Why? Why do I love the «London»? Why do I love this restaurant on Place Luxembourg in front of the European Parliament (EP) – why not one of the other seven restaurants on that square? Like always with love – there are rational and irrational reasons.
The irrational ones we should put besides in this context – they are emotional: owners and personal treat you extremely friendly and respectful; guests who only speak Italian or Chinese, groups of a dozen who arrive to eat without reservation or the lonely journalist sitting for three hours with only one cup of tea quietly in the corner (I have seen this all) – they are all treated with understanding, efficiently and with a smile.
But let’s concentrate on the rational reasons, why the London is a «must» in the EU quarter. After 32 years in Brussels – I arrived here in 1984 as the first Green Member of the EP – I have chosen the London as my preferred drinking, eating and networking place in the EU quarter. There are four reasons to explain this.
Reason n°1: three quality places in one. Inside the building they have 27 tables with 60 chairs (I counted them for this article) with a cuisine which is top in pasta, wok and salad (as I am vegetarian, my judgement on the meat is an indirect one: I see the staff of the neighbouring restaurants consuming regularly their steak in the London – certainly a sign for quality …).For the smokers they have a covered terrace as space number two with drinks and food, which is not only crowded during football competitions (two big TV screens). Space number three is an outside open air terrace with sun and sometimes (we are in Belgium!) rain.
Reason n°2: a real diverse place. Brussels EU is not only the mix of 28 EU member states, it is Argentinians, Azerbaijani, Canadians, Japanese, Koreans, Kuwaiti, Turkish and Uzbek as well – and I have met them all (and many other nationalities) in the London. Common people and stars: the Belgian Prime Minister and the astronaut who walked with Armstrong on the moon, Ambassadors and Congolese opposition leaders … The London is certainly not the most posh place on Place Luxembourg, The London is (to repeat: based on 32 years in the EU quarter) the place where cultures, hierarchies, key (and less key) public figures, young (and less young) people stop for a drink, discussion or a meal in order to rest quietly or to mingle with others.
Reason n°3: diversity. There are places in the EU quarter where you will meet especially British or Greens or youngsters or tourists or Italians or
business people or Commission officials or … but in the London you will find a balanced mix of all of them.
Reason n°4: history. The first railway lines were built in the UK. Belgium followed in the 1830s. The only remaining original train station from that period is the Luxembourg train station now used as EP information centre – built in 1854/5 during the Crimean War (involving Turkey, Russia, France and Britain). The London – located just eighty meters from that train station is the mix of all of them: Turkish owners, Russian born staff, French wine and British name.
Final remark: Besides all of this, there are additional reasons to pass by in the London: early breakfast place, happy hour, an Armenian waitress with Turkish restaurant owners, sometimes with Finnish Sibelius meat balls (to honour the 150th birthday of this Swedish-speaking Finnish composer), free newspapers, a never ending stock of Orval beer (the monastery where Nostramus stayed for a while).