by Max Brantley
I started my excursion in Brussels with a Leffe Noel beer in an ancient guild hall on the central plaza in a town bustling despite the holiday.
Then it was on to a classic Belgian bistro, Roue d'Or, the wheel of gold, a few blocks off the place. The murals were in the style of Magritte; the woodwork art nouveau. The service slow but thoroughly professional.
The food? Oh, man. Hearty and warming on a cold night. There was waterzooi, the classic Belgian dish of stewed chicken with potato, shredded celery and carrot in a voluptuous cream sauce.
There was a shank of lamb with roasted potatoes in a buttery mustard seed sauce.
There was a flambeed piece of tarte tatin, after we were disappointed to learn that a dessert made of the city's famous speculoos, or ginger cookies, was sold out.
There was also a salad of pigs' trotters and vinaigrette on a tangle of curly endive to begin, nutty bread and a carafe of very cheap Lyonnaise wine that went down like Kool-Aid. Heaven is where I was.