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Le Frascati

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Judging Le Frascati on the quality of its cuisine alone wouldn’t do justice to the place. Decor-wise, Le Frascati is pretty much your quintessential Brussels brasserie, all wood panelling, mirrors and warmth.  The clientele blends trendy southerners (that’s south-of-the-canal) with regulars, although it’s difficult to tell; everyone seems to receive the mine host treatment. On the food front, however, it’s a textbook example of quality and quantity – and then some.

For starters, we both plumped for the day’s specials. My better half’s scallop ravioli in butter and cherry tomato sauce were to die for, the coquille Saint-Jacques flavours thankfully anything but drowned by the other ingredients. For me, a transalpine marriage made in heaven: foie gras carpaccio with a reduced balsamic dressing. While ever so slightly on the chilly side, the slithers of foie gras were superbly offset by the sweet sharpness of the vinegar and the peppery rocket leaves on which they rested.

Next up, it was my turn to eat seafood ravioli, this time the crab variety. A dozen or so moreish pasta parcels, abundantly filled with crab meat, were smothered in a light seafood bisque and sprinkled with king prawn pieces and torn basil leaves. Across the table, the veal scaloppine with wild mushrooms, while not quite making up for the absence of the eagerly awaited kidneys (the butcher had let the team down, we were told), were expertly cooked, the meat thinly sliced but perfectly moist – and plentiful. 

We craftily combined dessert and coffee by ordering Irish coffees. While by no means the best – that honour belongs to a Galician seafood restaurant in Barcelona – they nonetheless hit the spot.

The bill, which included a beautiful Sicilian cabernet/shiraz blend (€35) and sparkling water, came to €127. It sounds hefty, but we ordered à la carte, and didn’t necessarily choose the cheapest dishes. My foie gras starter, for one, cost €22.

But then again, the portions at Le Frascati are on the ‘unreasonable’ side of generous. It only adds to the family feel of the place. Yes, the convivial atmosphere plays a big part, and the waiting staff makes you feel like a long-lost relative, but the bottom line is, you come here to be fed. And you leave wondering how on earth you managed to put so much food away. Next time we will give them a ring to see what the kidney situation is.

201 Boulevard E Bockstael, Laeken, 02.426.52.73 (booking recommended); www.resto.com/frascati