Mussels in Brussels: Friture René

Visiting Belgium and not enjoying a big pot of mussels just isn’t worth the jet lag. So, last night, Jen and I walked down the street from our hosts’ house for dinner at Friture René a small, traditional, steak, mussels, and fries place.

Yes, that’s all they serve: steak and mussels. Maybe 5 or 6 variations of each. Both come with fries and a side of mayo.

Each of the tables in the 3 main dining areas were draped with comfortable, white & red checked table clothes. We shared the back room with a wonderful, elderly French couple still enjoying their time together.

Our order was easy; 2 pots of mussels in white wine, 2 Duvals (in hindsight, 1 pot would have been enough).

A few moments later the shellfish arrived covered in onion, thyme and garlic, too hot to touch. Smelling and tasting fantastic – if just a hint fishy.

If you go, I highly recommend brushing up on the ways to signal you’d like to pay. Sitting quietly at an empty table and making eye contact with the wait staff doesn’t work.

I finally approached our server and asked in English how I should pay. She lifted her hand and rubbed her thumb against her index and middle fingers and said, “Receipt”.

The old French couple giggled all the way through this exchange.

Friture René
Place de la Résistance 14
1070 Brussels (Anderlecht)

Cash only – no credit cards. Says right on the door.

3 Replies to “Mussels in Brussels: Friture René”

  1. Greta and I sat in a restaurant in brugge for an hour or so politely trying to get someone to let us pay and leave. Dutch are the same way, (at least in aruba) must be insulting to assume a customer is ready to pay when they are done eating and staring at the ceiling.

  2. As a Belgian exiled to London, the mussel quantities baffled me: a normal (but not overgenerous) pot is 1kg (weighed raw but washed) mussels per person. As my girlfriend’s brother & parents were visiting, I went for the 5.5kg bag of astonishingly dirty mussels, the only fresh ones I got my hands on after phoning 7 other fish shops.

    Not only did I spend an unforeseen hour washing them — doing it industrially is clearly cheaper, more practical and wastes less water; the logic beats me as london people have lots of money but little time — but then I ate more than the other four adults combined. What gives? How can one pot suffice for two when some days two are not enough for one? Ils sont fous les non-belges.

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