Bonsoir Clara Brussels, Belgium
The receptionist at the Hilton in Brussels recommended Bonsoir Clara as a good place to dine on our first night in Belgium. She drew us directions and stated, “It is close to St. Catherine’s, you cannot miss it.” She called the restaurant for us and made a reservation (in French) for 7:00PM.
A lot of dinner restaurants in Belgium open at 7:00PM. Around Grand Place (a public square surrounded by amazing historical buildings) or famous sightseeing spots, restaurants and cafes are open all the time. However, small, local restaurants are not open all day. Even for lunch, they rarely open before noon. Those shops, cafes, and restaurants gradually open, but always close at 6:00PM sharp.
My hubby and I are quick to get lost, so we decided to find our reserved restaurant at 5:00PM before exploring the area. We walked around a large church and crossed many streets on our way there; but of course, we got, as my hubby calls it, ‘temporarily misguided’. We were so hungry from our hike to find our restaurant that we bought sugar donuts and croissants at a local bakery to fuel up.
We finally found a spot to sit down and snack around the church we circled so many times. Many people were there enjoying cigarettes, tea, and huge soap bubbles provided by some random entertainer. There are many fish markets in that area, so some people had mussels and other seafood. After we recharged with the pastries, we continued looking for our evening culinary destination.
Finally, at 6:40PM we found the restaurant; but it was empty, pitch dark inside. So we read over the menu fixed to the window over and over to mask our panic that the place was closed for the evening.
When we visited the restaurant again (just after 7:00PM), there were several waiters, chefs, and other customers inside to greet us. I almost looked for the magic lamp they all appeared from so suddenly. My hubby and I ordered shrimp croquettes and steak. Croquettes are very popular in Belgium and the Netherlands, as we saw shrimp croquettes in nearly every restaurant we visited.
The restaurant was contemporary—with stained glass windows and romantic candles—and the appetizer consisted of a bean soup and delicious bread. The steak was so juicy and soft that my hubby (whose appetite was actually debilitated during the trip) wanted to have a second one. To top it off, the French fries were served in an adorable container. I have never seen such big shrimp croquettes before. The texture was perfect, with no sogginess. And the crème brûlée was not too sweet like in American. I loved it.
The waiter gave us a small French lecture, and my hubby was excited to finally put his high school French to use and order in the local tongue (we later learned that we should have ordered a large bottle of water instead of four smaller ones). I was hesitant to speak to the waiter in French, but after dinner I could loudly say, “Merci Beaucoup!”
Rue A. Dansaert 22-26