Le Balmoral
Milk bar gone sour

balmoral (1)

Le Balmoral, the retro-style milk bar at place brugman, looks just like having been beamed from the American 1950s to Brussels. It’s all there: The neon signs, the retro paraphernalia and the pastel colours. But instead of being welcomed by a smiling waitress on roller blades we were greeted by a young chap. Well, greeted might be overstating it, as he was unfriendly even by Brussels standards.

Although it was the middle of the afternoon and there were a couple of empty tables already, with a lot of other people nearly finished with their meals as well, he would not give us a table for having drinks only.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I fully understand that restaurants have to make their profits and that it’s more profitable to have people buying a full meal instead of just drinks. And I would not expect to get a drinks-only table in any restaurant at lunch or dinner rush-hour.

But in a milk bar, in the middle of the afternoon, with the rush hour cleary being over and lots of tables available already? Come on!

And, as always, it’s not just the message itself – it’s also about the tone. I guess if the waiter had been the tiniest bit friendly, we would have settled for a place at the bar & then switched to a table later. That’s what a decent waiter would have suggested, anyway. But a strict and unfriendly “sorry, tables for food only” was a first for me – even in Brussels.


Le Balmoral, Place Georges Brugmann, Brussels // www.lebalmoral.be

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. smarksthespots

    Typican for Brussels, I’m afraid to say. I don’t particularly like the food in Balmoral either.

    1. philipp

      Thanks for the heads-up – not that we were in a hurry to give it a second try, but knowing that the food is not particularly good, we might skip it altogether.

  2. Une petite Bruxelloise

    About a month ago I was denied a table at L’Amour Fou on a Sunday at brunch time, as we were only two and they wanted to give the few last tables to groups of 4 people. The waiter’s tone was very friendly, but still, it made a bad impression on me that I couldn’t have brunch at the place of my choice.

    1. philipp

      It’s a shame, really. We have sometimes even been denied places when offering to share them with other parties of two. Personally, I think it’s a bad policy that’s working against the restaurants themselves: We often try a new place as a couple and, if we like it, come back with larger groups of friends …

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