City wanderings - and a pilgrimage to some of the best eating and drinking spots in Brussels. Or maybe not eating or drinking - ah, oh well.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Les gens que j'aime

I like Les Gens que j'aime.  There's something very endearing about a place which makes an effort, has chosen a 60s theme but hasn't gone overboard with it, and where people tap away on laptops with a tea and bagel beside them, undisturbed.  It's not effortlessly cool or a gourmet's paradise.  But it's relaxed, charming and plays The Doors a short stride away from the Grand Place: welcome respite from acres of cellophane-wrapped boxed chocolates, lacy aprons and thousands of Mannequin Pis corkscrews.  I keep meaning to buy a specimen of the latter for my fridge, but I never seem to get round
to it.  I think it's all to do with my aversion to shops with strip fluorescent lighting. Take me somewhere dark and atmospheric instead!

I headed upstairs, where the lighting does seem a bit strange, as if you're seated in a Berlin museum showcasing an East German 1960s interior.  There are a few bars in Brussels with galleries like this one: L'Archiduc is one, but I also recently discovered Le Bonnefooi (another musical cafe to be featured here at some point).  The waiter did not seem that happy to have to traipse upstairs to serve us, but we lay on the charm by serenading him from the balcony and telling him how we liked it up there with the chandelier.  I sat at a little table with its tablecloth of pyschedelic circles, just managing to fold legs away beneath it while I sipped ginger tea and tried to stop the pot dribbling.  Last time I had a bagel here, with brie, honey, walnuts and apple.  This time I chose - from a small meal selection of bagels, burger, meatloaf and waffles - the lasagne.  Smoke from the kitchen rose to join us: we haven't quite worked out the extractor fan, said our waiter friend as he emerged from the stairway with our food.  He seemed to take to the balcony as well.  And looked pensive when he said that they hadn't been that busy over the Summer.

The lasagne is hot, filling, drowning in cheese and drawing me in.   And the verdict on the assembled bagel-burger?  "C'est bon, mais c'est dur a manger!"  It was plenty-for both of us.  And the place?  Pleasant and relaxed for impromptu lunch or evening gatherings, a short walk away from busier and more touristy venues: the meals cost between 6 and 14 euros.  And, our waiter friend tells us, the venue was formerly two separate houses and a naff chocolate shop.  It goes without saying that I prefer it in its current incarnation.  

Becinbrussels eats bagels, lasagne, anything really!  Just don't expect me to be hungry again until some hours have passed.

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