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La Bonne Humeur, Mussels Restaurant in Brussels, Belgium

By laura - April 30, 2013 (Updated: February 13, 2016)

Mussels in Brussels

Mussels in Brussels (Photo via Wiki)

“You’ll know you’re there,” I say to friends and colleagues to whom I’ve extolled the virtues of Brussels’ La Bonne Humeur “when you see the enormous mussel outside.”

Yes, a colossal mussel, stuck on a spike like the head of an anti-monarchist during the time of the Tudors and Stuarts. Hardly the precursor to a fine dining experience you might think. But after visiting La Bonne Humeur I might make it a prerequisite for all future restaurant trips. “ What’s that you say? A new Belgian eatery? Yes, I’d love to- actually, hang on. Is there a plastic mussel outside? No? I’m sorry, I can’t. I simply can’t.” The hallmark of quality has been established, and it involves an oversized bivalvia mollusca crafted from fibreglass.

The menu is extensive (and traditionally Belgian) enough: rabbit in Kriek, eel, poached cod, cheval, steak and so on. However, there’s one dish that they do better than anything else. Oui, c’est vrai: moules frites. For around 18 euros you can have a kilo of moules in your chosen stock – marineres, vin blanc and a l’escargots are amongst the regulars, but there’s also a constantly-evolving list of specials currently featuring moutarde, lardons and feta. If you so desire, you can super-size to 1.5 kilos and enjoy a supplement of cream but you’d need to be a) completely nuts or b) have an obesity-related death wish. But my God, they’re good. And so it’s for the moules, the glorious, never-ending cast iron vats of moules, that I keep returning.

Moules, Glorious Moules.

But, I hear you cry, there are lots of places in Brussels that do mussels. Alongside Jean Claude Van Damme and bureaucratic civil administration it’s probably the city’s greatest claim to fame. What makes this place special? Well, since I moved to Brussels I’ve heard innumerable tales of the damage caused by English-speakers and Eurocrats. All the authenticity has been stripped from the city centre since hoards of tourists, expats and their families descended. Desiring nothing more in the way of a culinary experience than a cone of chips or a defrosted waffle on the journey between Manneken Pis and Grand Place, their arrival has meant the quality of traditional dishes has plummeted.

But La Bonne Humeur? It’s as if the whole place has been instagrammed. The formica tables have been rubbed white in patches by Belgian elbows during the days when fags and food went hand in hand. The owner grins bleary-eyed from behind the counter, offering around ashtrays and shots of limoncello after hours on a Saturday when the doors are safely locked. To weary expat eyes, it’s a glimpse of old Brussels seen through a hazy lomo lens.

So go. GO. Now, before the Eurocrats find it. Look out for the giant mussel.

Tempted by this review? Book your table at La Bonne Humeur online now. 

Book your table at La Bonne Humeur online now

Restaurant de la Bonne Humeur
244 Chausee de Louvain,
1000 Bruxelles
Phone: 02/230.71.69

For more great restaurants in Belgium and beyond, check out our Restaurant Review page.

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Laura
Laura is a teacher and freelance writer who left the North of England for Brussels in the summer of 2012. Currently, she's working on her first novel and writes bits and pieces here and there to keep up her stamina. Her favourite things include Desert Island Discs, maudlin Irish folk songs and imitating people's accents. You can read more from Laura at Parliament of Owls.

2 comments

  1. Comment by Someone

    Someone May 1, 2013 at 15:11

    Talking about traditional dishes , while in Belgium , if you have the opportunity , try out “zurkelpatatten” (sorrel potatoes) restaurants probably won’t serve them since sorrel isn’t easy to get by .. Delhaize sometimes sells little jars or sorrel , usually a few weeks per year . But if you get the chance , either at some “home restaurant” as a special request or if you find someone who cultivates fresh sorrel ( every single farmer in Belgium has a patch in his back yard) don’t miss out on a very very traditional taste. Goes very well with fried sausages.

    Sorrel – FR: Oseille – NL: Zurkel

    My plate today:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/44490053@N04/8698946938/

  2. Comment by Laura

    Laura May 2, 2013 at 18:08

    Oo, I will – sounds delicious!

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