At first, I only knew Le Chaff as a quiet, cosy spot for a drink after strolling on the Sunday morning flea market. But recently, when I returned on a Monday evening, I discovered a completely different side to Le Chaff. The quiet coffee bar that I knew was not so quiet anymore...
Situated along Place Jeu de Balle, Le Chaff is a perfect respite from the commotion of people haggling and browsing through the antique and all kind of trinkets on the flea market. On a sunny day, you can sit on the outdoor terrace and observe the buzz from a distance, while sipping from a cold beer. When the terrace is full, or when the weather isn't just that great, you can sit inside. Although the bar doesn't look that big at first, it is larger than you would expect; the wooden staircaise at the back of the bar leads to another seating area on the first floor. My favourite spot is the table by the window, because from there it is possible to overlook Place Jeu de Balle and you can even spot the Palais de Justice on Place Poelaert in the distance.
The decoration on the first floor is subtle but really nice. It proves how much homeliness can be created with just a few plants. You'll also find a few cool vintage articles that originate from the flea market, such as a vintage chalkboard, an old radio and an antique typewriter... This usually quiet upstairs seating area is also open to people who want get some work done on their laptop, or organize small meetings.
Until recently, this is what Le Chaff meant for me: a harbour of peace and quiet where I got my dose of (biological) tea and overlooked the activity on the Place Jeu de Balle. Little did I know that this was only part of the truth. When I returned on a Monday evening, I discovered a completely different bar. Once a week, on Mondays, the downstairs restaurant area transforms into an intimate concert venue. The band is different every week, but it is always alternative music. When I visited, a Parisian three-headed band played some heavy punk. It goes without saying that the audience was completely different from the Sunday morning customers.
Apart from the concerts, there is another very good reason to go to Le Chaff on a Monday evening. It is not only gig night, it is also hamburger night! Exceptionally, it is not possible to order à la carte, but instead you get to choose one of two different hamburgers, which each cost 6 euros. Unfortunately for the vegetarians, there is no meat-free option, but the burgers are so good they would almost convice a vegetarian to eat meat again. (I'm not a big carnivore myself, but I tried their Molo burger, which I enjoyed that much that I could've eaten a second one.)
In Le Chaff you receive high-quality food, made in-house with fresh ingredients, for reasonable prices varying between 15 and 20 euros. The menu is not that large, but it is varied enough to please carnivores, vegetarians and vegans alike. On Sundays you're welcome for brunch (+/-22 eur).
The drinks menu is pretty interesting too. They serve no mainstream soft drinks such as Coca-Cola. Instead they have biological alternatives such as Fritz Kola, Club Maté, Yoko Matcha... The good news is those soft drinks contain less sugar than their mainstream alternatives. As for the beers, apart from a decent list of blonde, brown and gueuze, they will always have at least one special beer from a Brussels microbrewery. Last time I went, this was the beer Lanterne from the microbrewery L'Ermitage.
Don't bother booking a table on Mondays or Sundays, they don't do reservations then. From Tuesday to Saturday, booking is possible but not required. But if you'd like to sit at one table in particular, you can of course call beforehand to make sure you'll get your favourite spot.
Side note: For those racking their brains over the meaning of 'Le Chaff', seek no further. It doesn't really mean anything. It is just the combination of the initials of the five friends that once decided to open a bar together. But maybe if you guess the five names right, you can negotiate with the waiter to get a free beer? ;)
Want to discover more restaurants in the Marolles? Check out this article for more suggestions.