Aux Bons Enfants
Pl du Grand Sablon 49 (tel 02 512 40 95. Tram #92, #93, #94. Daily except Wed noon-2.30pm & 6.30-10.30pm. Closed mid-July to end Aug. ?20-32.) A well-established, cosy old Italian place, housed in a seventeenth-century building on the attractive place du Grand Sablon. Expect to find rustic-style decor, classical music and a menu of simple but tasty Italian dishes - steaks, pasta, hearty soups, pizza - at reasonable prices.
Au Chat Perché Rue de la Samaritaine 20 (tel 02 513 52 13. Tram #92, #93, #94. Tues-Fri noon-2.30pm & 7-11pm, Sat 7-11pm. Closed mid-July to mid-Aug. ?20-32.) Just west of place du Grand Sablon, an excellent French resto which serves up very tasty and copious salads, pastas and quiches in pleasant, if a tad chintzy, surroundings. It's a good spot for lunch, and ideal in the evenings for an intimate candlelit dinner. Impressive vegetarian selection, and cheaper than some neighbouring restaurants. Occasional live jazz.
La Grande Porte Rue Notre Seigneur 9 (tel 02 512 89 98. Métro: Anneessens. Mon-Fri noon-3pm & 6pm-2am, Sat 6pm-2am. ?20-32.) On the northern edge of the Marolles near Notre Dame de la Chapelle, and some distance from the métro, this is a long, narrow and cosy old café, whose walls are plastered with ancient posters and photos. The food is good and hearty - stoemp , mussels, carbonnade flamande - and you're quite free to just go for a drink. Be warned, though, that it can get very crowded, and the food can be very slow to arrive.
The Lunch Company Rue de Namur 16 (tel 02 502 09 76. Métro: Porte de Namur. Mon-Sat noon-5pm. Under ?20.) Tucked away on a small street just off the blvd de Waterloo shopping area, The Lunch Co. serves up terrific sandwiches and salads and also does typical English high teas, with scones and delicate salmon and cucumber sandwiches. The decor is minimalist and there's also a superb little garden.
Lola Pl du Grand Sablon 33 (tel 02 514 24 60. Tram #92, #93, #94. Daily noon-3pm & 6.30-11.30pm. ?20-32.) A very trendy restaurant, whose clean lines and dark leather seats reflect the modern and classic French cuisine on offer - including lobster cake with spinach. It's not cheap - main courses are around ?15 - but the food is delicious and the service good. Reservations are a must.
Le Pain Quotidien Rue des Sablons 11 (tel 02 513 51 54. Métro: Louise. Mon-Fri 7.30am-7pm, Sat & Sun 8am-7pm. Under ?20.) One of an extremely successful chain of bakery cafés serving simple but delicious home-baked food such as croissants, quiches and pastries. Expect to find plain wooden decor, ochre colours and a whole range of goodies on sale - chocolate cookies, homemade jams and great coffee. Excellent food and a relaxing atmosphere.
Premier Comptoir Noi Ch de Charleroi 39 (tel 02 537 44 47. Métro: Louise. Mon-Fri noon-2pm, 7-10.30pm, Sat 7-10.30pm. Closed Sun. Under ?20.) A recently opened branch of the the excellent Thai restaurant in Linkebeek, on the outskirts of Brussels. Don't be put off by the bright-yellow facade: behind it is a simple and welcoming interior in which attentive Thai waitresses swiftly serve diners with incredibly spicy raw scampis and red pepper/bamboo chicken at very modest prices.
Au Stekerlapatte Rue des Prêtres 4 (tel 02 512 86 81. Métro: Hôtel des Monnaies. Tues-Sun 7pm-1am. ?20-32.) A famous old brasserie near the Palais de Justice, frequented by a youngish crowd who come for the typical Belgian cuisine - beef casseroles, grilled pork, poulet à la Bruxelles - and friendly atmosphere. Main meals are in excess of ?18, but the food is delicious and the original early twentieth-century bistro decor is an attractive bonus.