If you regularly “land” on this blog, you know there is plenty to see in Antwerp. But mankind can’t live on beauty alone. Belgium is very much a food Walhalla and has more to offer than that national institution called Fritkot. So of course, Antwerp has plenty places to suit all tastes and budgets.
If you really can’t live without a KTF, MacD, or other food chain: you will find these in Antwerp. But if you’re a fast food addict: why not try the Quick. The Quick? Yes: it’s a Belgian version of the MacD. You will find one of its many restaurants on the tourist trap stretch leading from Antwerp Central (train) station to the Meir, at the Keyserlei. You can find more Quicks spread through Antwerp and why not try an Andalouse Max?
Along Antwerp’s main shop-till-you-drop Meir, there are plenty restaurants, but have a look inside its Stadsfeestzaal. This former town’s festival hall dating from around 1910, now contains various shops. It also houses a restaurant of the Dutch LaPace chain on the first floor. Usually, you can find discount vouchers somewhere on the ground floor of the hall. The Stadsfeestzaal also houses a large supermarket of the Dutch-Belgian Delhaize chain. It sells plenty fresh food and you can stock up on sauce Andalouse to take home.
But recently, I did not take the main exit of Antwerp’s main train station. Instead, I walked to the back of the station, to its exit on the Lange Kievitstraat. Right next to the station’s exit, at Lange Kievitstraat 107, you’ll find a shop of the “Pain Quotidien” chain. Its French name means daily bread and you can find these bakery-cum-café shops throughout Belgium, as well as in major cities such as Paris, Amsterdam, New York, and London.
I seated myself at the long communal table. In one corner of the café there was a business meeting going on. At the counter, people were ordering their take-away lunches. I ordered a small brioche with my coffee. The fresh brioche arrived with a helping of real butter and piping hot coffee. Le Pain is not cheap, but what it offers is of good quality.
While eating my brioche and sipping coffee, I read a paper. My paper was later swept with someone else at the table. Communal tables can be a nice way to meet locals.
On the table in these shops, you’ll usually also find copies of the English version of le Pain’s recipe book. After reading the instructions on how to create sour dough, I decided to stick to my version of Foccacia. However, have a look inside this book (or scroll down); it does contain a lot of inspirational recipes.
Once ready to face busy Antwerp, I walked into the Lange Kievitstraat itself. It runs straight through Antwerp’s diamonds district. In fact, on your way from the trains to the Pain café and bakery, you’ll pass plenty diamond shops. I was not interested in the bling-bling. I was interested in Jewish delis. For the street lies in the Jewish quarter. Don’t be fooled: this neighbourhood not only has Kosher restaurants; it caters to all nationalities and of course there are a couple of nice delis along this street.
Around noon, I found myself at Antwerp’s Groenplaats. In a small side-street, the Sint Pieterstraat, you will find the “IJsboerke”. This Belgian chain sells ice cream. Of course, its most Belgian flavour is “Speculoos”, though rhum-raisin is another personal favourite. Depending on the weather, temperature, and available seats, it’s a delicious stop-over.
If it’s french fries you want, you will find “Max” at Groenplaats 12. It is one of two friteries or fritkots, recommended by the Antwerp Tourist Office. The other one is called “Number One” and is close-by at the corner of the Hoogstraat – nr 1. Both serve excellent fries and snacks, but are a bit pricy.
From “IJsboerke”, I usually saunter towards “Lojola” or “Simply Emily”. Head towards the Carolus Borromeus church at the Hendrik Conscience square and you should be able to find both. The church is well worth a visit too and nearby you will find a house where Albrecht Dürer stayed on a trip from Germany to the court of Henry VIII.
“Simply Emily” specialises in homemade soups and quiches. You can order a take-away or seat yourself at a table. For me it’s an alternative, if “Lojola” is too busy. As stated in an earlier post, “Lojola” changed hands a while ago, but the quality and service remains the same. It remains one of my Antwerp favourites.
Don’t be fooled by what looks like a lack of space: there’s space upstairs. But first have a look at what’s on offer. You may like a slice of pecan cake, or the wicked chocolate one, or the trifle and don’t forget the present owner keeps adding and changing the menu. And it’s not just cakes and sweet treats he has on offer!
No place here or at “Simply Emily”? There are plenty good restaurants and café’s in this nice corner of Antwerp, as well as many, many more in other Antwerp neighbourhoods, all asking to be discovered!