Atlantic Canadian Lobster Festival in Belgium

By alison - May 26, 2009 (Updated: May 30, 2016)

Lobster Bisque copyright ACM Photography

Despite Brussels’ reputation for having excellent seafood, one thing I miss most from my Canadian home is lobster. Say what you will about Maine, Irish or Caribbean lobster, but for me, the best of the best has to be Atlantic Canadian Lobster.

So imagine my surprise when I open up my weekly Flanders Today and see an article titled Lobster Festival with an opening sentence that reads:

After 10 years of being confined to Brussels’ eateries, the whole of the country is now joining in the annual Atlantic Canada Lobster Festival, which celebrates the taste of new season lobster.

I learned that for an entire month, Atlantic Canadian Lobster would be featured on special menus of over 50 restaurants in Belgium. I filed this important fact away in my brain for future research and promptly forgot about it.

Although I grew up on the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick, lobster was a rare treat and usually came in the form of a lobster roll which, for the uninitiated, is simply a hotdog roll, sometimes toasted but not always, with lobster meat mixed with a bit of mayonnaise and maybe a piece of leaf lettuce for colour. Fantastic!

lobster boil copyright ACM Photography

It wasn’t until I met Andrew that eating lobster became a real family tradition. Growing up, Andrew lived in a small village where the traditional industry was the lobster fishery. Every summer, we look forward to huge lobster boils with the whole family. It only takes a pot of seawater on the BBQ to steam these delicious bugs. Then we enjoy them in the traditional way – with lobster bibs, nut-crackers, picks, messy-hands and nothing else but some melted butter to dip the meat in.

Here in Brussels, I haven’t been overwhelmed with the quality of the lobster I’ve encountered. First of all, it’s very expensive. Back home, we could feed a whole family on the cost of one lobster here.

The second problem is that Europeans like to dress-up their lobster too much. On the few occasions I’ve had lobster here, it has been grilled rather than steamed and to my taste the meat was cooked way too much. Besides, half the fun of eating lobster is in breaking into the shell and having a sense of accomplishment when you liberate that juicy bit of claw meat.

Fast forward to several days after reading about the Lobster Festival… We found ourselves among friends at Jaloa, a lovely restaurant on Place Sainte Catherine. The six of us were informed that the special menu consisted entirely of lobster dishes. The only caveat was that the entire table had to order it. It wasn’t a hard sell.

Our 4 courses of Lobster goodness were fantastic. Despite the fact that normally I prefer my lobster with no muss or fuss, each and every course was done to perfection and the star ingredient was permitted to shine and I didn’t even have to get my hands dirty.

Will I go back to Jaloa again for non-lobster fare? Absolutely. Will I try another lobster menu in Brussels? Possibly, but it will have high standards to attain to compare to Jaloa, and even higher to compare to an Atlantic Canadian patio.

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Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She has visited 45 countries and is currently slow travelling through North America in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
I loved my time in Riga, Latvia a few years ago and Adi's post takes me right back. It's a European travel... - 3 days ago


  1. Comment by expatraveler

    expatraveler May 26, 2009 at 15:46

    Wow – that sounds incredible! I’ve only had 1 perfect lobster in my life and that was at an expensive dinner in Vegas. Besides that, I haven’t had it all too much but this past Christmas was great…
    Your photos look so tempting and the outting and event sounds very exciting!

  2. Comment by Alison

    Alison May 26, 2009 at 16:29

    Haha, I wouldn’t expect Vegas to have great lobster but then again, Brussels is landlocked too 🙂 I guess they can fly them anywhere within 12 hours so they stay pretty fresh.

  3. Comment by pugwash pops

    pugwash pops June 4, 2009 at 15:15

    … tasty blog … nice reminder of how lucky we are … can’t beat as fresh as from the crate floating at the end of Tim’s wharf! … great pic of Dan’l cooking the bugs … we’ll have to do it again … mmmmmmmmmmm! … luv PP

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