After living in Brussels for quite a few years, I have developed a handful of rituals that involve some of my favourite spots for brunch, tea or wine and tapas. As I have already confessed though, my ultimate treat is fresh seafood at Noordzee followed by coffee and dessert at Charli in Sainte-Catherine, one of the most lively neighbourhoods in town.
Charli is a small bakery in the centre of Brussels that happens to be one of the best in the city. Trust me, it will have you drooling as soon as you walk passed its display window with the aroma of freshly baked bread and sumptuous pastries on offer. The owner, Charles Reboulet, opened Charli in 2009 when he realized that there were very few bakeries in Brussels carrying on the legacy of true artisanal bakers. Everything is baked with organic flour without any additives and most items are made with sourdough which, as I experienced in a bread-making workshop I attended recently, takes longer but is particularly flavorful. One of the best things about Charli is that you can actually get to see the bakers work their magic as they make everything from scratch behind the glass partitions.
Picking just one bread can prove a challenge as there are many different kinds to choose from, including fig and walnut sourdough, focaccia, honey beer and pumpkinseed bread and crusty French baguettes. Having lived in Paris, I can be picky when it comes to baguettes but Charli’s have passed the test with flying colors! The croissants (or couques as they’re called in Belgium) here are arguably some of the best you’ll ever have and let’s not forget the pastries! If you have a sweet tooth, do try the blueberry cheesecake, the chocolate eclairs, the tarte tatin or the lemon tart – the list is long but they’re all mouthwatering! When I heard that Charli no longer served its delicious sandwiches due to legal restrictions, I was admittedly a bit disappointed but couldn’t help to admire the owner’s commitment to quality. I mean, who likes soggy refrigerated sandwiches anyway?
Charli is not very spacious but there are a few seats for those who wish to stay for a while and enjoy their croissant on site. If you arrive early in the morning or during the weekend, there may be a queue but it’s worth the wait. Charli is a great spot for breakfast (any day starting with a buttery croissant and a cappuccino is a good one in my books!) or a quiet cup of coffee in the afternoon. I actually visit it rather frequently when I want to relax with my book, so we may see each other there!
|Address: Rue Sainte-Catherine 34, 1000 Brussels, Belgium|
|Telephone: +32 2 5136332|
|Website / Facebook page|