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 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. 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 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 at noon on Wednesdays; it’s our little ritual. We always order the same things: edamame, gyoza, and gyudon. Sometimes we go to Maru, a Korean restaurant that has a good bibimbap. Another ritual: on Saturdays we go to Le Canterbury 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 or Bouchéry 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 for sweets or fine bread.
For shopping, I like Cachemire Coton Soie, 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 Kiss Mad, 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. 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: 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. 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 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 or Candide 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. After this we’ll have a nap in the afternoon, and if it’s summer, we’ll have an Ice-Cream at Zizi, 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, and Rodolph Jansens, and they’re very close to each other so it’s very easy to have a look. The Museum of Ixelles is also very good.Adrien Coelho Rue Américaine, 102 adriencoelho.com/ Almine Rech 20 Rue de l’Abbaye alminerech.com Bouchery Chaussée d’Alsemberg 812/ bouchery-restaurant.be Cachemire Coton Soie Rue Franz Merjay 53 cachemirecotonsoie.com Julien Hazard Rue Vanderkindere 137 julienhazard.be Kis Mad Chaussée de Waterloo 504 kismad.be Kokuban Rue -55, Vilain XIIII-straat 53 kokuban.be/fr Filigranes Avenue Louis Lepoutre 21 filigranes.be/fr/ Label Green Rue Alphonse Renard 12 label-green.be Le Canterbury Renbaanlaan 2 lecanterbury.be/ La Gazzetta Rue de la Longue Haie 12 gazzetta.be Le Pain Quotidien Chaussée de Waterloo 515 lepainquotidien.be Le Pigeon Noir Rue Geleytsbeek 2 lepigeonnoir.be Librairie Candide Place Georges Brugmann 2 librairiecandide.tumblr.com Nonbe Daigaku Avenue Adolphe Buyl 31 nonbedaigaku.com Maru Chaussée de Waterloo 510, ww.facebook.com/pages/MARU/431797293563275?sk=info&tab=overview Museum of Ixelles Rue Jean Van Volsem 71 museedixelles.irisnet.be Park Tenbosch Ixelles Rodolphe Janssen Rue de Livourne 35 galerierodolphejanssen.com Scènes de Menage Place Georges Brugmann 4 https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sc%C3%A8nes-de-Menage/299677953548713?sk=timeline St Aulaye bakery Various locations saintaulaye.be/ Thierry Boutemy Rue Vanderkindere Straat 375 thierryboutemy.com/ Xavier Hufkens 6 rue St-Georges | St-Jorisstraat xavierhufkens.com ZIZI Rue de la Mutualite 57 glacierzizi.be Photos courtesy of Marie Hocepied