Thursday 28 August 2008

Scheltema, Rue des Dominicains, Brussels

On a narrow pedestrianised street, near the Grand Place, packed with restaurants all offering pretty much the same thing, Scheltema's old-world ambiance makes it stand out from the competition. Among the tasteful green lamp shades, venerable wooden panelling, waiters in white shirts and black waist coats, high ceilings and wooden floors, the only incongruous note is struck by the blue plastic salt cellars, which appear to have come straight from the local supermarket. There are open kitchens at the front and back where you can see the chefs working away, breaking open the shells of crustaceans with knives.

Belgian Summer
You can nibble on a baguette and salty olives, while browsing the extensive and pricey menu mainly comprised of traditional French and Belgian dishes. The main courses tend to be 20 euros plus and you may be tempted by the Belgian Summer set meal, costing 30 euros including taxes and service and a Stella beer. It starts with some hot and comforting, but slightly bland, shrimp croquettes accompanied by some tasty fried parsley. Next up is a big steaming pot of large juicy mussels served with celery and cabbage, supported by a side order of crispy chips and mayonnaise with a bit of a kick. Service is professional and even on a Tuesday evening, Scheltema is justifiably busy. 7/10