Pl Ste Catherine 1 (tel 02 511 62 21. Métro: Ste Catherine or de Brouckère. Mon-Sat noon-3pm, 6-10.30pm. ?20-32.) A welcoming, family-run restaurant in the trendy Ste Catherine district. Vegetarians would probably have a coronary if they saw the amount of hearty Belgian meat dishes on the menu, but carnivores will find L'Achepot
the ideal place for consuming huge chunks of flesh, especially on cold winter evenings. The menu is traditional Belgian and French and includes lapin à la kriek
as well as a variety of recipes involving tripe.
Ateliers de la Grande Île Rue de la Grande Île 33 (tel 02 512 81 90. Métro: Bourse. Tues-Sun 8pm-1am. Closed Aug. ?20-32.) Only a couple of minutes' walk from place St Géry, located in a converted nineteenth-century foundry, this winding, candlelit, Russian restaurant serves large and hearty meat dishes, and a delicious array of flavoured vodkas. You also get to eat, drink and be merry to the accompaniment of live gypsy violin music. It's worth paying a visit simply for the joyous, if a tad eccentric, atmosphere.
Bla Bla & Gallery Rue des Capucins (tel 02 503 59 18. Métro: Louise. Daily 7pm-11pm. Brunch 10.30am-4pm Sat & Sun. ?20-32.) Bla Bla is the latest Brussels restaurant to take a stab at the suave interior/ nouvelle cuisine combo, with excellent results. Sit back in the leather bench seats and tuck into delicious mozzarella, artichoke and pancetta ravioli or duck carpaccio. While the brick walls and high ceilings keep the noise levels high, the ambience is buzzing and friendly, and there's live piano music during the week. Excellent service too.
Bonsoir Clara Rue Antoine Dansaert 22 (tel 02 502 09 90. Métro: Bourse. Daily noon-2.30pm & 7-11.30pm, Sat & Sun 7-11.30pm. ?20-32.) One of the capital's trendiest restaurants on arguably the hippest street in Brussels. Although part of a group which includes Zebra and Kasbah, Bonsoir Clara has its own identity - moody, atmospheric lighting, 1970s geometrically mirrored walls and zinc-topped tables. The wine list is particularly well chosen, and the food excellent. Expect to find a menu full of Mediterranean, French and Belgian classics and make sure you reserve.
Comme Chez Soi Pl Rouppe 23 (tel 02 512 29 21. Métro: Anneessens. Tues-Sat noon-1.30pm & 7-9.30pm. Closed July & Christmas to Jan 1. Over ?44.) Tucked away in the corner of place Rouppe, near Brussels-Midi train station, Comme Chez Soi is a gastronomic legend. The restaurant's successful blending of new and more traditional French cuisine has cemented the loyalty of an extremely varied clientele, who come to have their taste buds massaged by dishes such as spring chicken with crayfish béarnaise sauce. The three fixed menus on offer are the most "cost-effective" ways to dine, with the four-course lunch costing ?50. Exquisite and discreet service. Reservations are necessary weeks, if not months, in advance.
Domaine de Lintillac Rue de Flandre 25 (tel 02 511 51 23. Métro: Compte de Flandre. Tues-Sat noon-2pm & 7.30-10.30pm. Under ?20.) Delicious cuisine from the southwest of France at this warm, easy-going restaurant. The prices are ridiculously cheap for what could just be some of the best foie d'oie and foie gras in Brussels. Down to earth and full of character, the relaxed ambience and clientele make it perfect for family outings.
Ecailler du Palais Royal Rue Bodenbroeck (tel 02 521 87 51. Tram #94. Mon-Sat noon-2.30pm & 7-10.30pm. Closed Easter & Aug. Over ?44.) Arguably the finest seafood restaurant in Brussels, with refined service and classically elegant decor. A dressy older crowd rules the salles , and while prices are of the gulp-and-swallow variety, a mere mouthful is sure to convince. Solo travellers are well catered for at the English counter.
Le Gourmandin Rue Haute 152 (tel 02 512 98 92. Métro: Louise. Noon-2.30pm & 7-10.30pm. Closed Sat noon, Sun & Mon night & July 15-31. ?20-32.) Situated in a tiny townhouse just below the Palais de Justice, this very intimate restaurant, with only twenty places, serves up French cuisine you won't forget in a hurry. Fine dishes such as succulent garlic-roasted breast of Bresse chicken are delicately prepared in the open kitchen as diners look on. Take a taxi and be sure to reserve.
Iberica Rue de Flandre 8 (tel 02 511 79 36. Métro: Ste Catherine. Mon & Tues, Thurs-Sun 11.30am-3pm & 6.30-11pm. Closed Wed & Aug 5-24. Under ?20.) A Spanish restaurant at the place Ste Catherine end of rue de Flandre, favoured by expat Spanish. The decor verges on the tacky - red velvet-like wallpaper and mock Tudor beams - but the paella is second to none. It's fairly good value for money, with most tapas costing around ?6.
Kasbah Rue Antoine Dansaert 20 (tel 02 502 40 26. Métro: Bourse. Daily noon-2.30pm & 7pm-12.30am. ?20-32.) Popular with a youthful, groovy crowd, this Moroccan eatery is famous for its enormous portions of couscous and other North African specialties. It's run by the same people as Bonsoir Clara next door, and although equally hip, the lantern-lit decor makes it seem slightly less fashion-conscious and far more welcoming. Vibrant atmosphere and set menus from ?18.
La Marée Rue de Flandre 99 (tel 02 511 00 40. Métro: Ste Catherine. Mon-Sat noon-2.30pm & 6-10pm. Closed Sun & Tues night. ?20-32.) There's another La Marée on rue au Beurre, so don't get confused - this one is a pocket-sized bistro specializing in fish and mussels in the Ste Catherine district. Although the decor is pretty basic, it has a cosy feel, and the food is creatively made and reasonably priced. The menu includes eight different types of mussels dishes from ?10, and Burgundy snails and steaks from ?11.
Pasta Basta Rue de la Grande Île 34 (tel 0477/20 20 90. Métro: Bourse. Daily 7pm-midnight. Under ?20.) Situated in the heart of the St Géry area, this pasta-lovers' delight is popular with a young crowd. It serves up a constantly changing menu, as well as staples such as cannelloni with spinach and ricotta. A DJ spins tunes every Friday and Saturday night; the cosy interior barely manages to contain the jumping crowd, zesty cuisine and slamming beats.