Belgium is known for some of the best fries, beer, and chocolate in the world. The fries are double fried, the chocolate is creamy and smooth, and the beer comes in fruity flavors that anyone would love to drink. My favorite among all the dishes I tried in Belgium was one that many neighboring countries also indulged in: a classic beef tartare. This dish was incredibly divine. My advice is to try it before you figure out what it is if you’ve never had beef tartare.
What is beef tartare?
Beef tartare is a dish made from raw beef. The dish I had consisted of meat, capers, onions, seasoning, and a side of Worcestershire sauce. It came in a little patty form with green and white speckles. The dish was so wonderfully presented, I didn’t want to ruin the masterpiece before me.
The meat wasdiced up into small digestible cubes and mashed up into a little pile with some edible decorative pieces on the top. The texture of each piece was gamey and savory, so the meat has to be cubed into small enough slices to chew thoroughly.
The meal has the highest quality beef or meat prepared over time and it melts into your mouth completely. It is buttery, strong, and salty. This was by far one of the best meals to try if you are visiting Europe. Beef tartare is generally served with a warm basket of bread that just adds to the flavor of the meal.
First impressions of beef tartare
At first glance, you may wonder what you’re looking at because it does not look appetizing if you come from the United States like me. In fact, at first glance, I didn’t know what I was staring at. Perhaps, a beautifully put together raw pile of meat? It was a round mound with green specks and I was slightly scared to try it. I am glad I got over that first impression and took a bite.
How is it customarily cooked?
The best thing about beef tartare is that it is not cooked. It is entirely raw beef or sometimes horse meat that is a delicacy throughout Europe. Chefs usually pick tenderloin because of the texture; it helps create the perfect dish. You may be concerned about eating fresh beef, but let me assure you it is completely safe to eat.
Any bacteria are killed off by boiling the raw meat in salt water for around ten seconds. Once the meat is boiled, it is put on ice in a small bowl. This helps keep it cool and fresh and destroys any bacteria that could have been on the meat.
The beef that is used sits for an hour in the freezer to get the right consistency before it is chopped up and ground. Some chefs mix a raw egg into the beef or let it sit on the top of the ground beef. It is prepared and served with spices.
Where can you find it in Belgium?
You can find this dish all over Belgium and even in neighboring countries like France and the Netherlands. Here is a list of places in the city center of Brussels, Belgium, to find the best beef tartare dishes.
• Le Cercle des Voyageurs– This restaurant serves excellent beef tartare that can be enjoyed over a fine lunch or dinner for two. It has a unique wall lined with suitcases that make it one of the best places to enjoy your meal. Their beef tartare comes on a charcoal plate, and served with a side salad, and a basket of bread!
Rue des Grands Carmes, 18
• ‘T kelderke– A fabulous restaurant that serves a classic beef tartare as well as horse steak. These are both a must try. Horse steak has a very sweet flavor that nothing can compare to and is another delicacy in Europe.
Grote Markt 15
1000 Bruxelles België +32 2 513 73 44
• Sheltema– A fantastic restaurant that is relatively budget-friendly for a night out. They serve home-made beef tartare with the best side of fries you could ever have.
Rue des Dominicains 7, 1000 Bruxelles België +32 2 512 20 84
Many places all over Brussels serve beef tartare or some form of it. This dish is a must have if you are in Belgium on vacation. It is a delicacy like no other and you will rarely find it in the United States. It is gamey, savory, and can easily be paired with a Belgian beer of your choice.