Happy Tuesday blog friends! How is everything going?
This past weekend was unreal, but sadly today it’s time to say goodbye sunshine and hello office. Sometimes (actually, all the time) I wish adults had summer break. Instead there’s just piles of work waiting to be done, regardless of the weather. Ohh, the nuisances of being an adult. I guess if we can’t be outside playing in the sun, we might as well be reminiscing about playing outside in the sun. So let’s kick off the week with Brussels adventures Part 2, a somewhat sunny and very Belgian tale.
The first half of our Brussels adventure was spent beer sipping and tapas tasting, and by mid-afternoon, B and I were convinced we should have booked a hotel. We had not been planning to stay the night, but there were just too many delicious beers to sample in such a short 12-hour timeframe! If we had booked a hotel, we would have headed back to kick up our feet for an hour or two before exploring the city by night, but as we had already paid for our return train tickets back to Amsterdam later that evening, we decided to pass on the hotel and dive into some retail therapy instead.
We walked through a stunning marble mall, lined with luxury shops, followed by a very generic mall, where B bought a sweater from New Look and I picked up some cute accessories for this summer. We then stumbled across this awesome vintage boutique, Stefantiek.From the outside, you might suspect Stefantiek’s interior to be filled with man-junk. The kind of treasures you find out back in the woodshed, or in an old rusty graveyard of automobile parts. But inside, we discovered a wealth of gems that would perfectly satisfy the ladies as well – large, antique bird cages, fine upholstered furniture, and vintage, bad-ass motorbikes. At first, the shop seemed small. The space is cramped with knick-knacks, and mobility is limited due to tight passage ways through tall stacks of junk. We wandered from the front room, and then into a secondary back room.But after the second room came a third room, and then a fourth and a fifth. Before we knew it, we were lost in a thick maze of antiques, with winding corridors and even a staircase leading up to a second floor of vintage glory!Stefantik is the kind of shop where you feel very, very rude taking a photo. I snuck my camera out once or twice, but the antique dealers who ran the shop were very astute, guarding over their loot with a hawk-like eyes. I wish I could show you better photos of the chairs hanging from the ceiling, or the piles and piles of Victorian lamp shades. Most items in the shop were quite reasonably priced, and B and I joked about coming back with a big van if we end up in an unfurnished apartment, or even at our own house in Amsterdam – Stefantik is a great place to start filling your blank canvas home.
I HIGHLY recommend a stop by Stefantik if you’re in Brussels. From the website, it would seem there are a few spots in town, but the location I visited and can vouch for is at Chapelle 6, 1000 Brussels. And their phone number is +32 (0) 494 100 589, incase you get lost ;)
After spending almost an hour in the definitely haunted antique shop, we burst out into the Brussels sunshine.
The skies were still blue, and we decided it was time for chocolate.A colleague had recommended Pierre Marcolini, stating that they served up the best chocolate in Belgium. Despite being quite pricy, B and I filled up a little bag of tasters (two of each) so we could tour through some of the shop’s most popular sweets.The caramels were absolutely divine, but thankfully we didn’t get to these guys until we were sitting on the train, on our way back to Amsterdam. If we had sampled the caramels while still in Brussels, it would have been straight back to the shop for us, to stock up on more!We made a quick stop in Godiva, because I *thought* this was my favorite chocolate shop. I stocked up on chocolate bars, only to realize right after paying that my favorite chocolate is actually Ghirardelli (don’t worry the chocolate didn’t go to waste – but a total blonde moment, still!!) I guess I was too hypnotized by Godiva’s spinning vats of warm, molten chocolate to notice!!
We roamed the streets for another hour or two, burning off the beer (and chips and chocolate) and taking in the sights.We’d made a dinner reservation for 6.30pm at Aux Armes de Bruxelles, but we had a bit more time to kill before turning up for our evening meal. So what did we decide to do?More beer! In my last Brussels post, I mentioned that we stopped for a drink at Delirium Cafe. Well, we stumbled upon another Delirium Cafe (pictured here) which left me wondering, which Delirium Cafe is the real Delirium Cafe?!? The proud pink elephant logo was present at both cafes we poked in, but then, neither of them resembled the photos visible on Trip Advisor. So really, who knows where we were, or what we were drinking, of if there’s a THIRD Delirium Cafe we missed. The beer was cold and good, so no complaints here – cheers!After our drink we wound down a very packed road, swarming with noisy tourists, lined with over-priced restaurants. It was the kind of street where the waiters stand outside, shouting out the specials and beckoning you inside. B and I were a bit skeptical when we discovered our dinner reservation was actually at a restaurant on this street! Thankfully, Aux Armes de Bruxelles was a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of the busy tourist street, offering a relaxing dinning atmosphere with just a touch of elegance..
We had arrived a bit early, and the roomy, beautiful restaurant was empty. Fast forward two hours and every table was full, with wishful diners being turned away at the door. B and I plumped for the 3 course set menu and then waited patiently for our first course to arrive. ^ ^ Hungry man!!
B got the smoked duck salad and I went for the scallop mousse with champagne butter. B’s salad was delicious. . .
. . . but the scallop starter was slightly too rich for me. However, B loved it, and I can’t say I minded sopping up the melted champagne butter with the warm, fresh bread brought to the table.For our mains, I got the duck and B got a thick-cut steak with fries and béarnaise sauce. The duck was good, but I think I preferred the smoked duck in B’s starter. Also, the béarnaise sauce was a bit of a let down. I haven’t ordered béarnaise sauce since our trip to Paris a few months ago, and while the béarnaise sauce at Aux Armes de Bruxelles wasn’t terrible, I was not spooning it into my mouth like soup, like I embarrassingly was at Au Pied de Cochon!Dessert was by far my favorite part of the meal, as it often is! B got creme brûlée (which was to die for) and I went for the chocolate covered waffle (we were in Belgium, after all!!) The waffle was a bit too crispy around the edges, but the middle was soft and delicious, and the chocolate sauce was excellent!Overall, I do not think I would return to Aux Armes de Bruxelles. While the food wasn’t bad, I’ve definitely had better, and none of the six menu items we ordered were really stand-out spectacular. The atmosphere was lovely, and eating there was a fun experience, but I think next time we will save the high-dinning for Paris, and stick to big pots of mussels and fries when in Belgium!Absolutely stuffed to the brim, we strolled through the city center for one last goodbye. The sun was setting, and bright rays illuminated all of the tallest buildings in the square. It was a lovely sight to bid farewell, and I have a feeling we will definitely be back again soon!xo Ali