It’s back! Yes, it is that time of year again when restaurant menus suddenly include game alongside the year-round favourites.
The wild game’s comeback every autumn and winter is a hit among hunters, butchers and consumers in Belgium.
For many, it is a keenly-awaited seasonal chance to sample some sumptuous regional cuisine, sourced direct from the glorious Belgian Ardennes.
The open season for hunting is a treat for those who enjoy the strong flavours of wild game.
Wild dishes pop up at restaurants at this time of the year too, of course, and one of the best places in Brussels to treat yourself to some great game is Le Repos des Chasseurs.
Its authenticity is already well known here, something that is reflected by the fact that it is the only restaurant in Brussels to be listed by Logis de France, the famous quality label for restaurants and hotels.
One of the reasons for its inclusion for the past 20 years is its wonderful rural-like setting. Despite being located just a stone’s throw from one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares (avenue d’Auderghem) you could be forgiven for thinking you are, well, in the deepest Ardennes.
Surrounded by ancient trees and the nearby forest, it makes for a great place to eat at any time of the year, including during the game season.
Among the most popular dishes hare and deer (available from October) while wild boar and guinea fowl are also customer favourites. Pheasant, while less popular than in the past, is also a game mainstay on the menu, of course.
All the game served here is sourced from the Ardennes while the delicious truffle – served with some of the dishes – comes from Piedmont in Italy, the homeland of the owners.
If you’ve room, you really must try to commence things with a seasonal starter: wild mushrooms on toast – terrific!
The restaurant, along with other businesses in the area, has had to cope with the closure nearby of insurance company Axa’s office which employed over 5,000. It is a sign of its enduring popularity that the restaurant has not only survived such a blow but gone from strength to strength.
Apart from the game now on the menu, there are a couple of excellent value-for-money set menus: one which offers a choice from six starters and six mains, plus desert and another four-course menu.
An extensive a la carte has a lovely range of dishes, ranging from sweetbread in a creamy mushroom sauce (an old Belgo-French classic) and veal kidneys to seafood and some fantastic pasta offerings.
In the unlikely event of none of this tickling your fancy, there’s also a daily suggestions board to tempt you.
This is mouth-watering food and is best accompanied by something from the equally fine wine card which contains some great reds and whites sourced from the winery in the south of Italy which is owned and run by the same family.
The 70-hectare winery, located not far from Naples in what is said to be one of the beautiful settings in Italy, produces between 500 and 600 bottles per year. It has acquired a reputation for the quality of its produce and the wines are also available via a Belgian outlet
Aside from the nice cuisine and old charm decor, there are more than ample spaces here for conferences, banquets and private functions.
Weekends are particularly popular with families for birthday parties and suchlike while business-oriented events are more typical on weekdays.
Worth knowing that one room has space for up to 20 people, another two have capacity for 40-60 while a fourth room, the biggest, can accommodate between 80-100 people. There are also facilities for people with disabilities, plus a delightful terrace.
There is also a pleasant 11-room hotel attached to the restaurant and access is no problem with ample parking spaces nearby and the whole complex situated pretty close to the Brussels Ring and motorway network.
Angelo Pepe, the proprietor, first arrived in Belgium way back in 1974. He actually owns four restaurants, one at Zaventem, another in Ixelles, Le Repos des Chasseurs and one very close by.
More than ably supported by his family, the very welcoming and friendly Angelo has worked hard to build up a much-deserved excellent reputation on the Brussels culinary scene.
He says his motto is “work is the hobby that costs the least” and, in a way, it aptly sums up his family’s admirable work ethic.
This restaurant also has particularly poignant memories for this writer: it was the venue chosen by one’s late father-in-law for his last family meal before, very soon afterwards, being consumed by cancer having just turned 70.
GOOD TO KNOW:
- Name: Le Repos des Chasseurs
- Address: Av Charle Albert 11, Watermael Boitsfort
- Contact: 02 660 4672 or firstname.lastname@example.org