Le 203 (Deux-cent-trois), my little souvenir to the Parisian gastronomic scene. Not sure how Le 203 would feel about this comparison, but for me that’s a very positive thing. My favourite restaurants in Paris were those laid back, non-pretentious places with a stylish, simple, but cosy interior, efficient and nice waiters and delicious food with a twist for a reasonable price. Reasonable price? Paris? Yes. I think there’s so many amazing restaurants in that city, which just need to be discovered around the 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 17th, 19th and so on arrondissements where you can get a nice dinner menu with wine for around 40-50€ per person. You might say that’s still pricey, but you get good quality food, an evening to remember and some good wine (not sure if the two last aspects are mutually exclusive). Anyways, my point is that I think I’ve found a new favourite spot in Brussels: Le 203.
The two who run the restaurant, Mathilde and Richard, have gastronomic experience from all over Brussels and the world like South Africa, Melbourne and Asia.
Dimmed light, brick walls, wooden tables, a long bar and open kitchen, dried flowers and above all, a collection of some of my favourite cookbooks in the end of the small dining room that seats around 14 people I’d say in addition to around 8 at the bar and another 6-8 at the entrance. A small and cosy place, one chef, and no more than two wait-ers/resses, which means it’s booked out fairly in advance. Lunch spots are available easier, but if you want to book a seat for dinner, be quick!
I went with my colleague Tijana, who has a smart trick of booking tables here, but that remains a secret. She booked a table, asked if I was free and since I’ve been meaning to go for years (literally) I said yes. Three weeks later we were sitting at one of the wooden tables, ordering a glass of “Le loup est”, a nice and light Languedoc from Grenache and Syrah grapes. Tijana went for the vegetarian menu, I chose meat and fish. My first course was a broth with dumpling that were filled with shredded oxtail meat, a beautiful combination that was so aromatic and intense that it truly surprised me with its simplicity but greatness in flavor.
Tijana went for the gorgonzola cream with pears and radicchio. I hesitated about the main course, fish. Fish dishes can go terribly wrong and so I’m always careful about ordering them. Here, no other choice would’ve been better. A piece of sea bass, the skin beautifully crispy and the meat so tender I could’ve eaten it with a spoon, bedded on a green tomato curry, some huge and delicious chickpeas and a cream and very fine crumble on top that just blew my mind. I ate extra slowly to enjoy it as much as possible and poor Tijana was already lingering after dessert when I was finishing my last bites. Her Manchego Gnocchi with Basilic-Pistachio pesto tasted as amazing as the description sounded.
Another glass of wine and a good amount of food talk we ordered the same dessert: Ile flottante, a traditional French dessert made from egg white, loads of sugar and a nice cream on which the whipped egg white is ‘floating’. The cream was infused with coffee, the egg white perfectly sweetened and all topped with some caramelized but still kind of salty peanuts, a match made in heaven.
I already booked another meal at Le 203, this time for lunch and this time I’ll try to sit at bar. I love watching people prepare food.
Good to know:
- Address: Chaussée de Waterloo Chaussée de Waterloo, 1060 Bruxelles
- Le 203
- Price: 8-9€ for starters, 16-19€ for mains and around 8€ for dessert, 5.5-6.5€ for a glass of wine