaurant, reopened recently after a massive refurbishment lasting two years.
A second new and exciting initiative adapted here is to encourage diners to “share” some of the dishes. Take, for example, the salmon which is marinated in gin (that is produced on the same site) with a recommendation that it is accompanied by a Bourgogne Des Flandres Grand Cru, a beer that is brewed in Bruges by the same company that runs the brasserie.
Waterloo Triple Blond, a best-selling beer also produced on site, is recommended for another dish, the goats cheese, while Waterloo Double Dark beer is paired with the lamb shank.
Beers, such as Waterloo Farm Pils that can be served with the food are brewed by the same company, adjacent to the brasserie.
They are injected, via a pipeline, the 30 metres or so from the macro-brewery into large tanks which can be seen in the restaurant itself.
There cannot be many restaurants where the source of the drinks you consume are situated quite so close as this.
But it isn’t only beer and gin produced on site. In fact, three different gins, three kinds of whisky (kept in 300 oak barrels) and a total of six beers are produced right here at what is a highly impressive multi-function operation. It’s very innovative and even one of several cocktails served here is made from draught Guinness!
The brasserie itself (very well placed, just off the Ring to Brussels) has undergone a major facelift transforming it into the spacious, informal space it is today. The huge windows afford plenty of light – what a pleasant change that makes – and the subsequent views of the surrounding battlefield where Napoleon met his match are wonderful.
The food itself is equally wonderful, with an a la carte-type choice and also a suggestions list (starter, mains and desert). Importantly, the emphasis is very much on utilising good, locally sourced and produced ingredients in the cooking. The choice is huge, ranging from items such as paella and carpaccio de Thon to tartare de boeuf and gambas (cooked in a special BBQ oven). Look out too for a very nice selection of salads and a small kids menu. The expression, “you are spoilt for choice” can be over-used but not here.
Also, considering the top class quality of the cuisine, prepped by head chef Laurent Monfort and colleagues in an open kitchen, the prices are very affordable, with some items (such as the salmon) starting from just €15.50.
There is also a separate, good value-for-money lunch menu, which changes every fortnight, and if you fancy dropping in just for a short visit in the afternoon, you can avail yourself also of a spot of lovely tapas or ice cream (some of which is infused with red cherry beer!).
If that’s different so too is quaffing one of the fantastic beers served (and made) here which is an event in itself as they are served in rather beautiful specially made ceramic pots (which can also be purchased on the on-site gift shop).
There are also plans to launch a weekday breakfast service soon and, possibly, a light show in the room below the brasserie.
Restaurant manager Jerome Marit, who has worked in the past at Michelin-starred restaurants, says one of the aims has been to offer a highly diversified range of activities on the whole site, which the owners have clearly done brilliantly well.
The brasserie has been open only since June but is already packed on some nights so booking ahead is highly advisable.
About 30 people in total are employed on site so, as well as totally reinventing these former agricultural premises, the owners have, commendably, also done their bit for the local economy. The brasserie can seat about 120 inside and 160 on the huge terrace and there’s also a big car park.
The place, if truth be told, is now a full-on “destination” venue in itself, offering not just the superb brasserie but also a small museum, shop, macro-brewery (visits possible), three meeting rooms and kids playground. It’s a lovely place to spend an afternoon…..finished off with a great meal.
The Duke of Wellington himself would be impressed by what’s been done on the land where he made his name all those years ago.