Leon de Bruxelles – Brussels, Belgium

Leon de Bruxelles – Brussels, Belgium

Mussels and Fries, a National Passion

Belgium’s excellent local pommes frites are not French fries at all— a grievous misnomer, as this universally known and loved side order is Belgian in origin. Although indulged at any time of day, smothered with a healthy dollop of mayonnaise and wrapped in a cardboard cone, they are also the per­fect compliment to Belgium’s other much- heralded specialty, moules (mussels), a combi­nation as beloved and ubiquitous as the American burger and fries.

The well-known Leon de Bruxelles (until recently known as Chez Leon) is the quintessential mussels-and-fries joint. Having secured its fame over 100 years as it slowly expanded into a row of eight old houses and looking every bit the tourist trap, this ven­erable, old-fashioned restaurant is a warren of rooms filled with mussels-devouring Bruxellois.

The frites—twice fried and light as a feather—have long been known as the best in town. The blue-shelled mussels are prepared fourteen differ­ent ways, although there are other regional spe­cialties on the menu such as eel in green sauce (anguilles au vert) made with sorrel, chervil, and parsley.

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