In the 'restaurant district' of Ixelles lies an real little gem. What was once a ironmonger's shop has now been transformed into a fancy restaurant in art decor style, in which several decorative accents of the old shop have been preserved. This is the place to be if you ever want to dine out and surprise your girlfriend (I speak out of personal experience).
The first thing that catches the eye when you enter the restaurant is the big, round clock above the stairs. This wasn't part of the former interior, but it is definitely an original and fitting gimmick. Your eye will follow the narrow stairs up to the second floor where on the balcony, small tables are lined up next to a wall made up from hardwood drawers dating back to the hardware shop from 1903.
Actually, many elements have remained unchanged. Not only the hardwood drawers, but also the stairs, the balconies, the counter and the floor are original and over a hundred years old. Just have a look at the tiles and you'll notice the tear and wear of time (but hurry, because they plan to restore them soon).
Just above the stairs is a tiny room with only one table. From here, the former boss supervised his hardware shop. Today, this table can be booked by those who wish to discuss delicate matters while dining.
The best table, though, is situated on the second floor, which used to be a storage space. There is now an extra room with a more tables which is also used on busy days. It is the table facing the bar, next to the balcony that has the best view over the restaurant. Or maybe the most iconic view, as from here one looks straight over the stairs and the round clock.
The house used to have a small garden and it is easy to tell where this was. The walls at the back of the restaurant are painted green as a reference to the former garden.
The credits for this fascinating interior design go to the architect and cook Pinto, a student of Victor Horta who also designed the Belga Queen in Brussels. Other works of him are the Docks in Antwerp and the Pakhuis in Ghent, that together with La Quincallerie belong to the same restaurant group 'Pleasures'.
I've been talking a lot about the setting, but an equally, if not more important aspect about a restaurant is its food. In La Quincaillerie, it is all about 'bistronomie', which is the blending of 'gastronomie' and 'brasserie'. That is because they focus on quality food, full of flavour (gastronomie), but in fulfilling portions and at reasonable prices (brasserie).
The food and drinks contain only biodynamic ingredients, meaning no pesticides have been used and harvesting only takes place within a certain moon cycle.
We opted for the 3 courses-menu 'Le Saveur' and were not disappointed. As first course we tried the oysters and the poultry croquettes. As a main dish, my boyfriend ordered the guinea fowl breast while I had the Iceland cod filet. The dessert was some kind of lemon ice cream and chocolate mousse with cookie crumbles. All dishes were nicely presented and full of flavour, although my favourites were the poultry croquettes and the dessert. The portions were not exactly huge, but certainly satisfying. There are options for vegetarians too.
The 'Pleasures' group works together with brewery Van Steenberge that agreed to brew a beer especially for the group. The result is Principale, a high fermentation beer, available in both blond and brown.
As you can see, there's plenty of reasons to go and check out this restaurant. But be sure to make a reservation beforehand, since it's often rather crowded.