The European Union prides itself of being something of a Babel Tower when it comes to languages and embracing different cultures.
Like the biblical Tower of Babel, Europe’s ambitious construction is rooted in bringing its peoples together, irrespective of their language and background.
The same can be said of Pura, a restaurant that is just about as close as it is possible to get to the “heartbeat” of the EU.
This place is, in itself, something of a mini United Nations, boasting a management team that come from no less than three different countries.
There is Pedro, the owner, who hails from Portugal and his partner Yen Mai, who is of Vietnamese origin. Not forgetting Tanguy, the young head chef who is from Brittany. Another team member is Stefan, also from Portugal.
It seems entirely appropriate that, with the European Commission and council literally on its doorsteps that one of the best restaurants in the city’s EU Quarter boasts such a diverse mix of owners and staff.
Being located in such a position can be a great advantage of course with the EU institutions employing tens of thousands of staff, all of whom need feeding, not least at lunchtime.
But Brussels, as with other cities, is still affected by the trend for homeworking that has taken off as a result of the pandemic. It means that the once reliable lunchtime trade, such a mainstay of many restos in Brussels, not least the so-called EU “bubble” can no longer be taken for granted.
Despite all this, Pura has managed to survive and, with the worst of the health crisis now hopefully behind us at long last, is now hoping for a bright new future under its bilingual team.
Indeed, if you are yet to discover this pleasant eatery just metres from the famous Schuman roundabout, then maybe now would be a good time to start.
The restaurant prides itself on fusion cooking, using only fresh products and its appeal to vegetarians.
Magnificently located on Avenue Michel-Ange, Pura is a restaurant with a concept that is as exciting as it is contemporary and everything here is inspired by three things: passion, impulse and balance.
At the heart of the concept is a four-strong team: Pedro who coordinates the whole project; Yen Mai, who inspires the culinary element while Stefan looks after customer relations. Of course, there is also Tangu whose carefully crafted (and tasty) dishes as beautiful to the eye as they are tasty to the palate.
The interior, both elegant and modern with its black and brown tones, is as bright during the day as it is intimate and warm in the evening. The subtle lighting adds to the ambience and is particularly conducive to a relaxed visit.
Everything here aims to provide diners with an experience that is as serene as it is refined (it should be noted that, for sunny days, the restaurant has a lovely terrace).
Your meal here might start with a cocktail, all of which are as original as they are tasty, largely due to Stefan’s experience in mixology.
There’s also the remarkably elaborate appetizers that begin a meal. Also worth noting is the flavoured butter served at the table, which is the subject of a different recipe each week and is the perfect accompaniment for the excellent organic bread.
The card, the result of Tanguy’s reflection and validated by Yen Mai, changes every week and usually includes a choice of three starters, three main courses and two desserts.
In order to meet, as appropriately as possible, everyone’s expectations, the choice usually includes a fish starter and main course, a meat starter and main course and a vegetarian starter and main course.
A spokesman for the restaurant said, “The main idea here is to offer cuisine that is as natural as possible, made exclusively from fresh ingredients, usually organic and as local as the market allows.”
Creativity is, clearly, the key word here and diners will be impressed by the many flavours from different culinary cultures.
Particular care is taken in the dressings so that each dish constitutes something of a small painting in itself.
The owners’ emphasis of healthy food extends to the restaurant’s organic wines and the concern for more sustainable food reaches down to the wine cellar, which includes exclusively organic wines, mainly of French, Italian and Spanish origin, all selected for their excellent value for money.
If a resto can be judged from the public reviews it receives then this place passes that test very easily
Take, for example, a couple of recent Trip Advisor reviews.
“I went here for the first time, after having passed in front of it many times, and having noticed that it is usually well occupied. There is a reason for that: it is very good.”
And this: “New place, close to Cinquantenaire, plenty of tables in the terrace/dead-end street. Staff is nice and helpful. Worth the price, as food is amazing and well presented.”
The setting is also worth a mention as it is located just opposite the wonderful and aforementioned Parc Cinquantenaire which is ideal for a short walk before or after a meal here.
Considering the quality of the lovely food created by the kitchen team the prices are quite reasonable, particularly compared to local “rivals.”
It is also worth mentioning that, in addition to the actual restaurant, Pura also offers, under the “Beautifood Traiteur” label, an excellent catering service which is popular with the nearby European institutions as well as its large business clientele.
Beautifood defines itself as “the partner of companies and offices seeking a balance between healthy eating and productive work”.
Healthy – and tasty – eating is certainly one thing the owners at Pura are trying to do.
Pura, 85 avenue Michel-Ange, Brussels
T 02 622 2898