I’ve barely gone through the door and I’m already immersed in an abundance of decoration. Knick-knacks, frames, flags of Flanders; they’re everywhere! I was invited to take a seat and I weave my way through to a little table in the corner of the room. From here, I had an unobstructed view of this flamboyant environment.
Warmly, I was shown the menu full of exotic names and flavours: Potjevleesch, welsh, picon, chicory. I was disorientated at each line of the menu, but I wasn’t lost, as the manager of the estaminet cheerfully took the time to explain the meaning of these mysterious terms. While doing so, he told me that all these recipes are prepared with local products, near the village. This is an essential backbone of estaminet cooking according to him: working with good products, with local ingredients to ensure authentic flavours. Convinced, I opted for a “potje”, with a side of its renowned chips.
While waiting for my meal, my gaze was lost in the hops drying on the ceiling. Then I was drawn to a neighbouring table where a family were playing a funny game: it involved a sort of circular wooden board, where each player had a bellows to push a marble. As I looked a bit confused, they explained that the game was called Billard Nicolas. The aim? To place the marble in the opponent’s area and above all, ensure it doesn’t come into yours. While laughing, the children invited to me to have a go. Clearly, they have had more training than me, and I failed miserably. But whatever the outcome, the main thing is to have fun.