Sunday, February 11, 2007

Places to eat and drink

Brussels - The Cirio

When my friends Øivind Grimsmo and Monica Solér Perez stayed in Brussels, they introduced me to Cirio, and it was love at the first sight. When I am in Brussels, once a year I always return to Cirio. A visit in the European capital would not been the same without a glass of Leffe Blonde and a Croque Cirio.

Atmosphere: BBBBB

Situated by the Brussels Stock Exchange, Cirio is a beautiful café with outstanding Art Nouveau decor. Even after a restoration a few years ago, it has still preserved its character. The Cirio interior is a feast for the eye giving you a definite fin-de-siècle feeling. The sofas and chairs are very rustique and provide comfortable seating.

Price: BBBBB

It is not expensive to have a meal and a few beers at Cirio. The total bill rarely adds up to the €20 mark, and the quality of the food is good, but not excellent.

The Service: BBBB

There is a comfortable pace at Cirio, meaning that getting the food takes its time. The service is provided is good, offered by waiters appropriately dressed in black and white, with large black aprons. The menu is translated into several languages so you know what you order. And in the meantime you can enjoy the atmosphere.

The Food: BBBB

The menu offers traditional Belgian dishes as Waterzooi and Lapin au Pruneaux, rabbit stew with prunes. You can also order pastadishes or different Croques, like Croque-Monsieur, Croque Cannibale (beef tartar with raw eggs) or my favourite, the Croque Cirio, with tomatosauce, salami and mozarella. The pasta dishes are often very rich, with a lot of cream and cheese, filling you up completely. This is not refined cuisine, but good, old fashioned cooking.

You get several of the most familiar beer brands as Leffe Blonde and Leffe Brune on draught, and many more varieties bottled. The famous Half and Half cocktail (half champagne and half white wine) was invented here. They also have a good selection of red and white wines and drinks.

Overall Score: BBBB+

If you are in Brussels, do visit Cirio, an institution, and monument from the turn of the last century.

Address: Rue de la Bourse 18-20
Phone: 02/512-1395

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