I stand in front of the lines of bottles at La Canne à Sucre and take stock. Once again I am in the presence of copious quantities of rum. But here no bottle appears the same, all are superior quality, and after 30 years they are jostling for space in the nursery. Children have grown up and moved on, but the rum will stay and probably last forever - the owner is even writing a book on the subject.
Jean-Claude and Christiane’s rum bar behind Place Sablon is a loving homage to several years spent in the French Antilles: banana plants, banana leaves, unobtrusive steel pan music and a glowing fruit-adorned bar. There is a food menu that features recipes from Martinique, Réunion, Guadeloupe and Mauritius, but more than anything it features rum.
But first, Christiane suggests I try an aperitif. She hands me the drinks menu and leaves me to peruse it for some while. There are 250 cocktails to choose from: enough for weeks (years?) of cocktail drinking.
While we sip our delicate creations and allow the rum to creep up on us, Jean-Claude is cooking. Not the intriguingly-named “poisson à la sauce chien” this time; but parrotfish in a creole sauce of lime and coconut milk, and the same fish prepared in absinthe. Not only do these turn out to be delicious, but it is also the first time I’ve eaten such a photogenic fish.
Our chef is an experimenter. He tells us he’s currently trying out a variation of the staple deep-fried Belgian croquette, but with chicken inside and accompanied by a mango sweet and sour sauce. “I tried it out on my friends”, he says. We nod encouragingly and say it sounds good. “Yes, that’s what I thought”, he muses.
Later on Friday and Saturday nights, Jean-Claude sheds his chef’s clothes for something more comfortable, and joins in with the group of musicians and drums in the corner. Fridays and Saturdays from around 10:30pm is the time to pitch up: there’s no need to eat, just pick a cocktail (at random?) and make the most of it all. A place that should appeal to everybody!
Rue des Pigeons 12, 1000, Bruxelles
+32 0475 472023
Google map: bit.ly/LL1U2X
* Bec is our Been there local for Brussels. You can view her profile here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/brussels-local-rebecca.jsp and follow her tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/Becinbrussels
Send your feedback or queries to email@example.com