Stitch and Bear

A long-running Irish blog with reviews of the best restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Some wine and cocktails thrown in for good measure!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Houtsiplou, Brussels

Due to my current client assignment, I am making occasional visits to my client's offices in Brussels. In a way, it's like a trip home as I was previously fortunate enough to live in Brussels for 7 months in 2008. After checking in at the Sheraton, I decided that I wanted a burger, so a quick internet search led me to Houtsiplou. The quirky graphics on their fun website won me over and so I headed to the metro.

Houtsiplou is located on Place Rouppe (or Rouppeplein, depending on your linguistic inclinations), which is only a short walking hop from the Grand Place, or even less from the Annessens metro stop. For the gourmands amongst my readers, you may be aware that Place Rouppe is home to a 2-star Michelin restaurant, Comme Chez Soi, but also houses other relaxed bars and cafe. Houtsiplou is located in an old townhouse, with ample outdoor seating for when the weather is fine.

I took a seat inside and my eyes were immediately drawn to the large mural which takes up all of one wall and details the mixed history of Belgium. Houtsiplou is the name of an imaginary, faraway place in Belgium, and this restaurant definitely captures that whimiscal nature. I was initially confused by the presence of Smurfs in the mural, but a Wikipedia search revealed that the Smurfs comic strip originated in Belgium!

Fun & colurful mural at Houtsiplou
The menu is a colourful laminated card, covered in cute characters and drawings, while offering many food and drink choices. I chose the Routpolis burger, which came with gorgonzola, rockets and roasted tomatoes. When the burger arrived, it looked very impressive on the plate, with accompanying chips served in a cute little saucepot. Although substantial, the burger proved to be a bit lacklustre in taste due to the undersalted patty and bizarre gorgonzola-less sauce. Still though, it hit the spot and was great value.

Routpolis burger with fries
I ate once more at Houtisplou during my trip to Brussels, and although the food was again only OK, there is something captivating and fun about this bistro. It's cosy as well as being family and wallet friendly. Given the large amount of over-priced tourist traps near the Grand Place in Brussels, you could do a lot worse that going a few minutes past the usual tourist routes and heading down Rue Midi to Houtsiplou.

Houtsiplou, 9 Place Rouppe (Rouppeplein), Brussels 1000.

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