Are you a Belgian gastronomy amateur? Then you might be interested to visit La Cocotte Belge, a brasserie located in Waterloo, to try their "Belgian menu". An ex-colleague suggested that we try this place to change from our usual spots and I agreed because the concept got my attention: Belgian specialties in a modern and cozy setting. I was intrigued by how this experience would turn out....
We planned to go on a Friday night to have as much time as possible to enjoy the place and catch up, which we did extensively. We booked quite late but managed to get a table for 7PM. Driving to Waterloo from Brussels wasn't too difficult, surprisingly, and there were a lot of parking spaces available nearby which was nice. You are basically parking alongside the road but it's safe so no issue there :)
La Cocotte Belge is located in a really nice grey house with a front terrace where you can have a drink and smoke. Upon entering you are greeted by a "design" waiting area and bar, and on your right you will see the first table of the restaurant. It does look very modern and cozy with a wooden floor, wooden branded tables, a menu that looks like a newspaper, wrought iron chairs and a bricked wall...The place does have some character!
We first ordered drinks before diving into the menu and suggestions of the day. The front page is dedicated to drinks but page 2 is where you'll find the "cocottes de mamy" and "Belgian specialties", not to mention starters, salads, pastas and options for kids. In total, I have found 10-12 really Belgian dishes and recipes that my grandparents used to make. You can peak at the menu by following this link.
We didn't really feel like taking a starter just because plates seemed to be well served and we really wanted to try special items on the menu. My ex-colleague took one of the suggestions > the bass filet and I decided to go for a typical grandma's recipe: the veal stew (a.k.a. la blanquette de veau). Veal stew is more of a typical French dish rather than a Belgian one but it can be quite hard to find a restaurant that does it really well, so I had to try it. I really like veal stew when the meat is well chosen, cooked slowly in a broth so it stays tender and juicy...and the sauce is made with care, the old way (with butter, flour and strong arms) so it coats perfectly your cutlery whenever you dig in.
We chatted for a while and snacked on bread, butter and salt before getting our food, it was pleasant. The staff was also lovely, giving us suggestions and making sure from time to time that everything was ok (without overdoing it). Finally our plates arrived, indeed well served and fuming!
The bass filet looked good and from what I heard it was but in my opinion the plate could have used some more veggies...In my case, the veal stew was super creamy and had some vegetables as well as some meatballs. I didn't expect that but I know that a lot of Belgians like to put meatballs in stew and vol-au-vent. The sauce perfectly coated my cutlery and tasted quite nice however I would have used a fattier piece of meat or cooked it even slower to make it tender. Over all the experience was good and turned out to be informative about my personal tastes :)
To finish our evening on a sweet note, we ordered a wonderful sorbet duo: lime and raspberries. I must admit that this simple dessert mind-blew me and my friend! Usually when you order an ice-cream or a sorbet, the presentation lacks attention, the restaurant serves it in a glass cup or a white bowl and basta. In this case, the presentation was more elaborate and showed some thinking: they presented our 2 sorbets in a black bowl to contrast colors probably and added touches of fruits and biscuits.
Now not only did our dessert look good, it tasted awesome! I asked one of the waiter if the sorbets were homemade but he wasn't sure and I am guessing they bought it but the choice of the supplier was spot on! The sorbets were light, not too sweet, had a natural flavor and color, and they actually contained fruits and seeds which is not something I often see. We received 2 long spoons and finished this dessert in no time, it's was so good!
We ended up chatting some more over drinks (mainly water, you need to stay hydrated!) and around midnight headed to the bar to end the evening and pay. The bill was correct for 2 people:
To conclude, I had a really nice time at La Cocotte Belge. The food was good, the general atmosphere was pleasant, and I would give extra points for the lovely staff and dessert! It's definitely a place I would visit again, for sure during the winter season because Belgian specialties and grandma's recipes tend to be a bit heavy/fatty.
Want to find out more? Visit La Cocotte Belge's website here, or check what other people think of this place below ⇩⇩