Chez Vincent

Strolling down the Rue Des Bouchees in Brussels, Belgium for the second time I am certain that I am not going to be tempted by that well-groomed, eloquent, and charming waiter behind me. He will showcase gorgeous seafood displays, and try to lure invite me into his restaurant, but I will hold strong passing by him and the other waiters I encounter on my way to the infamous Chez Vincent.

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Without faltering I make it to the landmark eatery and do a double take, as the entrance leads you through their kitchen first in order to get to the dining room. Although we did not have reservations, the staff were very polite as they quickly found us a table and seated us promptly. I look around the room and observe that many of the diners were older business men who most typically are good eaters and always enjoy a beer or two, a tell tale sign that the restaurant was a great pick.

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Aux Armes de Bruxelles

When travelling I am more excited to visit landmark eateries than tourist landmarks. Sometimes I go online and research the restaurants I should eat at beforehand, so that I have a reference point in the city. This has worked for and against me in the past. When visiting Paris 8 months ago, I ate at the infamous Chartier and was very, very disappointed by the food (Choucroute that I could gag on) and the service (having to share a table with a couple).

Another great indication of whether a restaurant has promise is if you see a line of patrons flooding outside the doors. It’s a great sign that people are willing to wait in order to have a fantastic meal.

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On a recent trip to Belgium, I used one of my most favourite tactics…asking the locals. And when I say locals, I don’t mean the front desk at your hotel who sometimes make a commission if they refer you to a restaurant. In our case, it was during our ride from the airport to our hotel room in Brussels.  The drive was initially silent, but the tension was broken when my dad questioned our driver about the local weather. One thing lead to another, and soon we were on the topic of food.

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