A final post from Europe, and a rare Belgian town that doesn’t feature in the European Beer Guide. That seemed odd, as Sint-Niklaas has 75,000 residents, and a tourist draw in Belgium’s biggest market square.

More importantly, it was Mrs RM’s choice of fortifying lunch stop on the six hour Kassel-Calais leg. You really need to be fortified before entering France. But don’t get me started on France.

I’d never heard of Sint-Niklaas, in any of its possible spellings, and to be honest it’s a bit plain.  But it has a cheap car park under the market place, which is a bonus. I do like pedestrianisation schemes.

The stalls have more the sort of household tat you get in Anderlecht or Ashton-under-Lyne than the pretty lace and soaps of Gent, but it did have one redeeming feature.

No, not the policemen, the snails. Mrs RM clearly fancied some proper food, so we then began a trawl of at least ten attractive looking places lining the north side of the square.  The advertised beer varied (Primus, Maes, Stella), but they were all set up for lunch.

 And they were all packed, presumably with shoppers who’d completed their expedition for knickers and liquorice. You had to wait at the entrance, which I hate, and nothing really appealed, though they all had bottles of Orval.  I can name ten pubs in Cambridge with a better Belgian range.

Our eldest son is clearly turning into an accountant as he calculated it would cost us a minimum of 50 euros for a quick lunch, so we went back to the snails. Clearly we didn’t really.  I joined the boys in a 3 euro Hamburger, which Mrs Roosenboom assured me was the best in Belgium.  It really wasn’t, even in a decent crusty roll with copious onions.  Mrs RM declared it smelt like horsemeat, which rather missed the point of a burger.

We gave the boys ten euros and told them to get some Belgian pick-and-mix while we went looking for a proper bar. (NB Child abandonment laws don’t apply in Europe).

Finding a side street, we chose Tijd & Boterhammen (trans – yes, we have beer) purely for the name.  It’s a casual little bar with food, the sort of Odd/Trof/Common thing that dominates Chorlton, and although we had to sit at the bar it was very cosy.

You can guess which beer Mrs RM chose.

I think the only logic was “which beer don’t I get in England“, and oddly La Chouffe hasn’t yet made it onto the bars with its cutesy little tap.  Tasted good to me, and the coffee was my first decent espresso for a week. £4.30 for the two, not bad at all, but we were never going to get food within the hour.

So a happier wife feasted on the best confectionery from Belgium’s biggest market for the next hour.

Lesson : Do not trust children with your sweet buying. 


  1. Love La Chouffe. Had it when visiting my brother in Northern France last year (we usually went to Belgium to drink). Can’t find it near me in my part of Canada, though it is at a bar in Edmonton Alberta at the airport after you go through security, so every time we fly to see our lads we get to the airport early for our flight home. 🙂



  2. The picture under “it did have one redeeming feature” isn’t loading for me 😦

    Sorry, but I read the heading and saw “Shit-Niklaas”. I’ll get me coat…


  3. The annual Zythos beer festival used to be in the square in front of the train station. Only real beer claim to fame of the place. Sort of suffers from being surrounded by a beery triangle of Antwerp, Brussels and Gent. Did Mrs. RM have a pint of gin?
    For all the faults of France, Lille is both interesting and full of beery delights.

    Liked by 1 person

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