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Patatak opens in central Brussels, showing how Belgian fries should be done

20:41 09/12/2020

Anyone who wants to fully understand why Belgian fries are so celebrated should give Patatak a try - a chip shop with an original year-old location on the Parvis in Saint-Gilles and a brand new location downtown next to Cirio by the Bourse.

"I wanted to open a real frietkot, locally sourced, with everything homemade," owner Adrien Dewez told The Bulletin.

"A frietkot is somewhere where everybody should be welcome - no matter the money they have at the end of the month, no matter what they want to eat, so we try to have the quality of the past and we try to innovate and look forward to the future."

The result is the best of tradition offered alongside items suitable for all diets: vegan, veggie and omni. For the traditional, locally sourced potatoes are freshly cut and cooked in blanc de boeuf (beef fat). This is the traditional cooking grease because, when married with the essential cooking method of frying once at lower temperature and then once again at a higher temperature, it creates a chip which is perfectly crunchy on the outside and  soft and pillowy on the inside.

For vegans, one of the dishes Patatak offers is sweet potato chips cooked in vegetable oil. The sauces are traditional as they are all homemade (including the ketchup). Joining the regular tartar sauce, curry, mayonnaise, piccalilli and ketchup, you have basil, tarragon, chipotle and aioli. Additionally some sauces are available egg-free.

There are other items on the menu: chicken nuggets, cheese, mushroom or prawn croquettes, fermented vegetables, vegetable puff pastry galettes, fricadelles, carbonnades and meatballs Liège-style, as well as specials such as vegan burgers, spare ribs, roast chicken with apple sauce and a vegan mushroom stir-fry.

A selection of artisanal beers is available, with an emphasis on the Dupont Brewery and the Brasserie de la Senne - but also highlighting a beer each month from new small breweries in Brussels and beyond. Unlike the pretentious and over-priced Dutch foray into artisanal chips that opened on Rue Sainte-Catherine a few months ago, Patatak is low-key, friendly and very competitively priced.

Dewez also takes zero waste very seriously. "We found out that we can take our potato peels, our paper dishes and packaging and compost them to create a quality soil for the potato farmer - so we pay him to take our waste and compost it," he said.

"Before that we had about 200kg of waste every week. Now we have three bags, so more or less the equivalent of two families while serving hundreds and hundreds of meals every week. We make food for the equivalent of 300 families and we only have the waste of two families."

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Written by Richard Harris