As soon as we knew we would be in Brussels for a slightly extended amount of time, Bryan asked if we could go back to “that pithivier place”. He still had fond memories of our last meal there, back in early 2020, when we experienced Chef Karen’s stunning works of art for the first time.
It’s been two years, and a lot last happened. As you may recall, Brussels went into lockdown in early March, the DAY we left Brussels to take one of the last direct flights back to Hong Kong. Who would have guessed that 2 years later, that direct flight is still not flying . . .
It hasn’t been easy. We talked to area restauranteurs. The family that owns Pasta Divina told us they were closed for 8 months, and many other businesses did not survive the pandemic at all.
Nevertheless, Brussels is coming back to life. As the days become longer and the sun sets later and later, people are reveling in the freedom of a society that is opening back up. We hardly saw masks anywhere (except perhaps inside trains, cars, and airplanes). There’s also no more need to show the digital “Green Pass” to enter restaurants.
This trip (Spring 2022) we mostly revisited our favorites from past trips. We were thrilled to see that our favorite pasta place, Pasta Divina, was still going strong, fully booked every single evening. In the fall of 2021, it was still relatively easy to get a last minute booking or walk into a popular restaurant. No more. Brussels is back, including the tourists, and restaurants are packed.
This was our first time in Brussels during the spring, so we were surprised to learn that mussels are not in season between March and July. Alas, no fresh moules frites this trip. We made sure to taste our favorite beers, such as the wild fermented lambics from Cantillon, “best beer in the world” brown beer from Westleveteren, Triple Karmeliet, Orval, Rochefort, and many many more.
Similarly, public areas such as The Grand Place and St. Catherine were teeming with life, filled with crowds that acted like it was 2019, i.e. “the Before Times.”
Despite all the tourists, thankfully I was able to secure a reservation at Restaurant Bozar again. It had been two years since we were last there, and we were looking forward to trying Chef Karan's signature pithivier again.
We had already pre-ordered the pithivier a few days before (must order 48 hours in advance!), and thus we were all set for our main course. We just had to choose a few appetizers. If you don't pre-order, you can still enjoy his "croutes" (meat filled pastry creations) by ordering the croute tasting (195 EUROS per person, minimum 2ppl), which includes trying four different ones, including a dessert croute!
I must say the attention to detail and the pure artistry of the food at Bozar never cease to amaze me.
It's not merely artistry, of course. Each course is elegantly composed, with balanced flavor combinations that are just a delight to eat.
The fresh, handmade ravioli was beautifully al dente, and the consomme together with the lobster (from Brittany) and sweet peas was just perfect.
Mes Croutes: Duck Pithivier
There are several different types of croutes, filled with different types of meat such as Basque pork, pigeon, or duck. We (again) ordered the duck pithivier, which includes Dombes duck, goose foie gras, spinach, morel mushrooms, and root vegetables.
I really want to try the salmon one (which also has spinach, buckwheat, mushrooms, and a white butter sauce with caviar), but the menu says it is for 6-8 persons.
It takes so much precision to get all the layers to cook just right.
We finished with some light petit fours, including some freshly baked warm madeleines.
Our first time here was in 2020, right when the pandemic began. It was a scary time, when masks were scarce, little was known about the disease, and it was unclear how long we'd be stuck in Brussels.
So much has changed in two years.
Back then we ate the 221st pithivier. Two years later, our new keychain told us we had just eaten the 319th pithivier. Wow, Chef has made close to 100 more pithiviers since then, which is impressive considering the pandemic was roaring during a lot of this time . . .
We were thrilled to be back this time, and hopefully won't wait another 2 years before we return.
Bozar Restaurant Brussels
Rue Baron Horta 3
Tel : 02 / 503.00.00
Mail : [email protected]