When I arrive my friend is already shivering in front of Café Monk. Tonight Café Monk is heaving. I like it in there too but tonight it looks overrun, forcing raucous patrons to speak loudly to be heard over the din. Not the best place for a first date, as I know from experience. I prefer the smaller bruin café just a couple of minutes away.
My objective for the evening had been to try some new beers, and on the list there are several that are unfamiliar. My housemate told me they speak Flemish here. The pretty bar girl, with her bat-wing eyeliner and tiny waist, definitely prefers Flemish or English. I can only order two hot chocolates in Flemish, and the first time I tried that I received two cappuccinos instead. English it is then. I order a new beer, and it's really good, but later on leaving we realise we've both forgotten its name! Next time I will note it down, because I've yet to notice this beer anywhere else.
Everyone squishes up at little tables: regulars and new faces. The place has a lefty Bohemian air: a copy of Libération is casually discarded on a table beside me, and there are a mix of young students with dreadlocks and untidy hair, and slightly older groups who are more mysterious and resist attempts at stereotyping, but I suspect they like jazz. My hair is also not at its best, but I like the fact that nobody pays you any attention, certainly no more than you deserve, and nor are you made to feel unwanted either. We listen to 60s classics and more Miles Davis. Later, we shift up on our bench to make space for a lady with a sharp dark bob and strong jaw, above eyeliner, leather jacket, and patterned tights in clumpy boots. I notice her hands are masculine; she sits dreamily and writes in her book.
When we leave Au Daringman the cobbles are greasy with rain, and it's disappointingly, unseasonably, unsociably cold. A few minutes later, we are relieved to arrive at our next bar........
rue de Flandre 37
+32 (0)2 512 43 23
Au Daringman is also open lunchtimes Tuesday to Friday. I've heard that sometimes there are concerts upstairs in the evenings.