Belgium is famous for three things: Beer, Waffles, and Fries. Alas, all three are types of food that should be enjoyed with moderation. Imagine the self-control I had to exercise when we were stuck in Brussels for close to two months at the beginning of the pandemic!
I've had lots of fries in Brussels, but hands down the BEST fries (and arguably the most famous fries) would be those at Frites Atelier Brussels.
Dutch Chef Sergio Herman, entrepreneur who owns several restaurants (including three 1-Michelin starred restaurants) decided to embark upon a quest to figure out how to make the best fries.
The 18-month journey took him to explore different types of potatoes, soil types, salts, cooking methods, etc., he settled on potatoes "from the clay in Zeeland" (a province in the Netherlands) and "Samphire salt".
The first location opened in The Hague in 2016, and several more have followed. In Brussels there is a location right near the Grand Place.
Fries are the focus, of course. You can get plain fries (with your choice of a variety of dipping sauces), or you can get the more creatives ones that have interesting toppings, such as Sea Nori, which includes dried seaweed chips, spicy andalouse mayonnaise, and Japanese furikake on top (pictured at top). There are other really creative toppings, such as Arabic Baba and Feta (bab ganoush, feta cheese, harissa, herbs), Flemish Beef Stew (stewed in Petrus beer with garden cress and mustard), Indo Peanut (peanut sauce with kaffir lime, fried onions, Rempejek), or a more classic Mediterranean with Parmesan, basil, and mayo.
The fries are crispy on the outside, almost like they are dusted or coated with something, and they are super, super soft and tender on the inside. I have no idea how they make these, but it's unusually good.
If you want to have a meal, the restaurant has a couple burgers/sandwiches on the menu. Bryan got a black Angus Cheddar Cheese Burger, and I tried a Fish Burger. They were both pretty good.
This is definitely a MUST-TRY place if you are in Brussels. I would recommend at least stopping by for an order of fries (maybe to share?). You could wash that down with a couple pints of beer, or stay for the whole meal and also order a burger.
I'm not surprise so many locations opened up so quickly. It's a great concept, they do a good job of keeping the quality high despite the (now) five locations throughout the Netherland and Belgium.
It's worth the calories, at least to try once!