L’Achepot — Brussels, Belgium

Are you looking for vegetarian food in Brussels?  That’s the situation I found myself in recently, having jumped on a surprisingly cheap fare to Belgium.  I was staying at the Marriott Brussels, a nice centrally located hotel.  For lunch the first day, my friends and I wandered into the Saint-Catherine neighborhood, where we stumbled on L’Achepot.  If you’re looking for vegetarian food in Brussels, I’d recommend it.

L’Achepot is a “slow food” restaurant.  I don’t know what the this particular restaurant means in using that term — Slow Food International describes it as “an idea, a way of living and a way of eating”.  We chose L’Achepot because they had a “Veggie plate” on the menu, but the proprietor was very nice and I’m sure she would have accommodated a request even if there wasn’t something on the menu.

Our amuse bouche was a small cup of chicory soup with some bread.  The soup was creamy and had an interesting texture, and the chicory was quite bitter.  It was pretty unusual — I don’t think I could have had much more than this small amount, but it was an nice start to the meal.

My first course was a potato and cauliflower salad.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but it wasn’t this.  It was very good, though.  The salad was served chilled, and the crunchy cauliflower went well with the softer potato.

My main course was the “veggie plate”.  Again, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting, again in a good way.  This was a cast-iron pot full of vegetables — mostly winter vegetables, like carrots, squash, etc. — that had been cooked for what I assume was a very long time (I’m inferring this from the “slow food” . I say that because the flavors had really melded together.  The vegetables had distinct textures, but not really distinct flavors at this point; it was almost as if the vegetables had merged into one super-vegetable.  Well, maybe not, but the vegetables were also over-salted, so the salt overwhelmed the flavor.  I thought the veggie plate was solid, though it could have been better.  Less salt probably would have done the trick, or a wider range of vegetables (or both).

Dessert was an apple crumble with ice cream.  The apples were good, but there was a little too much “crumble”.  Also, I thought there was too much ice cream for the size of the dessert.  Some more apple would have done the trick.

All in all, L’Achepot was a pretty good experience.  In my experience, restaurants in Europe are often not as accommodating of vegetarians as restaurants in the U.S. (especially in a place like New York).  L’Achepot gets credit for having a vegetarian options on the menu for each course, and the options themselves were interesting and not the same old stuff.  On the other hand the flavors were a little off.  And, the place is pretty pricey.  Our lunch for four, with wine, came in at  €191, or about $250.  (Reviews on TripAdvisor agree.) All that said, if you’re looking for good vegetarian food in Brussels in a cute little restaurant, L’Achepot would be a very good choice.

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