Recently, I was hosted to experience the Flanders region of Belgium. European hotels have a better breakfast tradition than those in the States, with an abundance of items served buffet-style. I was in several cities, each with its own taste and take on “the most important meal of the day”.
I was able to check out breakfast in:
Breakfast view at Radisson Blu Astrid in Antwerp
An amazing view of one of the world’s most beautiful train stations — Antwerp Central — while dining on the morning breakfast buffet. The view allows you to get a glimpse of several tourist attractions at once.
Belgians enjoy a variety of juices at breakfast, not just the same old OJ. You’ll often find tropical fruit juices, veggie juices and a “multi-fruit” made with concentrates, peel and vitamins added. Great for skin!
Fish at breakfast
I was surprised to see such a variety of fish at Belgian breakfast buffets. After all, the Belgians don’t have the seafaring reputation of say, Scandinavian countries . . .yet, here there was smoked salmon, smoked trout, gravlax.
Delectable Callas jams
At the Marriott in Ghent, the breakfast buffet included several locally made artisan jams by Callas. They were divine and unusual with herbs and rarely seen combinations. Fortunately, they sell them — albeit quietly — at the front desk. A caramel-apple jam is now in my fridge.
Bread at Belgian breakfasts
Freshly baked bread is a high priority at a Belgian breakfast. There’s always a huge variety set out, including rolls and croissants. Some are sweet, some are savory. Many diners like to make a little sandwich at breakfast . . . maybe that’s jet-lag kicking in.
Elegant set accompaniments at Belgian breakfasts
The Pand Hotel in Bruges is an elegant boutique hotel in a chic town. Accordingly, their breakfast set up is that much more upscale. Dark Belgian chocolates for coffee, honeys, cheese spreads, Nutella all make an appearance on a silver tiered caddy.
Gourmet breakfasts at Belgian breakfasts
At Pand Hotel, you can get pancakes made to order with a freshly prepared raspberry coulis. This is the type of gourmet touch one would normally only see at an upscale Sunday brunch.
A little champagne, why not?
At the finest hotels in Europe, you’ll see champagne offered on the breakfast buffet . . .and you can have refills! Again, something you normally only see at upscale Sunday brunch buffets in the US.
Omelette at Bruges’ Pand Hotel
I have, of course, heard so much about European omelettes, but never actually had one. So, I was glad to have the opportunity to try one at Bruges’ Pand Hotel. It’s great to have one that’s expertly made.
At a few places in Belgium, I saw similar red fruit combinations on their breakfast buffets. They generally had raspberries, blackberries, red and black currants, all of which I love! You can put them on yogurt, cereal or eat them by themselves. I ate them at every opportunity, because they’re a good source of antioxidants!
Gourmet cheeses at Belgian breakfast buffets
Belgians especially prize having gourmet cheeses set out for their breakfast buffets. They don’t just put out the cheese; they make a special cheese plate out of the arrangement with fruits and nuts, just like the finest restaurants would do for a cheese course.
Brussels is known for being one of the most sophisticated, worldly cities in Europe, especially now that NATO is based there. The Dominican, a hotel downtown, used to be a Dominican abbey in the 15th century. It’s public spaces are huge and inspiring.