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, September 21, 2012

Volle Gas

I'm back from holidays, rejoining the blogosphere!  What an adventure I've had.

I hardly know where to start.  One of the first things I did upon my return was head out for some Belgian food - after so many days on trains, in hostels, on the road, I was craving a good beer and a good steak.  I hadn't been to Volle Gas for ages, but I remembered that they offer a wide selection of Belgian and other filling dishes.  My pilates teacher had also taken a large family group here and said the staff had coped well, so I thought further reason for a visit.  Volle Gas means something like "à toute vitesse", or "full steam ahead!"

But what else did I miss about Belgium on my long trip abroad?  Well the food on my travels was filling and hearty (as you'd expect in a country that gets bone-chillingly cold in Winter, and wasn't exactly warm in Summer either...).  But this is a quick resume of my favourite things drink that I sought out as soon as I returned.....  Wasting no time of course:

  1. Orval - No, it didn't take long to seek out my favourite beer.  This is the beer that prompts the raising of male eyebrows when they see me drinking it, and (I like to think) a certain respect - well from men of a certain age, anyway.  Tends to sell out in supermarkets worryingly often.  If you haven't visited the abbey a trip there is particularly pleasant in the Autumn, when the leaf colours down in the Ardennes are beautiful.
  2. Super des Fagnes - Not very widely available in Brussels' bars.  If you see it on the list, try one!  Also comes in a very satisfying class with a feminine curve.  I like the blonde.
  3. Leffe Brune - Not a very unusual choice, but a favourite nevertheless, and potent!  Note that I am not a fan of Leffe blonde.
  4. Triple Carmeliet - A beer possessed of magic powers, or so Becinbrussels likes to claim.  At least drinking a couple of these seems to produce strange effects (in her)!  Effects unique to this beer, I should stress.
  5. Corsendonk - More strong'uns.  They creep up on you.  I also stayed in the Corsendonk priory during one rain-soaked cycling trip.  Another beautiful bottle.  I'm pleased to discover that the Corsendonk makes the list of 1001 beers to try before you die.  Well, that's one ticked off then.  The blond Agnus is described as "spicy and perilously drinkable".  Enough said.
  6. Kwak - aah, that beer, that glass!  If you haven't tried this one, get yourself down to Toone post-haste.
  7. Frit Flagey - No, not beer, but visited in my first week back.  Delicious.
I'd better stop there, for now. I may add to this list later....  I haven't yet got my hands on a bottle of Westvleteren.  My excuse is that reserving and collecting seem complicated, and I don't have regular access to a car.  You could try though - see here for instructions.

So, how did I get on with my steak quest?  Turning up without a reservation is no problem on a weekday evening: we are briskly directed to a table, and everything proceeds swiftly and efficiently (perhaps a little too efficiently!)  Most people are outside on the terrace (Brussels' residents know to make the most of it, when the sun shines), but I like the interior of this bistro-like place, with its many nice touches (waiters in black and white, old bank notes on the walls, a vase of flowers, an old range, plenty of dark wood).  I thought the grey shrimp croquettes were very good.  We shared, attacking them with gusto, and then realised that we should have taken a picture for the benefit of my readers.  Apologies for the yellowish tone, something went wrong.

For my second course, I really should have remembered that quote from Mr. Frites at Le Coq d'Or.  In case you've forgotten what he said to me, it was:
"Moi, un 1kg200, je le mange comme ça.  Comme une entrecôte."
So really I should have gleaned from this comment that an entrecôte is quite big.  Or it is, if Mr. Frites eats one sans problème.  Anyway mine is very good, with its herby butter, and almost seems to cover the whole surface area of the plate.  No matter though, it is good meat, and is dispatched nearly in its entirety.  Meanwhile boyfriend is smugly tucking in to what he thinks is the lighter option, monkfish (lotte), with its perfectly cooked vegetables.  But actually this fish is cooked in so much cream that he is mistaken.  But it's very tasty nevertheless (and not as yellow as it appears here).

We think Volle Gas offers good, consistent food in pleasant surroundings, and plenty of choice (mussels, steaks, Belgian specialities).  There's also a pretty good beer list (a bit on the pricey side, mind you).  It probably comes into its own with groups of 6 or more, when everyone can try something different (really big groups have their own dedicated room).  No space for dessert though!  We also think the chips could be a bit more, well, Belgian.

Allow about 30-40 euros per person for a starter, main course and a couple of drinks.

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