Around Place Flagey you already have two well-established burger joints: The Burger Republic in Chaussee de Vleurgat and, just around the corner, Super Filles du Tram in Rue Lesbroussart. So for a new place to establish itself among this competition, it probably wouldn’t be enough to just offer the usual range of burgers and fries.
With this in mind, I was intrigued when I first saw the blackboard outside Choupy’s at Rue de Vergnies, on the corner of Place Flagey: “Giant Bagels & Burgers” it said and the shop itself looked like a charming little diner.
Now, after having tried it myself, I see things differently. Very differently.
First of all, I found out that Choupy’s is not that new at tall. It’s been there for a good two years and I’m not sure if it says more about me or about Choupy’s that I only noticed it a couple of weeks back, although I very frequently walk past that corner of Place Flagey. Also I see that they got raving reviews from some websites/magazines when they started – I really do wonder why that happened or whatever happened since.
Because, secondly, it’s not a charming little diner. Little, yes. Charming, not at all.
When I got there one Friday night, there was nobody there except for a guy having dinner. After I had waited a couple of minutes for somebody to come out of the kitchen, he got up and fetched the cook/waitress from the next-door brasserie.
She made no attempt at being friendly whatsoever, didn’t try to explain the menu or point me to a daily special etc. I ordered the “Lili Burger”, which seems to be their standard, basic burger – and immediately regretted my choice. Well, not the choice of the burger, more the choice of the restaurant itself.
Instead of taking one of the burger patties that were on the grill, she took one that must have been cooked way earlier out of a box and put in, yes, the microwave. Yes, I could have stopped her there, but I wanted to see how they do things in there so I let her proceed. She added some pre-cooked bacon and the other ingredients and waited for my burger to heat up …
Let me say this: The idea behing Choupy’s burgers is great – it’s just very, very, very poorly executed.
I like the idea of having a bagel-burger – although sceptic at first, I think it can work well to have a bagel replace the standard buns. Also, the combination of bagel, beef, bacon, cheese and cress is a great idea – the cress really made the best attempt of saving the Lili Burger I had.
Why it failed? Because the pre-cooked burger patty and the pre-cooked bacon strips were awful and tasted like something you would expect from a big burger chain a la McDo or Quick, but not from what seems to be a charming little diner.
Now, maybe I simply had bad luck. It’s possible – but not very likely. I was there on a Friday night around 8pm, with Flagey buzzing, even more so than usual since there was a fairground this week, too. So there should have been more customers than on a ‘normal’ night and Choupy’s should have been on their A-game.
One more warning: Even if you are lucky and find a more motivated, friendlier waitress and a freshly cooked burger patty – it’s “Belgian” style aka it feels industrially pre-pressed, not freshly made. This is pretty standard for many Friteries or old-school burger trucks at your local weekly market, though not usually used by restaurants. At least I have never seen them at Burger Republic or Super Filles du Tram.
Choupy’s, Rue de Vergnies 39, Brussels // Website