In the middle of the city center, but tucked away in a small alley, lies A La Bécasse, one of the oldest cafés of Brussels that dates back to the 19th century.
The first few times I went there, I knew more or less where the bar was, so I went looking for a small alley in the street behind the Bourse. Somehow, I managed to walk past and miss it every time. I suspect the people queueing at the neighbouring waffle shop from hiding the entrance from me every time I came by.
Now that I know my way around Brussels, it's actually quite easy to find. When I'm showing travellers around, I love to take them here just see their surprise when stumbling upon a bar they had not expected to find.
As a La Bécasse is a small bar, it is often very crowded. Seeing how well hidden it is, one is left to wonder where all these people come from. It used to be a bar where locals gathered, but more and more tourists have found their way here too.
As I mentioned earlier, this is one of the oldest bars in Brussels. Open since 1877, A La Bécasse has been around for 140 years and the decoration hasn't changed since. They've kept the wooden interior, and the quaint decoration behind the bar reminds me of my grandparents' house. The name of the bar also goes back to an old tradition when it was common to name bars after animals. Other bars in Brussels such as Le Corbeau and La Maison du Cygne date back to the same period. Can you think of other bars in Brussels with animal names? For those wondering why 'La Bécasse' (woodcock) and not another animal, that is because the first owner used to be a hunter.
On offer are typical Brussels beer and traditional Brussels snacks. They've got different kinds of Lambic on tap which are served in ceramic pitchers. The Lambic beer comes from the Timmermans brewery close to Brussels. This kind of beer differs from other beers in that it is fermented through exposure to wild yeasts and bacteria native to the Zenne valley. This process gives the beer its distinctive flavour: dry, vinous and cidery, usually with a sour aftertaste.
If these beers are new for you and you'd like to try them out, you should order the tasting plate. You'll get four different beers: Sweet Lambic Timmermans, White Lambic Timmermans, Kriek and Bourgogne des Flanders.
If you're hungry you can go for the traditional 'tartines bruxelloises' (Brussels sandwiches) with quark, steak tartare, blood sausage, brawn or ham from the Ardennes... They also have more common snacks such as lasagna and spaghetti.