Clearly off the beaten track, Au Stekerlapatte is a real hidden gem in the heart of the Marolles. Even without knowing what ‘Stekerlapatte’ means, it sounds so typically ‘Brussels’ that it spontaneously incites curiosity. We checked it out, and our assumption proved to be correct. Au Stekerlapatte is a real go-to if you’re looking for traditional Belgian food cooked to perfection.
First of all, let this be clear. Au Stekerlapatte is open again, guys! After the restaurant was closed and sold several times, it came in the hands of the actual owner who opened it again and intends to keep it that way. It is not on your mainstream itinerary, so you really have to know about it. Now why do you have to know about it? Let me tell you.
What I like most about Stekerlapatte, is that everything about this place exudes ‘Brussel-ness’. The name, the food, the setting… Just by looking at its façade, you can tell this is a place that has seen the years go by. The establishment is about a century old!
The Marolles neighborhood has changed a lot over time and has known years with much more activity when the streets were teeming with local businesses. In the seventies and eighties, there were a lot of spectacles taking place in this neighborhood, and after the show, artists and their audience used to gather in Au Stekerlapatte for food and drinks. Famous people like Philippe Noiret, Jeanne Moreau and Ringo Starr have dined here. Check out the hallway, the walls are covered with playbills from that time.
The rest of the interior design is simple, yet classy. There is a lot of wooden furniture, a piano, some antique elements and large mirrors that cover the walls. You should also pay special attention to the ceiling, because it is adorned with a beautiful, large stained-glass window.
Don’t the puppets on the wall look familiar to you? That’s because they come from the famous puppet theater Bij Toone. Another eyecatcher in the interior design is the comic book on the counter, but this is no decoration, it is actually for sale. Du côté de chez Poje recounts humoristic tales about a bar owner from Brussels and his wife Micheline. The cartoons have been published in French, Flemish… and in Brussels dialect. (Those interested can buy a book for €15.)
As for the food, you can expect typical Belgian dishes, such as carbonnade flamande (stew) with Chimay Bleu, Bloempanch (some kind of black pudding) and meatballs with tomato sauce. Another speciality of the house are the spareribs, marinated in honey and baked in the oven, and so tender that the meat comes off the bone by itself. The general thread here is ‘Burgundian’ cuisine with overall quite meaty dishes.
Even the dessert is typically Belgian, with options such as 'speculoos mousse' and 'speculoos ice cream'. Speculoos is a type of spiced shortcrust biscuit and a Belgian speciality.
According to the time of year, new suggestions appear on the menu with seasonal products such as asparagus, mussels, game, sauerkraut… There are not many vegetarian options on the menu, but the available dishes can always be adapted to suit anyone's culinary preferences.
With Belgian food comes Belgian beer, and that’s something they have understood very well in Au Stekerlapatte. They have a selection of about 45 different beers, several of which are brands that are more difficult to find and come from different Brussels (micro)breweries such as Cantillon, En Stoemelings, Brasserie iLLeGaaL, Brasserie de la Senne…
Au Stekerlapatte stands for excellent service and friendly, multilingual waiters. As most dishes come at prices between 17 and 21 euros, Au Stekerlapatte is the place to go for an affordable and authentic Brussels experience.
Finally, I had to know. What is a ‘Stekerlapatte’? The answer turned out to be as absurd as the name, as it refers to a three-spined stickleback, a small fish with many bones. Or it can also be a drunk person who stays close to the wall as he staggers on.
Want to discover more restaurants in the Marolles? Check out this article for more suggestions.