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Comme Chez Soi + Hotel Amigo Brussels

Sprouting Brussels

Hotel Amigo Brussels Hall © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

There are more painful ways to start the weekend than breakfasting on Sally Clarke’s bread rolls aboard Eurostar. Especially if it is preceded by dining at her eponymous restaurant the night before. Dinner was a set menu held in the intimate private dining room on the (to use estate agents’ speak) lower ground floor of her discreet Kensington Church Street premises. Call it Chatham House Basement. Lucien Freud animal drawings hanging on the walls are a reminder of the late great artist’s fondness for Clarke’s. She’s all about no nonsense good quality English cooking and baking:

Hotel Amigo Brussels © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Comme Chez Soi Brussels © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Saturday lunch was another pescatarian thrill but that’s where the similarity ends. A change of time zone wasn’t the only difference. Comme Chez Soi on Place Rouppe, a sedate square in lower town Brussels, has a Victor Horta influenced art nouveau dining room accommodating just 36 covers. That hasn’t stopped it gaining two Michelin stars. A family owned restaurant, chef Lionel Rigolet is the fourth generation owner. His wife Laurence explained, “Comme Chez Soi was established by my great grandfather in 1921. It moved to the current building 10 years later. We live behind the restaurant.” Comme Chez Soi celebrates classic French cuisine at its most refined:

Comme Chez Soi Dining Room © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

Comme Chez Soi Dining Table © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

There are greater trials than concluding the weekend at Hotel Amigo, a bread roll’s throw from Brussels’ Grand Place. It is of course the continental flagship of the Rocco Forte chain and is Olga Polizzi’s baby. Keeping it in the family, Olga is television presenter Alex Polizzi’s mother who is Sir Rocco Forte’s niece. It’s hard not to fall in love in a city that has districts called Le Chat, Poxcat and Helmet. Testing endurance, at the end of the day, it’s off to Amigo’s health suite. In the words of Bobbie Houston, co founder of Hillsong, “A mannie, a peddie and a massage cause, gentlemen, that’s what you do when you don’t know what to do.” Comme des Garçons.

Comme Chez Soi Laurence Rigolet © Lavender's Blue Stuart Blakley

*Yep caviar costs