'Aux Armes de Bruxelles' soon to welcome some new royal visitors?

23/10/2018

After some ups and downs in recent months, the brasserie 'Aux Armes de Bruxelles' in the famous Rue des Bouchers in the heart of Brussels, has been restored to its former glory. This jewel in the crown of Brussels' culinary heritage reopened on 11 October.

For three generations, until 2017, Aux Armes de Bruxelles was run by the Veulemans family. At the beginning of the 20th century, a young man from the village of Hoeleden, near Tienen in the district of Flemish Brabant, went to the city to find work. Calixte Veulemans - the man in question - began work as a waiter in a few music cafés, before becoming assistant waiter at Friture Henri on the Rue du Rempart des Moines, which he later took over and renamed Chez Calixte. In 1921, he bought an inn in the Rue des Bouchers called Aux Armes de Bruxelles, the local establishment for coachmen from a changing post in nearby Rue de la Fourche. He soon turned the business into a stylish restaurant. In order to resolve the issue of transporting fresh mussels from Zeeland, he made a deal with a mussel grower from Yerseke to supply his daily requirements by lorry and thus guarantee their freshness. He also invented the now popular way of preparing mussels in individual pots, and also moules à l'escargot, oven-baked mussels with garlic butter. In 1941, Calixte married Anne-Marie Moreau, with whom he raised four children. The restaurant continued expanding: in 1927 he bought a small house in the Petite Rue des Bouchers, in 1953 another building on the corner and in 1963 La Rose Noire, a popular jazz club in the Petite Rue des Bouchers in those days, attracting people like Jacques Brel and Georges Moustaki. Indeed, famous people were also rather fond of the food at Aux Armes de Bruxelles. Veulemans welcomed many celebrities, such as king Leopold III, who came once a month for his plate of sole and mussels, and artists such as Jacques Brel, André Brasseur, Fernandel, Toots Thielemans and Johnny Halliday, who liked to visit. In 2007, the grandchildren of the founder Calixte decided to accept an offer from the French restaurant group Flo, famous for its twenty brasseries in Paris and other parts of France.

A good ten years later Rudy Vanlancker, the king of mussels from the popular Chez Léon directly opposite, and his son Kevin took over Aux Armes de Bruxelles after it went bankrupt. The brasserie now meets every standard when it comes to quality, safety and hygiene. The kitchen has been entirely rebuilt, while the dining area, which seats 340 guests, has been renovated based on old photos from the Veulemans family. The new manager is intent on restoring the brasserie's original feel, namely on attracting the locals from down-town Brussels as its regular clientele. Perhaps this will even include another celebrity?