One 4am wake-up call followed by a taxi, a flight, a train and two subway changes later, we arrived at the Pantone Hotel in the St-Gilles neighbourhood of Brussels. This is a cool little concept hotel, designed by Pantone, the colour people. It's very minimalistic and quite basic but, it was clean, cheap and served as a good base for our few days away so I would definitely recommend it if you are just looking for somewhere to lay your head.
After dumping our luggage and freshening up, we headed out into a bright and bitterly cold Belgian winter's day in search of lunch. Les Larmes du Tigre was a restaurant I came across via Google maps. I knew our hotel was a little bit away from the centre of town and wanted to find some good local places to eat so that we wouldn't get sucked into a subpar tourist trap.
We started by sharing a plate of chicken satay that came recommended by the waiter and an amazing dish of chicken that had been caramelised in honey and wrapped in baitoey leaves. Everything was incredibly fresh and fragrant and probably some of the best Thai food I've had.
For mains; crispy pork belly in pineapple and cashew nuts followed by a sharing plate of Tigre's signature curries; chicken, pork, beef and seafood, all in authentic, subtly different sauces.
Feeling the full effects of our early start and a large midday meal, we were keen to stretch our legs and explore. We hopped on the subway and made our way out to Koekelberg with the intention of checking out the Brussels aquarium. Having been to some amazing aquariums in Europe, we were somewhat dismayed to find the Brussels one was little more than some fish tanks in a big shed. No real harm done as it was free entry with our Brussels travel card (highly recommend, will save you a fortune) and we got a good laugh out of it. Oh, and the silver lining?
Kev is somewhat of a pastry enthusiast and while it was the amazing Christmas window dressings at Sirre that caught my eye, he was completely sucked in by the rows and rows of confectionary, baked goods, handmade chocolate and piping hot loaves of fresh bread.
Though the day was cold, it was so crisp and the area was so beautiful that we decided to head over to Parc Elisabeth for a picnic. I had a small taste of what Kev picked and, genuinely, they were melt-in-the-mouth mindblowing.
Whistles Coat // Zara shirt (similar) // Selected Femme scarf (similar) // Asos leggings // 3.1 Philip Lim bag
One power nap later and it was time for dinner. Cool Bun was a restaurant that came highly recommended by a number of expat bloggers and, given that one of the two in Brussels was on the same street as our hotel, we felt it would be rude not to try it!
As the name and interiors suggest, this burger joint is very trendy - think along the lines of a Bunsen-Jo'Burger hybrid. It had a really buzzy atmosphere with a consistent turnover of groups of young professionals and students. Highly recommend if you are out in the Saint-Gilles area.
It isn't cheap at around €20 for a burger but, the ingredients are of a similar quality to Bunsen (the patty is minced onglet) while the variety of toppings is more akin to Jo'Burger, hence my earlier comment. For me? A burger with caramelised onions, emmental and Iberico ham, hold the bun, while Kev went with one of the specials, a Jack Daniels number with all the trimmings. Oh, and he also tried a freshly baked cookie sandwich for dessert! Suitably stuffed and incredibly exhausted, we sleepwalked back to the hotel, ready to take on a different side of Brussels tomorrow...