I’ve been a fan since the re-opening of “De Pelgrim” a popular pub. Classic all the way, but in a good way. A pub across the street of the brewery, just where it’s supposed to be.
But after the re-opening of this pub (awesome Belgian classics on the menu here btw), a lot more happened in and around the ‘De Coninck’-city brewery. Apparently, the museum tour & tasting is worth your time, but there is more: a top-notch BBQ restaurant, a Michelin star gourmet restaurant serving classic french cuisine. And I haven’t even started on the cheese, meat, bread and chocolate yet!
De Pelgrim – a Belgian classic pub
This food serving pub is one of our favorites on a Friday night after a busy work week. (Do make reservations. We never do and get disappointed quite often. The interior is classic Belgian pub style. Though after the renovation, the glass veranda took it straight to the 21st century. This is the ideal place to tick off some must try Belgian classics: Stoofvlees (a beef stew with beer), Vol-au-vent (chicken, meatballs and mushrooms in a white béchamelsaus or sausage and mashed potatoes. The meat here is truly top class, not chic but that would totally kill these dishes. Have your dinner with a Belgian draft beer, brewed across the street.
Black Smoke – Hidden BBQ gem
When you cross the street an climb the stairs of the old brewery tower, you find Black Smoke. A cocktail bar on the first floor, a BBQ restaurant on the third, and a roof top for hot summer nights on the sixth. Chefs behind the wood fire and smokers are Kasper Stuart and Jord Althuizen. After a road trip visiting 40 BBQ-joints in the US, these guys decided to bring some real American barbecue flavors back to Antwerp and started combining them with Belgian quality meat.
Start off with some overloaded nachos, before selecting your favorite cut of meat. Or go totally wild with the BBQ bonanza. Totally over the top, I must admit, but fingerlicking delicious as well. You will get 1/2 smoked chicken, a dry rub rib, a beer sausage, some pulled pork an a 9to1 brisket. They throw in some rosemary roasted potatoes, a delish dressing sauce and jalapeno-cole-slaw. Overload, overload, overload, but oh so good.
Combine with a local beer (I recommend a “Lost in Spice”), indulge, enjoy and start your diet the day after.
Bread, Cheese, meat and chocolates – Local food boutiques
A local food boutique seems the most appropriate term to describe these shops. Let’s start with cheese. When you say cheese in Belgium, one thinks about Van Tricht almost instantly. Father and Son Van Tricht have been supplying cheese to nearly all of the better restaurants in Belgium for years. Their shop in Berchem (only 2km away from this site) was selected by the Wall Street Journal als Best Cheese Shop in Europe. And now the duo decided to open another one in the City Brewery Site. To make your decision a little easier, their “Vanillien” was especially developed to pair with the classic De Coninck beer.
Next door you can find meat heaven and pure craftmanship at “The Butcher”, the new location of top-butcher Luc De Laet.
Around the corner of “The Butcher”, you can find “The bakery”. As you could guess by now, an artisanal bakery, run by Kenney van Hoorick. On offer: beer bread, rye sourdough bread and stone-ground bread.
If you truly want the Belgian experience, go on a Sunday morning and conquer the long line at the bakery for freshly baked ‘pistolets’ ‘crispy bread rolls’, than conquer the evenly long line at the butcher and combine with “vleessalade” (a spread with ham and mayonaise).
To top it all off, go and shop some exquisite Belgian luxurious chocolates at Jitsk.