For our last full meal in Paris, we met up with my brother and sister-in-law one last time for an outing to l’Européen, an impressively large an busy brasserie located directly across the street from Gare de Lyon, one of Paris’ most busy train stations. It also has a reputation for good service, classic French bistro fare, and good seafood. Going inside, Brasserie l’Européen definitely has the brasserie look down pat: the place is filled with shiny fixtures, neatly-made tables with crisp, white tableclothes, and waitstaff darting about in equally crisp, white aprons, delivering food and wine bottles to tables. Also out front is a rather large and impressive seafood counter, with a member of the staff preparing various fruits de mer. We were promptly welcomed, and escorted to a nice corner table by the front window where we could enjoy some people watching as people were entering and leaving the train station across the street.
Our last full day in Brussels was one of wandering and exploring. Sophie went off to see some old sites from when she lived there. Dan went to check out The Royal Museum for Central Africa, mostly a museum about Belgium’s sordid colonial past. And Carol and I decided to do a bit of a walking tour, checking out the botanical garden, the old 19th century homes around Square Ambiorix, and then checking out the Parc du Cinquantenaire and L’arc de Triomphe, the last of these being a rather large and impressive park originally built in 1880 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Belgium. At the Arch, we rendezvoused with Dan and Sophie, and decided to find a pleasant place to eat, eventually settling on Carpe Diem, a brasserie just east of the Arch on Avenue de Tervueren. It’s getting almost to be a running joke at this point, but like a lot of the previous reviews, Carpe Diem is your basic Belgian brasserie, with a menu focusing primarily on traditional Belgian dishes (I must make a note to myself here to try some more ethnic food the next time I’m in Brussels…). But they really do have a good selection of traditional Belgian dishes, including Lapin à la Gueuze (Rabbit in a Gueuze beer sauce), Carbonades Flamandes (Flemish stew), Chicons au Gratin (basically potatoes au gratin), Vol-au-vent, and Stoemp de Saison (basically an elaborate mashed potatoes), as well as a good selection of Belgian beers and side dishes.
Since we ended up unexpectedly in Brussels for the evening, Sophie decided to take us on another walking tour of part of Brussels, ending up at L’ultime Atome, a nice Brasserie in the southeast part of town (Ixelles). Located a block off of the shopping street of Chaussee d’Ixelles, l’Ultime Atome is basically a neighborhood brasserie, focusing on typical Belgian food and having a rather extensive beer list. The decor of L’ultime Atome also has a bit of the Art Deco look, although more of the 1980s and 1990s “Art Deco Revival” style than true Art Deco, but it’s still a pleasant enough interior, rather spacious as well. If I go back, I’d like to go during the day so I can check out one of the tables outside on the terrace, which has a nice view down to the church down the street. But we were quickly seated in the bustling restaurant and sipping on our beers.
Well, after completing a relatively enjoyable visit to Southeast Michigan, we headed back home to New Hampshire. We decided upon landing that we were relatively hungry, so decided to check out a place that had been on my hit list for a while: Republic Cafe. Republic is another example of what’s becoming a pretty common concept these days in the food world: a brasserie that focuses on showcasing local foods and beverages. Built in the classic “Parisian Cafe” model, it’s basically a long and narrow establishment with a large bar and kitchen on the left, and some seating on the right (booths and high tops). Everything about the place is a bit funky, our table had a funky brass lamp on it, our water was served to us in an old Patron bottle, and a major feature of the restaurant space is a large specials chalkboard…