“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” It was Luciano Pavarotti who once said these words, and he is a wise man. For most of you it might not come as a big surprise, but I love food. I love it so much, I’ve dedicated more than one blog post to it. That’s why the second part of my Antwerp Treasure map is all about: food.
FROM BRUNCH TO DINNER AND BACK AGAIN – Lately I enjoy waking up early on a Saturday morning (i still have to get used to saying that, as my former hobby was sleeping in) and assembling friends and family to go for breakfast in one of the many coffee bars Antwerp has to offer. I remember when I moved to Antwerp about 10 years ago, there weren’t many nice and cosy (and free WiFi-ed) coffee bars as there are now. Or maybe I didn’t know they existed, since I was mostly busy with my other hobby back then (sleeping in, followed by my anti-hobby: running to class). Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, but it seems to me that going for breakfast (or brunch) is becoming a bigger thing than going out all night.
On a Saturday morning it’s always nice to visit the open air market. Since shopping for food on an empty stomach might hurt your wallet (as my mom says), get some breakfast first at Perruche (1). This small restaurant offers a very good breakfast and an even better service. Sweet Laura, that girl knows the drill of running a place! Adding up to the feeling of being at home: her mom occasionally pops in (actually she popped in once and never left) to provide happy customers with toast, special sandwiches, provincial spreads, spaghetti, soup and cake. Fun fact: Perruche, which is the French word for parakeet, used to be a small store which sold – you guessed it – parakeets (and other tiny, noisy birds). If you are a bagel lover I recommend Barnini (2),which is also in the same area (maybe you can try both, who cares about the market, right?!). No parakeets here, only owls. By the way, they have great coffee (in every size and color, with m&m’s on top or a good splash of chocolate sauce). I know because owner Annick used to train me in how to make the perfect coffee.
(1) Perruche – Oude Vaartplaats 60 – 2000 Antwerp (pope-approved)(2) Barnini – Oude Vaartplaats 10 – 2000 Antwerp
Time for lunch! Probably the most well-known place in Antwerp to go for lunch is Lombardia (3). Everybody knows this place, including Sting, Moby and Steve-O! Yes, big artists have fallen in love with Alain Indria’s gluten-free veggie health food love-temple. The interior looks like a huge container filled with pictures, colors, a giant golden bull, more color, graffiti and plants. You always feel sunny California in here and you would almost expect some half naked surfer dude walking in, straight from the beach, board still under his arm (if he ever does, ladies: I saw him first!). I love this place. Alain’s mom, Odette, opened Lombardia in 1972. Back then it was only a health-food shop. The most famous product Alain is serving is without doubt the Ginger Love tea (supposedly Alain came up with Ginger Love at table nr 18 in the back – so for any creative inspiration i suggest you take your lunch at table 18). It’s so good even Starbucks wanted to buy the recipe and the Wall Street Journal tipped Alain’s Ginger Love tea as a must when visiting Antwerp. Other good stuff I think you should try: Beasty Boy sandwich, Hot Mexican Tuna, the Magic Mushroom and Moby’s own Moby Juice.
(3) Lombardia – Lombardenvest 78 – 2000 Antwerp
Check out what Sting has to say about Lombardia:
For the real treasure hunters there is RA Kitchen (4). Located right in between antique shops, you will find this very cool restaurant (which in fact is part of a whole concept fashion store). The dining area alone is worth a visit: a mix between vintage tables, an informal living room lounge area, a mezzanine daybed and (on sunny days) a summer terrace. Ra Kitchen is all about fresh ingredients, a seasonal and eclectic menu, traditional flavours, unconventional methods and a touch of the past. As the Word magazine describes it, it’s a “quiet culinary universe of coolness”. Fun fact: every month, Ra Kitchen invites a special friend or talented individual for an event open to all! Take a look at their Facebook page to stay updated on upcoming events.
(4) RA Kitchen – Kloosterstraat 13 – 2000 Antwerp
Other great places to get your food-groove on:
- ULTIMATUM, Grote Markt 8: food, drinks and an occasional GREAT party
- CHEZ FRED, Kloosterstraat 83: the best “stoofvlees met frietjes” in town
- POTTEKIJKER, Kaasrui 5: for the romantic and nostalgic hearted people
- FISKEBAR, Marnixplaats 12: it’s all Fish and all Scandinavian
Special thanks to
Alain Indria (just for being you), Steven Neuman (for countless breakfasts), Romain Brau (for inspiration) and Laura (for two eggs instead of one).
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(c) Sien Josephine 2013