Thursday, 14 August 2014

Dinner at Ellis Gourmet Burger, Brussels

“The best burgers in Brussels,” I’d read. “The best burgers in EUROPE!” I’d been told.

Well, with statements like that how could this burger-lover not pay a visit to the legendary Ellis Gourmet Burger during her time in Brussels?

And with my fellow burger-loving mother and sister visiting last weekend, I thought EGB would be the perfect choice to show them Brussels’ – and maybe even Europe’s – best.

So, with hungry tummies we arrived at EGB last Saturday evening. You can’t book at the weekend, so we got really lucky to swoop in and grab a table just as it became free. We sat down outside, just at the edge of buzzy, pretty Place Sainte Catherine in central Brussels. This was going to be good, we thought. The excitement was paramount.

The menu is basically all burgers, which is epic. There are beef, lamb, chicken and even salmon burgers with all sort of different toppings, and then sides are ordered separately. We were pretty spoilt for choice but all decided to go for the classic cheeseburger, with fries and salad to share on the side.

Order placed, we sat back smugly and watched the queue of burger-lovers hoping to get a table in the sought-after restaurant build up. It seemed like EGB was the place to be.

Trouble was, we sat back watching for quite some time, and smugness soon turned to impatience and frustration. Half an hour had passed since we’d placed our order and there’d been no sign of our burgers.


I was getting a little crangry – that’s cranky and hungry, by the way. I know most people opt for “hangry” (hungry and angry), but it tends to be more crankiness than anger on my part. I'm just not an angry person, OK?

Another ten minutes passed and get this: the table next to us, who had sat down after we’d placed our order(!), got their burgers! Um, WHAT!? That’s not right. And they knew it.

Although pleased to have their burgers they looked at us apologetically as if to say, “Oh, sorry, hungry ladies. We know you should’ve been served before us.” The pained looks on our faces must’ve said it all.

Not. Pleased.

A few minutes later the waiter came over. To apologise, surely? No no.

He came and asked us to remind him what our order was!!!

So they’d clearly lost our order. Brill.

I presumed we’d just got awfully unlucky and were a one-off case, but we then saw the same thing happen to the couple on our other side – they were served after people who’d ordered after them. Some serious system failure was going on in that kitchen.

I stared longingly into the restaurant, eyeing up every burger that came out of that kitchen, hoping desperately they were ours and dying a little bit inside as they were taken to another table.

Mum eventually asked where our burgers were and the waiter told us they’d be 30 seconds.

They were not 30 seconds.

A good five minutes later and about 50 minutes after we’d ordered, we were FINALLY brought our burgers. PRAISE BE TO GOD!

But they’d only gone and got our order wrong. Despite specifically asking for no mustard or ketchup in her burger, twice, that little detail was ignored, and back to the kitchen went my sister's burger. More waiting. (Not for me, mind, I was selfishly tucking in.) At least Holls had the fries to munch.

Luckily, Holly was swiftly brought a replacement and we all got stuck into our long-awaited dinner.

So, how were the burgers?

Well they were good. Delicious even. But I don’t think any burger can be sufficiently tasty that waiting nearly an hour pales into insignificance. And to be honest, I thought the actual meat patty could’ve been a bit chunkier. Let’s not scrimp, now.

The chips were divine – Belgian frites at their finest – although the salad didn’t seem super fresh. Mama said she thought some bits seemed partially frozen. Less than ideal.

To be honest with you I think my burger judgement may be a bit clouded. Had we been served in less than half an hour, I’d probably be sitting here writing “OMG they were the best burgers EVAAAAAA!” But I’m not.

EGB is clearly a popular place, and you don’t become that popular for no reason. It’s trendy and tasty, two things I love.

But we couldn’t help wondering whether the restaurant has become a victim of its own success. EGB is actually quite a big restaurant of multiple floors – perhaps too big when packed on a Saturday evening for the size of the kitchen.

Or maybe they think/know customers will keep coming regardless of how long they have to wait.

Or maybe we just had an unfortunate experience.

To be fair the waiter did apologise for the wait upon finally bringing us our food, but we sort of felt like it wasn’t really sufficient. It was as if they didn’t care quite enough. Had there been more of an apology or maybe a slight discount on the bill, we probably would’ve come away feeling a lot more positive and I probably wouldn’t be writing this now.

Considering how much I'd been looking forward to Ellis Gourmet Burger, it was all a bit of a let-down. I'm not angry, just disappointed... (And we all know that's the worst.)

But on the positive side, they have foam soap in the loos. So that’s something. Swings and roundabouts, right?

We left EGB a lot later than expected and wandered into the centre of town as night fell. It was buzzing with life that summer Saturday night, and I made sure to take the Hosie gals to the best chocolate shops (slash the ones that give out free tasters - I've obviously sussed them all out.)

Check out Grand Place, ma dears:

Isn't it beautiful? I'm sure going to miss this place when I leave. And guess what: these two chumps have left and I miss them already...

OK, burger rant over. Anyone else got any similar restaurant tales to tell?

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