Based in our Brussels workshop, Jean Apostolou is one of the five expert chef chocolatiers who are responsible for Godiva’s delectable chocolate recipes. Kicking off our Best-Kept Secrets travel series, Chef Jean shares his top tips for Belgium's capital city.
CHOCOLATE NOTES: What are your favourite shops in the city?
JEAN APOSTOLOU: For fish, La Mer Du Nord on rue St Catherine is definitively one of the best, and for coffee it's Corica, a small yet exceptional coffee roaster – it also has a coffee bar. Try their Ethiopian Blue Mountain. The best bread in town is available at Charli's Bakery, also located on rue St Catherine. Because of my Greek roots, I buy good wine, cheese and other delicacies at Sani on Boulevard de Dixmude and Canette on rue de Witte de Haelen.
CN: And what about restaurants and bars?
JA: At Strofilia you’ll find fantastic food and great wines. It’s a nice, relaxing place where I feel at home. Tartufo is another place I love at St Pieters Leeuw. For bars, my preferred place is L'Archiduc on rue Antoine Dansaert for the music and the cocktails, or La Mort Subite for the beer on rue Montagne-aux-Herbes.
At Strofilia you’ll find fantastic food and great wines. It’s a nice, relaxing place where I feel at home
CN: Where’s the best place to discover culture?
JA: One of the best places is the Musée des Beaux Arts. The MIM music instrument museum has to be visited for its collections, but also its art deco architecture – the Horta Museum is also a must. For the comics connoisseurs like myself, there is the Musée de la Bande Dessinée.
CN: What is Brussels’ signature dish?
JA: ‘Carbonnades à la flamande’ – it’s beef stew with beer.
CN: What’s the street food scene like?
JA: Typical Belgian street food is a cliché: Belgian fries with a choice of sauce toppings, or ‘caricollekes' (aka sea snails). But you will also find street food from all over the world.
CN: Where’s the best place for a nightcap?
JA: I love La Tentation on rue de Flandre.
CN: What’s your personal best-kept secret in the city?
JA: Brussels used to be a city crossed by a river, la Sense. For public health reasons, this river has been covered, allowing authorities to create large new avenues. There is one small but very beautiful place where the river is still visible, next to the Halles St Géry on place St Géry.