Sunday, 22 April 2012


I was seriously impressed by the standard of the food and drink in Antwerp so I felt this food-porn post a necessity. Unlike my recent trip to Madrid where we really had to hunt to find something delicious to eat, every single restaurant we walked into in Antwerp had something good on offer (even a café near the train station turned out to have the best goats cheese salad rather than the Wetherspoons fare we were expecting). I think I must just be a Northern soul. Apart from Italy, I always discover my favourite restaurants in Scandinavia, Germany and the Benelux.

On the first day we had a quick snack and beer in Zoro where we were reminded just how good Belgian fries and mayonnaise could be. I don't know what they put in that mayonnaise but the effect is like crack cocaine. These accompanied my fantastically light quiche and the others' unusual sandwich combinations (chicken+ham+prawns+egg??). Beer became a theme for the rest of the trip and we attempted to taste all the varieties between us over the next three days. Another theme that started at Zoro was requesting the free wifi password – every restaurant had one!

We found the Brasserie Van Loock around the corner from our hotel, on Dageraadsplaats. Apparently the square is a favourite of local artists and celebrities and, although the clientèle seemed rather more mundane when we were there, I could see why. The salads and fresh fish dishes of the day were surprisingly yummy given the surroundings. The mayo was out of this world.

Our other favourite find was the restaurant inside Renaissance, a fashion store adjoining the Antwerp Modemuseum. The décor of bright white walls, huge windows and simple planting was chic and exactly what I'd wanted for my birthday lunch. The menu has an Italian theme (I had the melanzana) but with Belgian classics thrown in for good measure. I couldn't get enough of the crème of asparagus soup, while Charlie quickly became a crème brûlée addict. It's also the best spot in town for people watching, or being watched yourself.

After last night's humongous meal at Cecconi's with my family (a great event for a sad occasion), I have no idea how I can even stomach looking at these photos...