Chew it over: brunch is the most gratifying holiday meal. It’s the unadulterated pleasure of pressing snooze; a glorious second opportunity for the weary, hungover traveller. It’s also a city’s chance to loosen its tie each weekend. From communal tables to secluded corners, brunch in Brussels is big news at the moment. Here’s where to get your fill.
Bustling during the week, the darkly dressed Café Luxembourg (cafeluxembourg.be) is a quiet haven at the weekend, where diners have time to pore over its healthy and wallet-friendly brunch menu. Items on offer follow the seasons and produce is always fresh from the market, so expect frothy fruit juices and yogurt and granola as well as cheese and charcuterie boards. Sweet-toothed rascals should opt for the banana-raspberry French toast or the seriously addictive carrot cake.
Café Luxembourg: bar by night, brunches by day © Analia Glogowski / Lonely Planet
For a touch of home, indulge in the all-you-can-eat buffet along one of the communal wooden tables at Les Filles (lesfillesplaisirsculinaires.be). Served in big Staub pots on grandma’s vintage china, the comforting cuisine at this brunch spot is all seasonal and all organic. So once you’re done with the Basque country chipolatas, take slabs of sugar bread and spoonfuls of homemade vanilla cream cheese before exiting through its ground floor grocery shop. Reservations recommended.
With rooftop pool parties and basement concerts, the Jam Hotel’s (jamhotel.be) reputation as one of the most happening spots in the capital is already starting to stick. The former art school hasn’t strayed too far from the easel, with architect Olivia Gustot transforming it into industrial canvas of concrete and Lionel Jadot artworks. Even the kitchen is getting creative and the weekend Italian buffet brunch (think bresaola, soft beef cannelloni and creamy buffalo mozzarella) would marvel Michelangelo.
The Jam Hotel welcomes non-guests to brunch © Analia Glogowski / Lonely Planet
Once a former garage, the warehouse chic of the Lulu concept store is a design-lovers dream. Nestled past the ceramic cacti, handmade Italian sunglasses and the minimal Scandinavian furniture is the excellent Cafe Lulu (lulustore.eu) which does a belt-popping brunch of potatoes, eggs, sausage, mushrooms, salad, bacon and soup. Located among a myriad of vintage treasures and children’s toys, it’s a good pit stop for homemade cakes and smooth coffee too.
Designed by the renowned Frédéric Nicolay, this European Quarter gem is a mixture of high ceilings, concrete walls and marble counters. But forget the retro light fitting and black and white film projections, because Grand Central’s (legrandcentral.com) all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch outdoes it all. Roasted aubergine, tomatoes with white beans and a legion of savoury dishes co-star alongside brownies and banana bread. Their barista is something of a coffee Picasso too.
It’s all you can eat at Grand Central; don’t feel it needs to be healthy © Analia Glogowski / Lonely Planet
La Fabrique en ville
A bit of a secret, Fabrique en ville (lafabriqueresto.be) is a superbly restored orangery hidden among the shade of Parc d’Egmont with huge fan light windows that allow the sun to glaze across the tables. It does a gargantuan weekend buffet which includes roasted pumpkin, ricotta and spinach ravioli, smoked salmon with dill and minty tabbouleh. It even has a station where chefs cook up your eggs however you want them – pancakes included. With Belgian suikertaart (sugar tart) and a killer chocolate fondant for dessert, it won’t stay a secret for long.
Henri & Agnes
Overflowing with wild flowers and decorated with vintage ceramics, bohemian Henri & Agnes (henrietagnes.com) feels like a roughly-repaired wooden cabin. Fittingly, the menu is handpicked and wholesome with seasonal homemade treats like veal-stuffed turnips with mint, ginger and coriander, and organic vegetarian dishes like celeriac soup. Even its daintiest feel-good food is presented with the occasional floret. On a sunny day, take your fork upstairs for a breezy terrace brunch.
Homely Henri & Agnes is known for its healthy brunches © Analia Glogowski / Lonely Planet
Essentially a walk-in well-being centre, CHYL (chyl.be) is a café, a bio shop and a beauty salon all squeezed into a single renovated townhouse. With a carefully curated interior of Aztec print cushions, recycled wooden furniture and climbing plants, this is the place to come for healthy treats such as blueberry açai bowls, chia coconut puddings, gluten free pistachio cake and a mean avocado on toast. Book ahead.
Abuzz with a rather local bobo crowd, Chicago Café (chicagocafe.be) is decked out like a design-conscious, applied arts college with pastel coloured cupboards, playful wooden benches by Kewlox and a scattering of hanging plants. The brunch menu is a delicious patchwork picnic that reflects the city’s inhabitants: Mexican quesadillas, American burgers, English muffins, French quiches and Belgian stews.
The Chicago Cafe is a feast for the eyes and the stomach © Analia Glogowski / Lonely Planet