Belgium does beer cooking—cuisine à la bière—better than any other beer nation. Go to the best places and everything on the menu includes beer as an ingredient—a slow-cooked stew, a quick sauce to go with a steak, game braised in sour beer, Witbier steamed with mussels, Blondes baked into bread, or dark ales stirred through a sweet dessert. Here are some of the best places to visit. ’t Hommelhof (Watouplein 17, 8978 Poperinge) is a fine-dining beer restaurant in Watou, set across the town square from Van Eecke Brewery. Here the food is elegant and high-end, thoughtful and flavorsome, and definitely an elevated, special experience for beer and food. They have a couple of tasting menus, which I recommend, and they do beer-matching for the dishes. They serve Van Eecke’s Hommelbier, a boldly hoppy, grassy, peppery Belgian Pale Ale, and that’s the ideal beer to start with. Chef-owner Stefaan Couttenye has also written a my blog on cooking with Belgian beers. Essential.
Belgium’s Best Beer Cooking Because You Should Eat More Beer Photo Gallery
In Bruges, Bierbrasserie Cambrinus (Philipstockstraat 19, 8000 Bruges) is a famous food stop that serves all the classic beer dishes, such as carbonnade and Trappist cheese croquettes, plus some of their own recipes, including chicken and mushrooms in Oud Bruin and crème brûlée with Dubbel.
De Heeren van Liedekercke (Kasteelstraat 33, 9470 Denderleeuw) is one of the top-rated beer restaurants in the world. The beer-cuisine menu isn’t as extensive as others, but the dishes are exemplary and the beer list is excellent, including aged vintages of many beers. Each dish also comes with a suggested beer pairing, such as their famous house Bolognese with Malheur’s dark ales.
De Drie Fonteinen, the Lambic brewer, has an excellent restaurant in Beersel, just south of Brussels, which specializes in cooking with their own beers, including the traditional dish of rabbit à la gueuze, plus mussels, chicken, and beef cooked in different ways using different beers. It’s all very good. They also have their own beers available on tap and in bottle (Herman Teirlinckplein 3,1650 Beersel, Brussels).
In the center of Brussels, there’s Restobières (Rue des Renards 9, 1000 Brussels), which uses beer in every dish and should be an essential stop for anyone interested in beer cooking. They do the classics, but also have a lot of their own dishes, including some excellent desserts (like passion fruit mousse with Avec Les Bon Voeux). It’s a cozy place with old kitchen utensils all around and a very good beer list. And in a country famous for its frites, Restobieres makes some of the best you’ll find, with a superb homemade mustardy mayo on the side.
Also in Brussels is Niietnigenough (Rue du Lombard 25,1000 Brussels), another rightly well-regarded restaurant that has dishes such as white sausage in Orval and duck breast in Framboise. They have Brasserie Dupont’s Pilsner and Saison on tap, plus a couple of rotating guest beers.
Restobieres offers the best beer and food in a city filled with great beer and food.
Frites and bière, a perfect combination—especially at Restobières.
Five Perfect Belgian Beer and Food Combinations
* Croque monsieur with hoppy Belgian Blonde: A toasted ham and cheese sandwich is a great lunch with the dry hoppiness of a Belgian Blonde, such as Brasserie De la Senne’s Taras Boulba (this is a perfect beer for me: dry, bitter, and aromatic with Saaz hops), being the most refreshing choice.
* Moules frites with Witbier: A classic match. The lively, spicy freshness of a Witbier works so well with the onion, garlic, and celery the mussels will have been cooked in. It’s great with the frites and mayo, too.
* Carbonnade with Dubbel or Quadrupel: Often cooked with sour beer or dark, strong ale, I like the malty richness in a Dubbel or Quadrupel to give some sweetness to balance the savoriness of the stew.
* Sausage and stoemp with Saison or Tripel: Stoemp is potatoes mashed with alliums and other vegetables, normally topped with sausages and Often a beer sauce. Have a spicy, dry Saison or Tripel to lift the veg flavor and cut through the meat’s fat.
* Belgian chocolate mousse with Kriek: A staple dessert and with the fruity tartness in a proper Kriek you’ll enhance the chocolate’s natural fruitiness and then cut the richness with acidity.
Café ’t Smalle, with its position by the canal is at its best in the sunshine.
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