My first (and so far only) outing from Paris was a quick trip up to Brussels, to see a friend visiting there for EuroOSCon. I'm sad to say that Brussels lives up to its reputation, a dreary and boring little business city. What surprised me most was how ugly so much of the architecture is in the middle of the city, a lot of 60s/70s concrete brutality. It's not all bad; the Begijnhof is handsome, there's a cool shopping arcade, and the center square is quite a showpiece. But overall? Not such a beautiful town.
We did eat well. We were steered the first night to L'Huîtrière, a seafood place built at Brussels gone-100-years docks. Excellent fresh fish, comfortable room, nice dinner. I was a bit disappointed with our second dinner at L'Maison du Boeuf, not because anything was bad about it but because for a place of its reputation (and price!) you expect excellence, and it was merely very good. The best surprise was Aux Armes de Bruxelles, an excellent old world place with gentileness and charm smack in the middle of Brussels tourist hell. I had moules frites just because I felt obligated, but my friends did much better with careful lobster preparations with cream sauce. Excellent place, I strongly recommend.