Thon Hotel EU, Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat 75, +32 (0)2 204 39 02, €28 for a three-course lunch
For two years, a block on the Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat, the main thoroughfare into Brussels city centre, was under wraps with the promise that it would emerge from its cocoon this spring. Its long chrysalis over, Thon Hotel EU is now open for business and targeting Euro-crowd visitors from out of town. Its restaurant, XII, aims to draw in the many officials, lobbyists, lawyers and journalists who busy themselves in the nearby streets of EU power.
XII is a rarity for restaurants in the district: it has space aplenty in its two indoor areas and inner courtyard. This will come as a relief to late lunchers whose last minute efforts to find a table are met with sympathetic shakes of the head by waiters at other, smaller establishments.
It is also suitably modern. An open brasserie layout, smart decor and lighting and bright flashes of colour in the furniture (plastic seats outside, comfy design chairs inside) provide a forceful contrast with the slightly dreary office and conference-room environment it is surrounded by.
The three-course lunch changes regularly. On the day of our visit, the menu offered salad with scallops and avocado for starters, followed by grilled rib-eye from Belgian blue-white beef served with baked potatoes and cucumber. Dessert was blood-orange cake with a chocolate sauce.
The dishes are delicately arranged yet unpretentious, with a satisfying balance of Belgian tradition and international cuisine. Belgian bottles feature on the wine list, which is almost unheard of in Brussels restaurants. The menu itself travels further across the globe for inspiration; with tagliatelle and spinach, grilled beef fillet in Roquefort, Norwegian salmon roulade and Caesar salad available.
As a lunch venue it hits the right notes, offering a welcome retreat for officials and those seeking an escape from the hectic Euro-district.
Fish demystified and a few French fancies
The Everyday Fish Cookbook
Trish Davies, Spring Hill If you side-step around cooking with fish like a crab trying to avoid the pot then this little book is for you. Author Trish Davies was brought up by the sea and her straightforward recipes demystify the buying, preparing and cooking of fish. With really easy recipes for weekday suppers such as chowder and fishcakes, there will be no excuses for not getting your three portions a week.