The beauty that is Antwerp is one I had always been unfamiliar with. The architecture whispers stories of an olden life within the backdrop of ominous churches and a medieval/coastal village; the market square one could easily mentally picture populated with crowds of people from 100's of years ago. But now? Filled with a wandering and hungry Paolo and I (and some local friends).
Rudy from Brussels recommended we go to the best restaurant in town for Moules Frites (mussels and fries) - another Belgian staple that has made it's way into the hearts of many restaurants worldwide. Maritime is a fancier place and we feel that as soon as the eyeballs shoot straight to the band-dude-looking Paolo and I… it's as if the record was stopped as soon as we popped our heads in. C'est la vie. I order a Crecl (I think that was the spelling?) beer and we start with some olives. Huisgemaakte Garnaalkroketten is the starter - a croquette even better than the ones from Grimbergen. These have cheese in an almost mashed-potato consistency with shrimp; a panko-style crust on the outside - heavenly. My mussel choice (and there were quite a few) was the Moisselen Room En Koflook Creme A Lail. The bucket that was laid before me was of gargantuan-proportions; the necessary frites came alongside and were dwarfed by the steel bowl of mollusks.
I'm sure you've seen mussels and fries here and there globally on menus… and yeah - at the wrong place, you'll be in trouble; but here at Maritime - it was the best. The best moules frites of my life. This Belgian staple had never before impressed me as it did upon it's introduction to me that night - I was in love. I finished every last bit and savored that moment. Something real special was just consumed in Antwerp.
Feeling like a nightcap, we hit a random spot on the walk back: Da Vegant Jenever Cafe. Jenever is the Belgian liqueur of choice - and I'm not entirely sure what it is. I order a coconut Jenever and a De Koninck beer and kick back at the wooden bar that was my current residence.
All in all - for a city that delivered the best mussels and frites of my life; it was a great day off.