Very early on, I Found My Restaurant—a rustic, no-frills place that gave me the authentic Belgian cuisine I was looking for.
When I’m traveling, I rarely dine at the same place more than once, because there are are hundreds of thousands of great places to eat in the world, and my goal is to try as many of them as possible. Reach should exceed grasp, and all that.
I went back to Fin de Siècle a second time, and then a third.
Let’s start with some of the things Fin de Siècle doesn’t have:
- A phone number
- A website
- An English-language menu
- Any printed menu at all
Oh, and they don’t accept credit cards.
The menu, in French, is posted on the wall. “Are you looking for something authentic?’ asked my charming server, in English. She directed me to the six items on the second panel, told me that they were a mix of traditional and modern Belgium standards, and described what each of them was. Service at Fin de Siècle was unrushed, friendly, and always helpful—everyone I dealt with seemed happy to be working there.
My first meal at Fin de Siècle was Lapin à la Kriek, rabbit in Kriek beer sauce. And just like that, I was hooked. Even by American standards, the serving size was large, and I don’t think I’ve ever had a tastier rabbit dish. The side vegetables, too, were perfectly cooked.
A few days later, I was back again. “Jambonneau Moutarde à l’Ancienne” sounds more impressive than “Ham Hock with Mustard Sauce, the Old Fashioned Way’ doesn’t it? Whether in French or in English, it was another exceptional meal.
Fin de Siècle is very popular, and during peak dining times the wait for a table can take quite a while. It’s worth the wait.
Another classic. Carbonnades a la Chimay is a beef stew made with Chimay Grande Réserve, a Belgian dark ale. This was my final meal, for now, in my favourite Brussels restaurant. I haven’t been able to decide whether I liked the Lapin à la Kriek or the Carbonnades a la Chimay more, so further research is definitely required. If only Fin de Siècle were here in Washington, I’d be able to visit once a week.