This one is already well known on the Brussels bars circuit and I had never done more than poke my head inside, because every time I happen to pass it is heaving. It's run by the fourth generation of the Vossen family, and is named after the individual who managed to lose the final quick card game of the lunch-break, before returning to work. This story goes back about 80 years, and I couldn't see anyone playing cards on my visit. But I'll believe what the menu told me.
Once inside the first thing I notice is the happy absence of cigarette smoke - and then the noise! For a moment I am unsure where I am: the loudness, the long rows of people and incessant chatter make me think I'm in a Bavarian beer hall, but all the voices I pick out are speaking English in an American accent. From where in America, I couldn't say (I've never been any good at accents), but I'd like to think they were from North Carolina, or perhaps from a German bar somewhere in Texas. Undeterred I forge a way through the mass of people and tables and make my way to the only free patch in the whole space. I'm seated centimetres from couples at other tables, but there's no hope of eavesdropping any conversation other than my own.
We're served by a friendly, buxom lady and we watch others drinking their beers along with cheese on sticks (no pineapple, sadly!) to soak it all up. The atmosphere is bright and jovial and stimulating. I like it.
Unsurprisingly, the beer offering in A la Mort Subite is pretty good. As well as Gueuze, you can have Grimbergen (blonde, brune and dorée) and trappists such as Chimay, Orval and the fearsome Rochefort 10 and Westmalle Triple. There's also the ominously- titled "Foreign beers", though I've no idea why you would want one of those....
On the way here we pass through the stylish Galerie de la Reine and I admire the Christmas lights. Hang on a minute, what month are we in? Ah, still only late January? Well we can expect to pass more lights and bald, discarded Christmas trees on pavements for another month yet. In this international city nobody gets superstitious.
Rue Montagne aux Herbes Potagères 71000 Brussels
02 513 13 18