Brussels is a city I've visited more than any other in mainland Europe, and I never get bored of going there – it's been nice to get to know it a bit more than just a passing citybreak, to feel our way round neighbourhoods until they become homely and familiar, to develop favourites out of the many beer cafes, and to be recognised by restaurant staff year in, year out. But we're still always on the lookout for new recommendations too, so that each trip is a mix of returning to regular haunts, and seeking out new places.
So on this trip, as mentioned in my Resolution on Must-Visit Places, I had a new possibility to check out – the Brasserie du Lombard, quite near the Mannequin Pis. This had been mentioned in beer-hunting circles as somewhere that had undergone a change of ownership and re-opened as more of a beer-specialist cafe, with a list of about 70 bottles and a large range of draught. Also it had a really neat vintage arcade games mural by artist Bogaert, so as it was in a handy location (we'd practically pass it each time we went to Moeder Lambic Fontainas) it was a definite candidate for a visit.
We had been for the day to Aalst, and as this was a Brasserie serving basic food, it felt like we could kill two birds with one stone and have our tea there, with the 70 beers to keep us company. So we went in, admired the mural, and got seated, perusing the decent-looking menu, and working out what beers from the draught list we'd like to start with. But it was all downhill from there.
When we could finally attract the solitary server's attention (he was rather absorbed by the football), he shrugged and told me he first three choices I made from the draught list were all off. So I tried to order a winter beer from the 13 'winter specials' listed on the menu, but apparently none of those were in stock either. Feeling a bit deflated, we opted for a Tempelier Ambree (brewed at Corsendonk) and a St Bernardus Abbt 12. When it came to ordering food, it turns out they weren't cooking anything now (this was around 7.30pm on a Friday), and the only options were one of four pasta dishes. The spaghetti Bolognese (a Belgian pub staple) was alright, the Carbonara less so.
So a bit of a disappointment seeing as this was one of the places I was most looking forward to visiting in 2012, but not every adventure will result in something brilliant. At least Moeder Lambic Fontainas was just round the corner so we could rush round there afterwards, and redeem the evening with some beer rewards – De La Senne Zinnebir Christmas, Toccalmatto Skyzoid (they seem to have this on regularly as I had it a few times in here last year too), Rulles Meilleurs Voeux, and a Sainte Hélène Citra Stout – a great find, definitely something to challenge perceptions, and a welcome happy end to the evening.