I go to Antwerp once or twice a year (it's only a sort train ride from Amsterdam for a couple of days on my own. last week was particularly good in terms of eating and drinking - some exciting new places and some old favorites made for 4 days of excellent eating (and drinking).
On Leopold de Waelplaats. This was very close to the B&B I was staying in. Had a good breakfast there one day and stopped in a couple of times for a glass of wine on the terrace. Nice list of wines by the glass, friendly service, cozy atmosphere.
A very nice and funky bar/pub/restaurant. Had a very nice breakfast (you can order most items seperately, which I love, and which is very unusual in The Netherlands / Belgium) Friendly service and some nice outdoor seating.
This was my 'splurge lunch' and boy was it good. You get 2 courses for 29 euros, but with some very nice amuses and a plate of sweets that arrives with your bill (even if you don't order tea or coffee) it feels like a 4 course lunch. I still dream about 2 of the amuses ... one of which was a shot of creamy red pepper soup with some perfectly cooked grains of rice and some tiny cubes of chorizo floating in it...
The other a spoonful of steak tartare served with a dollop of pickle ice cream and one perfect, hot, crispy, golden brown french fry.
The first course was scallops and shrimp with crispy bacon, carrot puree, artichokes and some soft goats cheese. Second course seabass with celeriac puree, beetroot, asparagus, and a frothy, light and delicious thyme jus that came in a seperate sauce boat. The room is elegant and beautiful and I loved the food so much that I think next time I will splurge even more and go there for dinner.
Eetcafe De Walrus
Jan van Beersstraat 2
A very nice and casual place that serves classics like shrimp croquettes, steak and Belgian braised beef as well as some lighter things, interesting salads and fish dishes. Daily special for about 10 euros.. an inexpensive and fun place for dinner or lunch.
I happened to walk by this place one afternoon when I did not have any plans for dinner yet, and on a whim stepped in to reserve a table for the evening. I almost regretted it when I came back that night and was shown into the dining room.. The decor seemd a bit tired and old fashioned (even though I think they have not been open very long?) and the other diners.. hm.. lets just say at my age I'm not really used to being the youngest diner (by decades) anymore :)
BUT, the food was pretty good! The list of wines by the glass wasn't though, only 2 options for white wine). Delicious oysters. For mains they give you a choice of fish (cod, seabass, monkfish) and you choose either fries or mash, salad or vegetables, and a sauce. My seabass was fried and cooked just right, the mash was creamy and light, the Sauce Nantua intensely flavorful (and that main course was only 16,50). So if you happen to be in that neighborhood and don't care too much about fancy decor or a trendy vibe, and just want some simple but perfectly cooked seafood, I'd recommend it.
My splurge dinner was at Dome sur Mer, the 'cheaper' sister of restaurant Dome. Slick white interior, beautiful people with money to spend, the perfect place for a solo diner (a round bar where you get lots of interaction with the stations where they shuck the oysters, grill the fish, pour the wine. I went all out and had some fabulous irish oysters, a starter of cold mackerel in a mustard vinaigrette, and another starter of salmon and zucchini in a minty marinade, and then half a lobster, grilled, with sage butter sauce... and a couple of glasses of a truly lovely ufiltered Slovenian wine. I think this was one of my more succesful solo dinners ever, through a combination of the seating arrangement (I had the very best seat at the bar where my back was actually to the window so i was facing the entire room), attentive and friendly but overly chatty staff, and great food. Highly receommended.
I'll mention 2 bars that I haven't seen mentioned on the boards I think... Paters Vaetje is a nice little beer bar right next to the cathedral. It's in avery touristy area but is frequented by both locals and tourists.. great beer list, a nice place to sit for an hour or so and read (or chat, if you're not solo of course!)
And one of my other favorites, jenevercafe de Vagant
jenever jenever and more jenever, hundreds of them. If you are there during the day you can stop in at the shop across the street and buy a bottle to take home.
there are, as always, other places on my list .. for next time.