As soon as the sun comes out, Brussels terraces pull out all the stops. They can be discreet and confidential, trendy, have a southern feel, lie by the water's edge or offer stunning views of the city.
A drink with colleagues, brunch with friends, a romantic drink for two... any occasion is the perfect occasion to sit back and enjoy the sun on a terrace in Brussels.
Sunglasses at the ready!
Having had various reincarnations since the 1870s, Chalet Robinson has undeniably regained its lustre of yesteryear. Open to the pubic again for less than a decade now, the establishment welcomes numerous families in an absolutely unique setting. A flat barge takes you backwards and forwards across the pond. And once you set foot on Robinson island (and we are not joking), all that is left for you is to enjoy yummy waffles or crêpes to the fullest. Worth mentioning is their intruiging selection of Belgian beers.
The menu has undergone a major makeover and gives prominence to some seasonal products and poultry, amongst others from the Gers region.
If you feel like it, you can even lean back and relax in one of the many deckchairs. It is a great place to laze around and enjoy a breather, so near and yet so far away from the hustle and bustle of the city. A quick tip: it's best to book your “place in the sun” because people flock from far and wide to what is undoubtedly be called one of the most whimsical places in Brussels.
Open every day
Trendy, mysterious and breathtaking are the words that best epitomize Cospaia. Nestled up high in the Louise neighbourhood, the restaurant has been tastefully decorated in moody black and white tones. Extremely fashionable and brimming with originality, the place is nothing short of impressive. Last but not least, from the massive terrace (which can seat up to 80 guests), the view of Avenue de la Toison d’Or and The Hotel will simply blow you away. It's a dream location for a nice relaxing drink.
The rather delightful cooking remains true to the classics of French cuisine and is more affordable than you might expect given the setting. Please note the 3-course menu at only €49. The wine list isn’t too long, it's representative and full of well-selected wine.
Open Monday to Friday, lunchtime and evening. Saturday, only in the evening
The designers dressed up the interior walls of 5-star Sofitel Le Louise with a fairly ingenious oriental structure. It is an unexpected combination of sleek design and comfy tradition. Crystal Lounge is well worth the detour and possibly even more for the terrace alone. Capable of hosting up to 100 guests, the extra large patio is the perfect spot to sit back and relax in town. Whether for lunch, fine dining or just a drink with friends, the tables and armchairs neatly set around an Asian-inspired fountain are the ideal place to just lay back and enjoy.
There’s a hint of Paris on the hotel's beautiful rooftop terrace where the only perceptible sound comes from the nearby bell tower. On pleasant summer evenings though, it’s quite the opposite with glamour and exclusive parties taking over the venue.
Open every day lunchtime and evening, except on Saturdays and Sundays at lunchtime
The know-how and audacity of top chefs Michel Borsy and Alex Joseph have put Rouge Tomate back on the map! The SPE (“sanitas per escam” or "health through food" in English) philosophy runs all the way through the menu and is as important as ever. With one additional asset however: the dishes have even more taste, aroma and colour and therefore perfectly match the contemporary interior design of this gorgeous townhouse.
Another major plus of the establishment is its impressive terrace which includes a cocktail bar. "Spacious, fabulous, unexpected"... superlatives can't quite do the setting justice. In a nutshell, it's a lovely place to have lunch or spend an evening wining and dining.
Open Monday to Friday, lunchtime and evening, and Saturday evening
The hotel gets its name from the Dominican monastery that stood on this spot in the 15th century. Traces of this religious past are still very much present today in the structure of the building. The central courtyard, in the heart of The Dominican, surrounded by a cloister, complete with cross-ribbed vaulting, is an invitation to pause and reflect.
As for the interior design, no effort has been spared to turn the place into a major player in the Brussels hotel market.
Next to the cocktail bar, the restaurant Grand Lounge serves up international and succulent dishes: linguine with cherry tomatoes, basil and Parmesan cheese; monkfish tagine with lemon confit and green olives or knuckle of lamb in red wine confit with a polenta gratin.
Open every day, lunchtime and evening
La Villa Lorraine
This superb villa on Drève de Lorraine has been devoted to gastronomy since 1953 and not surprisingly La Villa Lorraine is something of a pioneer among the city’s top kitchens. Since 2010 the decor has had a major face-lift and Alain Biachin has been behind the steering wheel in the kitchen.
You are served carefully selected seasonal products, beautifully showcased by sometimes inventive and sometimes conventional, but invariably refined culinary preparations. This of course is reflected in the price.
The terrace, at the edge of the wood, is vast and beautiful.
Villa: open Tuesday to Saturday, lunchtime and evening
Brasserie: open Monday to Saturday, lunchtime and evening
Vini e Cucina
With more places outside than inside, Vini e Cucina has been an institution for over a decade. Such huge terraces are indeed in short supply in Brussels. Pleasantly crowded and joyfully active, it's the ideal place to meet up and have a good time with family and friends around modern Italian dishes. You should try the Cartoccio alla pescatore and the irresistible pizzas.
Prices for both food and wine are reasonable. It's the kind of relaxed place you will gladly hang out at and cherish for years to come.
Closed Saturday lunchtime and Sunday
This selection was made by René Judak (www.youpiwine.be). You can find these addresses, among many others, in the book “BRUXELLES terrasses”, published by 180° Editions. Available in book shops.