Thursday, October 6, 2016

La Rose Blanche

After a bit of a frustrating afternoon traveling around Brussels and not being able to see most of the places we wanted to, we spent the rest of our afternoon/evening in Grote Markt (The Grand Place) in the center of the city. It was a beautiful square surrounded by grand architecture and was an amazing setting to walk around. We happened upon La Rose Blanche right near the edge of the square, and the menu seemed like it was full of traditional Belgian dishes so we thought it would be a good place to eat for the evening.

We chose to sit outside as the weather was gorgeous, and the scenery was so majestic to behold. There was also some sort of festival or concert going on, and there was a full orchestra playing music, as well as marching bands and lots of other entertainment. It felt so surreal to be there as if we were back in some city celebration back in the day.

As we often did during this trip, M and I each got a beer for dinner. M chose a kriek by Mort Subite, and I got a Chimay Blue. This was the first time we had really encountered kriek, a sour cherry beer mostly found in the Brussels area, and it was wonderful. Unfortunately, it was also about this time that things started to turn a bit. The waiter came to pour our beers, and he inexplicably spilled some of my beer on to the table. Instead of apologizing, all he said before leaving was, "Dangerous!" Yes, this is a touristy spot, and yes, we don't speak his precious French language, but it's rare that I see such terrible service. (M's note: We have nothing against French people or the French language, but this waiter was just the embodiment of every stereotype out there about French people and their attitudes towards tourists. And we weren't even in France!)

Because we were hungry, we decided not to send the bread basket back. I don't remember if we were charged for it like in other European countries, but I'm not sure we cared at the time. It was a few pieces of a nice, crusty French loaf. Other than that, though, it was fairly standard.

I liked the Carbonades a la Flamande (Flemish style beef stew) that I had back in Brugge so much that I wanted more of it so that's what I ordered. From what I remember this wasn't nearly as rich or flavorful as the previous night's offering. It was fine, but there was a noticeable difference. Coupled with the rude and inattentive service (more on that later), this was a severe step down.

M got the Boulettes a la Marolienne (meatballs with tomato sauce, onions, Faro beer and pommes frites). Except the fries didn't come with the meatballs, even though the menu specifically said pommes frites. We had photos of the menu and we knew there were supposed to be fries, so where were they? We don't remember all the details this many years later but we think there was an extended period of trying to flag the waiter down for fries, and we don't recall whether they actually arrived since we never took a picture of them if they did. Maybe we were too frustrated about the whole situation and just dug into the fries, or maybe the waiter never brought them even after we asked and we just gave up. No recollection other than that there was some frustration and aggravation about the whole situation (more on the service later).

We also opted to get an order of Fondus aux Fromages (parmesan cheese croquettes). M and I are huge fans of croquettes, and we also really like cheese. At first we thought they might just be something like mozzarella sticks, but instead these were blocks of parmesan, fried and oozing with deliciousness.

In the end, this meal was just okay. The food was nothing special, and the waiter we had was incompetent and also completely inattentive. It took several times for us to actually flag him down whenever we needed anything, and we actually did need things because of all the things that were missing or wrong in the first place. At first we thought it was because we were clearly Americans, but the Spanish tourists sitting a couple tables down from us also were given the silent/ignoring treatment to the point that all of us were joking that we clearly all didn't speak the right language.

Overall, while the food didn't make a lasting impression and the service was terrible, the enjoyable scenery and the beautiful music salvaged some of the night.

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