Motoring ahead – that’s this Brussels brasserie

Martin Banks

Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper), The EU Quarter (or “Bubble” as it’s also known) in Brussels is full of places to eat and drink.

But there’s one place that, surely, is quite like no other and that is “Bagnole.”

Why? Because it has a vintage Porsche parked right beside where people have a meal/snack or drink.

This eatery is also located in the same building as one of the city’s and Belgium’s top visitor attractions – Autoworld.

Little wonder, then, that this place is a firm favorite of, among others, the countless Eurocrats who work nearby at the European Commission and EU Council.

It is located just a few minutes walk from both the EU institutions and all the other EU-related organizations in the area, such as the European External Action Service.

A particular favourite for EU civil servants and others is the good value business lunch which is served from Monday to Friday. There are no less than four options on this: starter and main; main; main and dessert or starter, main and dessert.

But “Bagnole” has, in the relatively short time it has been open, become very popular with locals who live in the area and also for the other offerings on its menu.

These include what is called “small bites”, served from Noon to 4 pm, and consisting, as the name suggests, of slightly “smaller” dishes like Old Bruges croquette with truffle, red lentil hummus, and an Angus beef burger.

Yet another possibility is a more expansive menu, comprising a choice of starters, mains, and desserts.  It is served from Noon to 3 pm and, while it is rotated regularly, might include items like creamy chestnuts and marinated salmon for starters; filet of duckling and mushroom risotto and roasted scallops for mains followed by pear confit and caramelized pineapple for dessert. 

Not to be overlooked, there is also a small children’s menu with things like chicken supreme for the little ones.

The menu is, and this a particularly inventive touch, also contained within the “Bagnole Brasserie Newspaper” which also comprises other museum news and info.

There is a particularly big choice of drinks, including a short range of nice wines, bubbles, and liquors. 

The list also features some great Belgian beers such as La Chouffe, Vedett and Liefmans, plus another one called La Cinquantenaire.

The name of this beer is rather appropriate as the brasserie is located right in the heart of the La Cinquantenaire, one of the city’s loveliest parks and one also much frequented by Eurocrats. 

It means you are ideally situated if you fancy a nice walk before (or after) having something to eat – or drink – here (bear in mind that, while it is open 7/7, the brasserie closes at 5 pm).

The interior is similar to the brasseries of yesteryear, with wooden panels, walls full of greenery, and recycled tables and chairs.

The relative “simplicity” of the eating space – notwithstanding the aforementioned Porsche, that is – belies the rather impressive pedigree/background of the chef who is responsible for very tasty offerings here. The head chef is Nelia Andrade who gained her experience in gastronomic restaurants in Brussels. 

She, backed of course by a hard-working young team, has now firmly stamped her unique touch on the kitchen at Bagnole and seeks to offer reinterpretations of Belgian and French classics.

The brasserie is in something of a unique position because you have your very own view of the famous vintage car museum from where you are sitting and also appreciate the design of the building itself.

Many of the people who eat and drink here also visit Autoworld but there are lots of others, such as locals, who pay a visit. Bagnole is, it has to be stressed, not “just” a museum restaurant but also a place accessible even without visiting Autoworld.

It also provides ample spaces for private functions and events, ranging from a group dinner to a stylish large-scale event. Whether it is a simple reception or a walking dinner they can do it all here. And, of course, all the time you are surrounded by one of the best collections of iconic, restored cars in Europe.

The museum currently has an expo (until 25 February) called “Porsche Driven by Dreams” and that, in a way, is what you do when you come to eat or drink at Bagnole.

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Brussels Morning is a daily online newspaper based in Belgium. BM publishes unique and independent coverage on international and European affairs. With a Europe-wide perspective, BM covers policies and politics of the EU, significant Member State developments, and looks at the international agenda with a European perspective.
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Martin Banks is an experienced British-born journalist who has been covering the EU beat (and much else besides) in Brussels since 2001. Previously, he had worked for many years in regional journalism in the UK and freelanced for national titles. He has a keen interest in foreign affairs and has closely followed the workings of the European Parliament and MEPs in particular for some years.