Non-touristy, traditional Belgian fare at Brussels’ Taverne du Passage [classic article]

The Saint-Hubert Royal Galleries in Brussels, Belgium have been an epicenter of luxury shopping and chic living for well-to-do bohemians since 1850. It’s a glassed-in warren of arcade passages, the first enclosed shopping malls, if you will. Because of that, they’re mobbed with throngs of people and puppies both day and night. It’s surprising, then, that there’s a restaurant that’s hidden in plain sight, a destination for locals in the know: Taverne du Passage in the Queen’s Gallery. I was very happy to be hosted to experience it!

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The place is brightly lit inside — with little tables on the “outside” — more bistro than “tavern”. People in Brussels eat later than is common in the US: 9 pm seatings aren’t considered unusual. The restaurant serves all the Belgian favorites here: steak frites, Belgian mussels, waterzooie, the baby gray shrimp, etc. I started with rich, beautifully cooked bone marrow, properly roasted.

For my main course, I ordered Sole meunière. According to Wiki, that’s

“a classic French dish consisting of sole, whole or fillet, that is dredged in milk and flour, fried in butter and served with the resulting brown butter sauce and lemon. Sole has a light but moist texture when cooked and has a mild flavour. Since sole is a flatfish, a single fish will yield four fillets rather than the two fillets that a roundfish will produce. When preparing sole meunière, a true Dover sole is preferred.”

The fish was perfectly fresh, delicate and tasty.

Belgians are a friendly, outgoing lot. As it happens, I was seated next to some curious locals who noticed my note and picture taking. Soon, we were all drinking Belgian witbiers together and fast friends.

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