We might have left the European Union, but the beat goes on in the form of Belgica, where Brussels comes to Liverpool in a bar that’s “run by Belgian Scousers and Scouse Belgians” and serves up a taste of the low countries via big brews and a few food favourites.
Of course, a Belgian bar wouldn’t be a Belgian bar without moules frites, pretty much the national dish. There’s a choice of a 500g bowl or a full-on kilo of the seafood, to be deftly extracted by hand using the hinged black shell as stand-in cutlery. Served with twice-fried Belgian frites, there’s also sourdough bread to mop up one of four soupy sauces: classic marinière with shallots, parsley, white wine and cream, Ardenaise, traditionally with ham or bacon and mushrooms, Thai (we’re guessing hot and sour), and anise, which could have something to do with tarragon or pastis or both. Either way, the problem here is that mussels are “subject to availability, please ask bar staff”, so on non-moules days, you’ll have to take your food experience from Belgium’s neighbouring countries. There’s steak frites, famous of France, for example, and French onion soup, plus an endive salad with Roquefort cheese (French, actually Appellation Contrôllée), walnuts, honey and pear. On the small plates front, there’s bitterballen served with dips, more often than not credited to the Netherlands, as is the cheese in the ham and Gouda croquettes with honey mustard. Still, there is Bourgogne des Flandres in the homemade beef ragu served with pasta as well as Trappist beer in the Welsh rarebit – or beer cheese as it’s called here. There are burgers in brioche buns, but sausages are sadly lacking – unless you include a currywürst, which is technically German. However, all is not lost: there is Ardennes pâté as well as an authentic Flemish carbonnades Flamande: a six-hour slow-cooked beef stew with Westmalle Dubbel and wholegrain mustard, served with fries.
Sweet treats? Waffles or chocolate-based delights, obviously. And all the fruit beers you can think of, not to mention pale lagers, amber ales, lambic beers, Flemish red ales, sour brown ales, strong ales and stouts…
Want to be the first to receive all the latest news, tips, articles, guides and updates from Confidential Guides? Sign up here.