In the end, I chickened out. I’d read the long list of Fritkot Place de la Chapelle. (In case you want to know more about this fritkot: “Pistolet, Paquet, Mitraillette”. Other good ones were mentioned in “Best Fritkot”.) They have a long list of different mitraillettes, all including bread, frites, crudités.
The list ranges from a mitraillette frites, costing only about 3.50 Euro, to expensive versions costing over five Euro. So there I was: tempted to order a mitraillette mergez costing 4.50 Euro. But at the last moment, I settled for a petit paquet – small portion – with sauce Bearnaise.
Why I didn’t go for the mitraillette? At Place de la Chapelle, you’re out in the open. There is no shelter. There was a stiff breeze blowing. All benches were taken. A dish including bread, frites, crudités, one or two sausages, and perhaps a dollop of sauce, is no meal I can comfortably stuff into my mouth under such conditions.
The fries were the usual excellent quality. So perhaps next time, I might give in to temptation – provided I can sit down. On the other hand, there is a long list of sauces still to be tried out with a petit paquet, like Andalouse.
Lunch settled, I loitered downtown to one of my favourite, quirky pubs. Poechenelle Kelder is on the other side of Manneken Pis. Due to the weather the terrace was closed, but inside it was warm and welcoming. Like many Belgian pubs, it offers a limited choice of pub food. It isn’t a restaurant.
This did not prevent tourists from entering, expecting a long list of lunch dishes to choose from. Complaining, they left without even bothering to taste any of the hundreds of beers on offer. In came an American couple wanting take-away-coffee. Staff told them all drinks are served in cups with saucers, or glasses. Poeche is no Starbucks.
I settled for a small Faro. Apart from the ordinary beer list, each table already sported a list of Christmas beers. If you decide to have a beer here, have a look at all lists, including the blackboard. This pub has weekly and monthly favourites offered at cheaper rates. Spoiled for choice? Staff will gladly advise you.
After reading one of the papers and finishing my Faro, I continued loitering. Around the Bourse building, Brussels was already preparing for the festive season. A Christmas market stall was already there. On one of the corners next to the building stood a small caravan. It’s owner sold marrons. Though I love these, I walked on: five chestnuts cost 1.50 Euro.
Across the road is another stand. It’s there permanently and offers food for the brave, the bold, the non-squeamish. It sells escargots. You’ll have to find out yourself what a helping costs. I simply don’t belong to the brave, the bold, the non-squeamish.
Poechenelle website: Poeche