arts 05.16.06

Belgian Dossier


We miss the Manon chocolates that were flown in every week and sold on the 7th floor of Bergdorf's. But there are some alternatives for Belgium's sweetest accomplishments. In addition to Neuhaus and Leonidas, there's Martine's at Bloomies and at 400 E. 82nd [1st/York], which uses Belgian couverture, and best of all,
Pierre Marcolini, 485 Park [58th/59th] 212.755.5150, one of the great chocolate makers in the world.

The brief vogue of Belgian restaurants may have passed, leaving behind the unremarkable Markt and the long-running Cafe de Bruxelles, 118 Greenwich Ave. [13th] 212.206.1830, but there are a few frites shops serving Belgian-style fries (Pomme Frites, for one) and the now-ubiquitous, expensive-but-good bakery/cafes Le Pain Quotidien. But for a taste of Belgium, we especially like the Petite Abeille restaurants that have nestled their charmingly unpretentious selves around the city.


The port of Antwerp between 1870 and 1935 is the focus of an exhibition on now at the South Street Seaport Museum that features the drawings and paintings of Eugeen Van Mieghem as well as the Red Star Line, which carried many of the immigrants during this period…Recent work of Belgian painter Xavier Nellens is at the Krampf-Pei Gallery, 601 W. 26th [11th] through May 30th.


It's not only the Dutch who have the Low-Country touch with flowers. Belgian-born floral designer and interior stylist Nico De Swert, the author of Living With Flowers, creates arrangements that are ultra luxe and ultra beautiful.


There's no shortage of beer bars serving up Duvel, Orval, and Chimay. But Vol de Nuit, 148 W. 4th [6th] 212.979.2616, is a specialist, billing itself as a Belgian beer lounge, and carrying a large selection of the country's great brews on draft and in bottles – about three dozen in all.


Maison Martin Margiela, 803 Greenwich St. [Jane/W. 12th] 212.989.7612. Mr. Margiela is an iconoclast and a resolutely mysterious figure – he doesn't allow himself to be photographed (WWD staked out his Parisian atelier and came up with a barely identifiable shot), won't give interviews, and good luck seeing his designs on his website. But his devoted following knows he's a genuine talent who lets the cutting-edge clothes speak for themselves. See if they speak to you at the unmarked (naturally) store in the West Village…On the other end of the hip continuum is Belgian Shoes,
110 E. 55th [Park/Lex] 212.755.7372, but that doesn't keep them from being a favorite for legions of fans.


"I admit freely and without hypocrisy that I am a great man," says the Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot, and who are we to argue? You can watch the detective extraordinaire, played by the incomparable David Suchet, on DVD.


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