Take it from Marie Hocepied, founder and editor-in-chief of the snazzy webzine Recto Verso, unwinding from a day’s load calls for palate delectations and a massage once in a while.
Having recently printed her webzine’s two year anniversary edition (hurrah!), this mother-of-two takes time from a bottlenecked schedule to point the way to chic brasseries, flashy necklaces, and even leaves room for ice cream!
I’m originally from Charleroi. I arrived in Brussels 12 years ago for my studies and then I just stayed. But I gladly head down to Charleroi to see my family and friends. Brussels is the town where I feel the most comfortable and it’s also the place where my kids were born. I now live in Forest, Altitude Cent, and with Park Duden just in front, it’s very airy and cozy. I tend to stay in this area and arrange all of my appointments here to avoid wasting time in the car.
I like Brussels because of it’s human size. I would be lost in Paris or London. Brussels is touching also because it’s not perfect. Here, I feel that everything is possible. There’re a lot of new things to do. But at the same time, it’s difficult to change the habits or minds of some people in Brussels. I travel abroad from time to time for work, and when I come back I feel I can breathe again. Even more now that I’m a mother.
I love to eat and discover new places. I like spending time at the table with people I like, just to discuss things and have a break from our busy day. La Gazzetta (Rue de la Longue Haie 12 Lange Haagstraat 1050) is my favorite Italian restaurant. It breathes Italy: spritz, burrata, wine, and pasta of the day. It’s an easy place with a good atmosphere. It’s very small, but I love to spend time there with my husband and friends. I also like Le Pigeon Noir (2 Rue Geleytsbeekstraat 1180). Henri De Mol, the chef, is quite the character! Now he has one star, but not when we first started to go there. It’s a kind of brasserie-chic-Belge, a sort of ‘café de village.’ No bling-bling, very simple yet very delicious. Nonbe Daigaku (31 Avenue Adolphe Buyllaan 1050) is my favorite Japanese restaurant in Brussels. If you are just two, you should sit at the bar! With Jeanne, my five-year old, we go to Kokuban (Rue Vilain XIIII-straat 53 1000) at noon on Wednesdays; it’s our little ritual. We always order the same things: edamame, gyoza, and gyudon. Sometimes we go to Maru (510 Chaussée de Waterloosesteenweg 1050) a Korean restaurant that has a good bibimbap. Another ritual: on Saturdays we go to Le Canterbury (Avenue de l’Hippodrome 2 Renbaanlaan 1050) for lunch with my husband and the kids. They’re very child friendly! It’s a Brussels institution where you can order a kip-compote or fish & chips on the nice terrace, and the service is perfect. Chalet de la Forest (43 Drève de Lorrainedreef) or Bouchéry (Chaussée D’Alsemberg 812A Steenweg op Alsemberg 1180) are very top places to enjoy a good moment with my husband. We try to do this often, to have a break in the week.
I haven’t yet found the best Sunday brunch, a place where you can stay a long time with kids. So we prefer to organize brunch at home with friends and go to St Aulaye (377 Rue Vanderkinderestraat 1180) for sweets or fine bread.
For shopping, I like Cachemire Coton Soie, (53 Rue Franz Merjaystraat 1050) especially because of their selection of necklaces: it’s incredible, they are big and so luminous. To buy the best fruits and vegetables, I go to Kis Mad, (504 Chaussée de Waterloosesteenweg 1050) which is like an ‘epicerie fine.’ They know how to select the perfect melon for the perfect time! For bio and organic things, I go to Label Green (12 Rue Alphonse Renardstraat 1050). This is where I buy my granola, essential oils or different grains. I became more conscious of what I eat after the birth of my children. This does not necessarily mean light or diet food, but good and authentic products. For instance, the cheese of Julien Hazard (137 Rue Vanderkinderestraat 1180) : their selection is great and very fresh, and apart from cheeses, their baguette is the best you can find in Brussels. Every weekend (or nearly) I buy myself a bouquet of flowers, which I pick up at Thierry Boutemy (375 Rue Vanderkinderestraat 1180). For some pampering, I go to Adrien Coelho’s new Beauty Care Studio. It’s the perfect place to relax and enjoy a massage from time to time. Scène de Ménage (4 Place Georges Brugmannplein 1050) is a nice place for when you need little gift or just to find new vases.
For books, I like the good recommendations of Isabelle from Filigrane’s Corner on Avenue Lepoutre (21 Avenue Louis Lepoutrelaan 1050 or Candide (2 Place Georges Bruggmann for their great kid’s corner.
My favorite day is perhaps Saturday, because I’m very disconnected between my daughter’s ballet lesson at Les petits Rats du Chatelain, playtime at Parc Tenbosh, and breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien (Avenue Louise 124 Louizalaan 1050). After this we’ll have a nap in the afternoon, and if it’s summer, we’ll have an Ice-Cream at Zizi, (Rue de la Mutualité 57A Onderlinge Bijstandstraat 1180) which is not so far from home. I always take a scoop of stracciatella!
As for art, I think there are a lot of interesting art galleries like Xavier Hufkens, Almine Rech, (Rue de l’Abbaye 20 Absijstraat 1050) and Rodolph Jansens (Rue de Livourne 35 Livornostraat 1050) and they’re very close to each other so it’s very easy to have a look. The Museum of Ixelles (71 Rue Jean Van Volsemstraat 1050) is also very good.