Les filles, plaisirs culinaires
The joke goes: “Two lesbians walk into an organic, fair trade, vegan-catered café.”
So is it a myth or true that you can go into any organic food restaurant in any town and that’s where the gay women will be hanging out? Being a vegetarian, organic, fair trade kind of woman, I tried not to stereotype other lesbians. So I thought I’d try the organic food restaurant called Les Filles, Plaisirs Culinaires to try to find out if the myth had any truth in it.
The restaurant is located at the centre of Brussels in 46 Rue du Vieux Marche aux Grains, but unless I had the number of the street carefully written down in my notebook, I would not have found it. There are no big front windows; there are no neon signs. Instead, the entrance to the restaurant takes the form of two enormous dark carriage doors. There’s a doorbell you have to ring to be let in. And then there is a wide, striking old staircase leading up to the first floor, and that’s where the restaurant is.
I say restaurant, but really, it is more like an upmarket canteen. There are a few long wooden tables with many chairs and people sit together to eat. The kitchen is open-plan, but not in a flashy, in your face, showy off kind of way. It is not directly visible from the sitting area, but it is there to be seen if anyone is interested.
The place is very clean and quite minimalistic with strong white light everywhere. There is no dirt and there are no imperfections to hide behind dimmed lights there. Everything is pure, transparent and open. The light makes it an unromantic place, but the decoration and the warm, friendly staff make it a cosy one.
Upon arrival, me and my friend were seated and a lovely young woman explained to us the ‘concept’ of the restaurant. “There is no menu”, she said. Instead, we were being offered a “unique” menu. I, being a vegetarian, worried whether my needs would be accommodated. “But of course”, said the girl with a very understanding smile, “we have many vegetarian costumers and we are able to replace the meat protein of the menu with a fish or vegetarian option”. Relief!
We were immediately served some antipastos, consisting of bread, olives, hummus and sardines. This was followed with spinach on a pesto bed served with fresh goat cheese. For the main course we had to get up and serve ourselves from a small buffet. The choice was simple. Potatoes, vegetables, meat. They were kept in large heavy ceramic colourful pots. The potatoes were mashed with the skin on. The vegetable of the day was chicory and the meat was beef. For my vegetarian option I received delicious eggs directly served at the table. For dessert, the choice was between apple cake and cheese.
The wine was good, but not spectacular. The water was tapped and filtered, which I found wonderfully ecological, and wish that all restaurants in Brussels offered this option. The food was not 100% perfect, but it was obvious that it was cooked by people who love to cook and to be hospitable. And you feel the goodness of the food. You feel the pure ingredients, you feel the vitamins and minerals, you feel the warmth. I guess you feel as if you received something more than a mere culinary experience. And personally, I loved the “unique’ menu idea.
We make choices from the moment we get up until the moment we got to bed. Not having a choice as to your food is a very refreshing idea. It felt a bit like being back in my parents house where I just ate what was served to me. And some may say that they’d rather choose what they have for dinner, and most of the time so would I. But in this little gem of a restaurant, I was just happy to eat what was given to me and I felt safe that everything would be tasty. And it was.
But now, back to our business. Is it a lesbian restaurant? No. Were there any lesbians on the evening when I went? Yes. Do I think it is likely that more lesbians will be there when I go back? Yes. Will I, in fact, go back? Oh, yes. Do I recommend it? Definitely.
Les Filles, Plaisirs Culinaires, Rue du Vieux Marche aux Grains 46, 1000 Brussels. Website