Brussels enjoys a very long gourmet tradition, and its international influence cannot be overstated. Incidentally, it was in Brussels in 1972 that the Michelin Guide first awarded three stars to a restaurant outside of France. It happened to be the Villa Lorraine and this establishment still remains a jewel in the European capital's gourmet heritage crown today. There are more than 100 Michelin-starred restaurants within 100 kilometres of Brussels, and the city itself boasts five two-star eateries and thirteen one-star restaurants.
Among these five houses endowed with two stars, without a doubt the oldest and best known is Comme chez Soi. Led to the top by Pierre Wynants and three-starred from 1979 to 2006, this Brussels temple of gourmet cuisine frequented by royalty, celebrities, and connoisseurs remains firmly anchored in the present through the talent of Lionel Rigolet. Pierre Wynants's son-in-law, he took over in 2006 and has gradually shifted the style toward contemporary cuisine without excluding certain legendary dishes by his illustrious predecessors.
Away from the hubbub of the city centre, Chalet de la Forêt is nestled in a lush green setting well suited to its Chef, Pascal Devalkeneer, allowing him to express his nuances in harmony with the plants, seasons, and fine products.
Christophe Hardiquest has managed, by dint of unsung work and self-sacrifice, to make his Bon-Bon a flagship establishment for the entire Belgian scene. Gault-Millau has also awarded him a grade of 19.5/20, so far matched only by Peter Goossens of Hof van Cleve. He works every day in his kitchen in full view of the dining room on an unending quest for sublime taste perfection.
Yves Mattagne of Sea Grill has built his reputation mainly by working with sea food. He demonstrates unusual mastery of nuanced and flavourful cuisine, sometimes enhanced with subtle Asian influences.
Alexandre Dionisio's Villa in the Sky joined the exclusive two-star restaurants club just one year after opening in late 2014. The spectacular installation of this outgoing sister to the Villa Lorraine, literally lowered onto the roof of one of the tallest buildings in Brussels, combined with the chef's delightful talent quickly made it part of the culinary canon. Here, the panoramic view is as much a part of the show as the food.
Brussels also displays an enticing variety through the eclectic series of one-star restaurants enclosed within its walls. There are indeed great timeless establishments like Bruneau, the Villa Lorraine or Le Passage, David Martin's inimitable success La Paix, Kamo's exotic Japanese cuisine, the jovial Sicilian soul of Giovanni Bruno from Senzanome, his fellow Italians Da Mimmo and San Daniele, the fine French cuisine of Pigeon Noir or Monde Est Petit the divine revelation that is Isabelle Arpin at the helm of Alexandre, the improbable executive of WY, the second establishment of two-star chef Bart de Pooter, or even truffle nirvana as intended by Luigi Ciciriello at the Truffe Noire.
But Brussels does not rest on its starry laurels, far from it. From countless high-quality restaurants, let us name just a few that enjoy an especially glowing reputation:
When David Martin launched Karen Torosyan at his second location, the Brasserie Bozar, he probably never imagined it would be such a big hit with its cuisine that pays homage to the great historical dishes of French gourmet tradition. Elected World Champion of Pâté en Croûte in 2015, Karen was credited for the incredible tours de force that are her pies, hare à la royale, and legendary Fair Aurora's Pillow in addition to his already famous pâté-croûte.
For his part, Damien Bouchery turned his Bouchéry into a Brussels essential. Just like Nicolas Scheidt at La Buvette or Erwan Nakata at Gramm, it offers a unique menu, inspired by the seasons and by rigorously selected products from producers who share their same vision for cuisine and their same values.
When Sang Hoon Degeimbre decided to open San in the heart of Brussels, he quite logically entrusted its ovens to Toshiro Fujii, who was his second in command at L'Air du Temps for a long time. San, it is a formula that hits the mark: an ultra-short menu of dishes served in a bowl to be enjoyed, armed with nothing more than a single spoon. Eschewing gadgets, this approach allows one to concentrate on the basics of extraordinary cuisine with its intelligence, originality, and excellent taste.
Of course, it would be a shame to stop there, as curiosity is often well rewarded when one walks through the door of any of our other area restaurants.
Bon-Bon, Avenue de Tervueren 453, 1150 BRU | http://bon-bon.be/
Châlet de la Forêt, Drève de Lorraine 43, 1180 BRU | www.lechaletdelaforet.be
Comme Chez Soi, Place Rouppe 23, 1000 BRU | www.commechezsoi.be
Sea Grill, Rue Fossé aux Loups 47, 1000 BRU | www.seagrill.be
La Villa in the Sky, Avenue Louise 480, 1050 BRU | www.lavillainthesky.be
Alexandre, Rue du Midi 164, 1000 BRU | www.restaurant-alexandre.be
Bruneau, Avenue Broustin 73-75, 1083 BRU | www.bruneau.be
Da Mimmo, Avenue du Roi Chevalier 24, 1000 BRU | www.da-mimmo.be
Kamo, Chaussée de Waterloo 550a, 1050 BRU | www.restaurant-kamo.be
Le Monde Est Petit, Rue des Bataves 65, 1040 BRU | www. lemondeestpetit.be
La Paix, Rue Ropsy Chaudron 49, 1070 BRU | http://lapaix1892.proximedia.com/
Le Passage, Avenue J&P Carsoel 17, 1180 BRU | www.lepassage.be
Le Pigeon Noir, Rue Geleytsbeek 2, 1180 BRU | www.lepigeonnoir.be
San Daniele, Avenue Charles Quint 6, 1083 BRU | www.san-daniele.be
Senzanome, Place du Petit Sablon 1, 1000 BRU | www.senzanome.be
La Truffe Noire, Boulevard de la Cambre 12, 1000 BRU | www.truffenoire.com
La Villa Lorraine, Avenue du Vivier d’Oie 75, 1000 BRU | www.villalorraine.be
Bouchéry, Chaussée d’Alsemberg 812a, 1180 BRU | www.bouchery-restaurant.be
Bozar Brasserie, Rue Baron Horta 3, 1000 BRU | www.bozarbrasserie.be
La Buvette, Chaussée d’Alsemberg 108, 1060 BRU | www.la-buvette.be
Gramm, Rue de Flandre 86, 1000 BRU | www.grammrestaurant.be
San, Rue de Flandre 19, 1000 BRU | http://sanbxl.be/
WY Brussels, Rue Bodenbroek 22-24, 1000 BRU | www.mercedeshouse.be