EU Today features La Porte des Indes

EU Today 26 Jan 2016

There cannot be many restaurants in Brussels (or Belgium) that can count among their clients one of the most famous rock stars ever.

But that is the claim to fame of La Porte des Indes, a really terrific Indian restaurant that’s become a byword for fine dining in Brussels.

It was once visited by Mick Jagger. Yes, that Mick Jagger – he of the Rolling Stones. La Porte des Indes was his choice of dining the day before he entertained thousands at a rock fest in Belgium. Old rubber lips clearly has good taste.

The name of the restaurant fittingly translates as “gateway to India” an, when it comes to Indian cuisine, this is as good as it gets, this side of the Indian sub-continent. The glorious food is served in an opulent atmosphere of exotic flowers, lush plants and exquisite antiques. Just stepping inside the place is like stepping back to the British Raj!

But don’t come expecting a cheap curry washed down with a pint of Leffe. The fare served here is of a rather higher standard, cooked by some of Europe’s top-notch Indian chefs with all dishes prepared with the highest quality ingredients.

The a la carte is fabulous but it also serves a fantastic buffet which, considering the quality, is very well priced indeed.

Using only the freshest ingredients, this features all the classic and most popular Indian dishes (including tandoori fish,chicken satay, lamb,prawn curry and scampi), all accompanied by a nice range of spicy and mild sauces. In charge of all this fine food is the very talented head chef who, like all the kitchen staff here is from India and who takes particular delight in working with new products both for the benefit of customers, of course, but also in order to keep his own culinary output fresh and original.

The Saturday night “eat-as-much-as-like buffet” gives him the chance to “do something different” from that available on the fixed a la carte menu. Interestingly, all the ten-strong staff are invited to sample the results of his creative juices before new items find their way onto the buffet. Trying them beforehand also means the staff are fully clued-up when it comes to explaining the dishes to diners.

Another innovative touch is the Indian red and rose wine (a real rarity in wine-loving Belgium) that’s currently being piloted. Imported via a Belgian supplier it is a bit spicy itself so is an ideal accompaniment to Indian food.

There’s a very reasonably priced business lunch option or the “classic” lunch menu with which you get a taste of everything. This 80-seat restaurant is perfect for everything from a dinner to a family birthday party or office function and, unlike a lot of Indians, vegetarians are also particularly well catered for here.

The main menu itself is divided into traditional Indian dishes and those which are slightly less spicy and influenced more by French cuisine. Everything on the different menus, though, reflects the many different regions in India, each of which have their own,sometimes very different, food specialities.

Dining here is like stepping back in time to the days of the British Raj or, as one diner said, “like entering a tiny bit of Brussels that is Indian territory.”

It’s true -you really do get the “full Indian experience” here, even down to the fragrant-smelling incense that greets you at the entrance which immediately gives you a sense of being in Delhi or Mumbai – plus the lovely little orchid given to guests before they leave.

It’s things like this that (apart from the fantastic food) that make a visit to this place so memorable. As well as musical legends like Mick Jagger, this up market restaurant attracts some of the Brussels’ best-known personalities and EU figures and little wonder. After one visit you are sure to be hooked on this unique taste of the Indian sub continent.

Part of the renowned and venerable Blue Elephant Group launched by a Fleming (the Blue Elephant Thai restaurant in Uccle is equally wonderful), La Porte des Indes has become (after 30 years) a real and beloved Brussels institution and it is nice to report that, even after all this time, that standards are as high as ever.

Valentine’s Day is on the horizon and, to mark the occasion, a special menu will be available. If it’s anything like the rest of the food here it’ll be well worth trying.

There may not be many Indian restaurants in the city but, really, who needs them with places like this? Highly recommended.