L’ultime Atome (Brussels, Belgium)

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.

Despite the somewhat dressed-up interior, L’ultime Atome is actually pretty informal, and the menu is full of fairly straightforward Belgian cafe fare, with dishes like pasta, croque monsieurs, soups, and salads. While I was perusing the menu, one of the waitstaff passed by with a fairly nice plate of vol-au-vent with a cream sauce, so I decided to order that. Vol-au-vent is one of those dishes that harkens back to my childhood: crisped up pre-made puff pastry shells topped with turkey a la king were a fairly common item in the household menu growing up. And L’ultime Atome’s version of this was quite good, with a rich cream sauce built on a pleasantly herbed mirepoix, to which both shredded chicken an veal meatballs were added. It won’t win awards for appearance, but it was quite flavorful.

Dan and Carol both opted for the Veal Cordon Bleu, which was a serviceable dish, but not as good as the vol-au-vent. It did have a nice flavor and a good crispiness, but otherwise, the pasta and sauce weren’t terribly impressive. Nothing wrong, but nothing out of the ordinary, either.

But where L’ultime Atome really shined for me was the dessert. We ordered simply: a Dame Noire (a variant of the French Dame Blanche), a simple dessert consisting of a scoop of chocolate ice cream, some whipped cream, chocolate sauce, and a wafer. But that’s where it shined: the ice cream was a good, rich dark Belgian chocolate, the cream was perfectly whipped and flavorful, and the chocolate sauce was perfect.

Overall, L’ultime Atome was a great little dinner spot for exactly the sort of light dinner we were looking for, in a surprisingly quiet and pleasant neighborhood only a block away from the hustle and bustle of commercial Brussels. I wouldn’t hesitate to come back.

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