Some bars have such presence that it transcends some of their small flaws and L'Archiduc exemplifies this perfectly. You just have to "get" this quintessential bar that's been hosting the good folk of Brussels since 1937 and you can still sense the ghosts of its jazz past in the ether. Both Miles Davis and Nat King Cole spent some quality time here and live jazz is still on the menu and the grand piano that resides in the bar is testament to that.
Delightfully on my last visit a bohemian guy had a record (yes vinyl) deck on top of it playing crackly Ella Fitzgerald. Tell me where you last saw that in the UK? More annoyingly I missed the time Roger Hodgson from Supertramp played all their greatest hits on the grand piano when he chanced by.
The whole experience begins at the door - an ornate wrought iron affair with a bell that you ring to gain entry - it then revolves as you enter !!That's when you "get it" - a perfectly preserved Art Deco bar with pillars to the roof, a half moon balcony with more seating and a diminutive bar in the left corner. It's "well loved" and the complete antithesis of the spotless, manufactured new bars you tend to find now but the decor and superb atmosphere just carry you away.
There's a complete cross section of society here from intellectuals, professionals, musicians thro' to students and tourists. The bar serves draught genuine Carlsberg - not the UK brewed effluent that most people are used to. The local Lambic beers that come in corked bottles are particularly tasty as well. The cocktails are the big attraction though, with an assured range that are mixed expertly and all this convivial palaver continues until 5am, yes that's right - 5am...
I walked straight out and next door into Le Pain Quotidien for breakfast and sat around a single huge wooden table with other locals, eating freshly baked bread and freshly brewed sublime
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